Where do your kids find their identity? What are you doing to lead your kids to an identity in Christ? Today’s culture leads our kids towards finding identity in relationships, sports, school, or entertainment. It is easy to connect with a movie character or find our identity in what is popular. Because of this, we desire to establish relationships similar to the ones portrayed in Hollywood. Our kids begin talking and acting like the kids in every Disney show, singing the songs that are on Top 40 radio stations, and living out of pursuit of popularity instead of the pursuit of Jesus Christ! I have seen my kids find their identity in their gifts, abilities, and talents. Landon, our 7-year old son, is an excellent baseball player who often centers who he is on his success or failures on the field. If he has a great game – he is a great person to be around; if he struggles, watch out! Our girls struggle to identify with anything beyond what they see on television, hear on the radio, or learn those around them. While establishing a culture of discipleship within our families is of the utmost importance, I do not believe secluding our kids completely from culture and the world around us accomplishes what God desires. This often leads to an identity in legalism or established religion, instead of in a relationship with Christ! As we live out the truth of God’s Word and speak life into your kids, they will begin experiencing identity in Christ! Here are three practical keys to leading your kids
- Speak words of affirmation & self-worth – Our kids need to hear words of encouragement, love, and grace. We must use our words wisely as we live out the responsibilities of parenthood. So much of culture preaches and teaches that affirmation and worth are found in success and relationships. Our kids need to know that they are God’s creation, made in His image, and designed to bring Him honor and glory. They do not need to accomplish a list of 100 things to obtain God’s love. It is available to anybody who believes in Him! I have seen so many teenage girls run to a relationship to experience love and self-worth. What are we doing to establish a life of worthiness in a relationship with Christ? Are you speaking words of defamation or words of affirmation?
- Establish cultural boundaries – I do not believe that God has called us to seclude ourselves from the entire world. He has not only called us to be in the world, but has also given us the responsibility to reach the world. The Village, one of my favorite movies of all-time, is about a countryside town that isolates itself from the surrounding world. They missed their purpose and placed their identity in their cultural traditions. Within modern Christianity, this can often lead to a legalistic relationship based on rituals, tradition, and rules. It causes us to miss the incredible love, grace, and compassion offered to us in a relationship with Christ! At the same time, I see incredible value in setting boundaries around our kids’ interactions with culture. There are certain shows our children are not allowed to watch. There are certain types of music that we do not listen to. We do not have cable, do not allow our kids to stay the night at a random friend’ house, and do not own a video game system. As our girls get older we will begin working towards a life of modesty and purity, and as our boys mature we will work to impart a life of love and respect. Most importantly, we believe training our children in the admonition of the Lord will help instill an identity in Christ, not culture!
- Approach the Heart – I wish I could say I have this one mastered! I want my kids to obey and immediately do what I have asked them to do. I often become so focused on the actions and attitudes that I miss the heart! I want my kids to have the knowledge of who God is, but I often skip from their hearts and go straight from the heads to their hands. We cannot miss our kids’ hearts! There is a time and place for discipline and a time and place to approach the actions, but we cannot miss the attitude of the heart. As we accomplish this, their actions will become a representation of their authentic love for God!
Romans 5:6-11 – “6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” Are we living out these words of Paul in front of our kids? Do we believe that while ‘we were still powerless, Christ died for’ us? It is only through a relationship with Christ that we can experience true reconciliation! His love is more affirming than any relationship we will ever know. Abiding in Him gives us purpose and worth that goes beyond anything we could ever imagine. Our kids need to hear these words as well! Lead by example and speak life into your children every chance you get!