by John Hailes/ July 9, 2015
It’s not an understatement to say that our young people are in an identity crisis. The traditional grounding of our identity is our family, but in a majority of the Western world the family is no longer stable or it is already distorted and broken. In addition to this, in our abstract world we like to tell people, “You are who you feel you are.” We emphasize that no one can tell you who you are but YOU!
This philosophy and culture is invading the church. We are ministering to more and more kids with identity issues due to family troubles, and we see more and more parents taking a back seat when it comes to their children’s faith! The major issue with this philosophy is it opposes our biblical guidelines to “train up a child in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6, KJV). We are finding that many children’s example is incomplete and that they are often self-taught instead of trained.
There is a real enemy who knows that if he can confuse our children’s identity, then he will destroy their purpose and effectiveness for Christ. As children’s pastors and parents our role is vital in leading kids along their journey to find their identity in Christ. Here are some things we can do:
1. Make sure they feel known and loved.
In our leadership driven, mega-church loving culture … never underestimate the power of a shepherd’s heart for the one sheep. EVERY child who walks in your room needs to feel known and loved … not just by God … but also by YOU and your team!
2. Remind them of God’s plan for their life.
We find an object’s (or person’s) purpose and identity by what it was created to do! When we reinforce to kids that God created them with a purpose and plan for their lives, we remove the pressure to separate their identity from their feelings.
3. Provide experiences to encounter God’s presence.
The new critically acclaimed Pixar movie, Inside Out, reveals that our personality and identity is derived from our core, defining memories. We need our children to experience God’s presence from an early age. These experiences will stick with them for a lifetime and will help them to center their identity in Christ.
4. Teach kids to be led by the Holy Spirit.
Romans 8:14–17 makes it clear that we understand and find our identity in Christ and God’s family through the work and person of the Holy Spirit in our lives! We must stop instructing kids to be driven by their feelings and to be better and do better. Instead we must teach them to listen for the Holy Spirit and be led by Him … because only He can cause spiritual transformation, give emotional healing, and lead them into all truth!I challenge you to be hands-on in children’s journeys and feel the responsibility to help them discover their identity in Christ in our crooked and depraved world!