A healthy identity comes from understanding the truth about ourselves. Our deepest yearning is to understand where we came from and the purpose for which we were made. Sadly, many parents have no answers to these questions or neglect to give their children the confidence that comes from knowing God made them for a reason. So it’s vital that Dad and Mom teach their kids who they are and why they are here.
Who we are: The Scriptures say that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). Our children need to realize that God created billions of individuals yet gave each one his or her own look, strengths, personality and potential. We can live in confidence that God doesn’t make junk and that every one of us is a unique masterpiece of His creative genius.
Why we are here: Our ultimate purpose is to love God and love other people. As Jesus put it, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ ” (Matthew 22:37-39).
Below, you will find age-appropriate activities and discussion questions that help your children understand what it means to be a priceless creation of God. No matter their age or stage, your children can know the One who is love and who created them to love.
— Kurt Bruner
- Our identity and purpose come from God.
- We are a masterpiece of God’s creativity.
- God made us to love Him and reflect who He is.
Have a contest to see who can create the best family pet. Give everyone Play-Doh and set a timer. Keep your children working by talking about what you’re observing. When the timer rings, let your children show what they have made and tell about their creations. Make encouraging comments, such as how carefully they worked on their creatures. But then ask each child, “Why isn’t your pet alive?”
Remind your family that God is the only one who can give life to something or someone, and everything God makes is carefully and beautifully created. Explain that God knew what He was doing when He formed your child. Therefore, your child was carefully and beautifully made. Explain the words carefully (not hurried or sloppy) and beautifully (it makes your heart happy and not sad). Then plan to use those words frequently in the days ahead.
— D’Arcy Maher
Have your child close his eyes as you apply several dots of color to his face using washable markers or eyeliner pencils. Put away the markers and ask him to tell you what colors are on his face and where. Of course, he can’t, but it’ll be fun watching him try. Now, place him in front of a mirror and ask him to tell you what colors he sees.
Explain to your child that we cannot see our own face; we can only see a reflection of what we look like. This is called an image. When God made us, He made an image, or reflection of himself. We’re different than any of God’s other creations because we alone are made like Him.
When we look in a mirror, we see a reflection of ourselves. The mirror shows us who we are on the outside, but God made us to be a reflection of His nature and image on the inside.
Because of this, He wants us to imitate who He is to others. Although a mirror reflects our physical image, when we love others we reflect who God is. In this way, others see one part of His character through us. The more we love God and other people, the more we are a true reflection of Him.
— Renee Gray-Wilburn
King David loved God with his whole heart. Did David make mistakes? Yep. Did some of his choices hurt the people around him? Oh yeah. But God had big plans for David. From the time he was a child, David was uniquely gifted to accomplish God’s purpose for his life. As a family, watch the video clip by Igniter Media about Psalm 139, which David wrote. You can find it by visiting ignitermedia.com and typing “Psalm 139” in the search box. Follow along in your Bible as the video plays.
God formed your tweens with special talents, abilities and personality traits. He knows your children intimately and has a great plan for their lives. When the video’s over, ask these questions:
- God knows our words and thoughts. How does that make you feel?
- God created you with unique talents and gifts. What are some of those talents? How can you use those gifts to spread God’s love?
- What are some ways you can thank God for creating you so wonderfully? (Consider: What are some of the wonderful ways in which God created you that you can give God thanks for?)
— Jesse Florea
Talk With Your Teen
A problem I see in many young lives is the struggle to find identity, recognize one’s worth in God’s eyes and understand the extent of His love.
I am reminded of my childhood friend. I lost contact with him after moving to the States. Years later, a mutual Aussie friend told me that our friend had fallen away from God and had been abusing drugs. My childhood friend had lost the concept of who he was and what God intended for his life. I was deeply saddened.
What can parents do to help? The most important communication you, as a parent, can have with your teen is to speak the simple truth: Your teen is extravagantly loved by God! Then affirm your teen by discussing the following:
- “In what ways did God make you unique? What personal strengths would you like to hone, and which areas of your life would you like to improve?”
- Just as my friend lost his understanding of his purpose, many teens search for identity and love in the wrong areas. “In what ways do you see your peers seeking acceptance?”
- Read Ephesians 5:1-2 together. Then look up the word imitate in a dictionary. “Imitating God means to live a life of love. What qualities of God’s love do you see imitated in our family? What qualities of God’s love do you imitate in your friendships?”
- “Do you really believe God loves you and created you for an amazing purpose? What can you do this week that will reflect His love toward others and your confidence in His plan for your life?”
- “How can I pray for you?”
— Rebecca St. James
Dani’s mother would drag her to thrift stores and antique shops in search of collectibles and other treasures. Whenever her mom would look at a price tag, she would ask Dani, “And what are you worth?”
Well trained by the ritual, Dani would respond, “I’m priceless because God made me.”
Through everyday conversations, you can instill a healthy spiritual identity in your children by reinforcing that they are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). Valuing God’s workmanship is foundational to a child’s healthy self-image.
Ask your kids the following questions:
- When do you feel that you’re not worth as much as others?
- How do your friends show they value you?
- If you were on display at a collectibles show, how would you describe yourself? (Listen and then read Genesis 1:27 together.)
- How does God assign value to you since you’re made in His image?
- What can I do to help you feel valued at home?
Together make a list of the ways your child was “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Then during the week, affirm your child’s gifts and personality traits.
— Marianne Hering
This article first appeared in the May/June 2010 issue of Thriving Family magazine and was titled “Who Am I?”