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You Are (Not) Enough: Finding Self-Worth in Christ

It’s our nature to look for our identity out there, but our true identity can only come from being in Christ.

Jevon and her best friend, Makenna, sat at their middle-school lunch table under a bright yellow poster that said, “You Are Enough.” Jevon stared at the bold, blue words until Makenna nudged her foot. “Hello, Earth to Jevon.”

“If I’m enough,” Jevon said, bringing her attention back to the lunch table, “then why do I feel like I’m not? I don’t feel like I measure up to everyone else’s standards. I’m too slow to make the track team, my grades are B’s at best, and I’ll never be as pretty as them.” She glanced at the table of popular girls laughing a few tables over. The school’s star football player was flirting with one of them, and she sighed. She’d never find a boyfriend. She couldn’t even get people to like her on social media.

Makenna leaned back in her chair, balancing on two legs instead of four. “No matter how hard we try, none of us will ever be enough on our own. We’ll always be chasing after our self-worth and identity, and the standards always change.” She took a bite out of a French fry. “But I know a secret way that we can be more than enough.”

“And what way is that?” Jevon asked, pushing her peas around on her lunch tray.

Makenna smiled. “With Jesus.”

Defining Identity and Self-Worth

Let’s take a closer look at how identity and self-esteem are defined. First, identity can be defined as characteristics that determine who a person is. Psychology Today says identity “encompasses the memories, experiences, relationships, and values that create one’s sense of self.” 

Self-worth is how you value yourself and your identity. The University of North Carolina describes it as, “The internal sense of being good enough and worthy of love and belonging from others. Self-worth is often confused with self-esteem, which relies on external factors such as successes and achievements to define worth and can often be inconsistent leading to someone struggling with feeling worthy.” 

If we confuse self-esteem with self-worth, external factors like social media likes, good grades, and making the team can dramatically impact our perception of ourselves and our identity. When that happens, those factors can severely shake our children’s view of themselves. Kids who base their identity on external, ever-changing factors are at higher risk for depression, anxiety, and the risk of suicide because they feel they are not enough and never will be. 

Instead, we must help our kids find their true identity and give them a rock-solid foundation on which to stand. That way, their identity is firm when the culture changes or something happens that gives them reason to believe they don’t measure up. 

So, where do we start?

Common Places We Look For Our Identity

Imagine that you are having dinner with your kids tonight, and you ask them, “Who are you?” What do you imagine their answer would be?

Your kids would probably start by telling you their name, school grade, and where they are from. As they become adults, they may tell you their occupation and whether they have a spouse and kids of their own. Next, they might tell you their favorite hobbies, whether they’re into sports, and who their favorite musician is. But is that enough to define our identity?

All of us search for our identity from external places. We look for validation of our self-worth in our family, current relationship status, career, school grades, peers, and how many likes we have on social media. Often, we compare ourselves to others and base what we think our identity and self-worth should be based on how we perceive we stack up. 

We don’t have to search far to find personality tests (Meyers-Briggs, Enneagram, etc.) or fun quizzes (Which Adventures in Odyssey character are you?) that we use to entertain and confirm our identity. Everyone seems to be looking for someone or something to tell them who they are and where they belong. Everyone is looking for meaning and purpose in their identity. 

But are we finding it? Are our kids finding it? And are the answers we are finding the truth? Or are they leading us away from finding our true identity? If we don’t know who we are, how can we be all God created us to be?

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You Are Not Enough

Though we see signs, commercials, and social media posts everywhere that shout in bold lettering, “You are enough,” the truth is that you are not enough. I am not enough. Our kids are not enough. The culture sends us confusing messages because even though it claims “you are enough,” there are constant messages to the contrary. You’re enough. But if you buy these clothes, you’ll be better. You’re enough, but if you like this sports team, you’ll be the best. You’re enough…If.

We and our children all strive so hard to be enough, but we can never make it to the ever-moving mark. While many people who say, “You are enough,” mean well and want to make people feel comfortable in their own skin, the truth is that we are not enough as we are. No matter where we go to find our identity and self-worth outside of Christ, we will never discover the truth. We will never stack up to someone’s measurement of us. 

Healthy views of identity, self-worth, and self-esteem can’t be found in temporary and changing abilities or cultural views. When we or our kids compare ourselves to others, we feel insecure. We can fall into depression, anxiety, and despair. 

But you know the wonderful news? God can fill our insecurities. While we don’t measure up, there is One who does. His name is Jesus. 

What is Identity in Christ?

As followers of Christ, we and our children often use the word Christian to describe that part of our identity. However, the New Testament uses the words in Christ 180 times.

What does “in Christ” mean? It can be a concept that is difficult to grasp. Jesus tells His disciples in John 14:19-20 that He is in union with the Father, and the Father is in union with Him. Though the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three distinct persons, all are in unity together. When we are saved, we join Christ and become part of that union.

Frederick Bruner writes, “Come into union with the Word who made you, and you will come to life.” 

In Identity: What Foundation are You Building On? John Fort says, “We are trying to earn our identity and earn being good enough for ourselves. But an identity in Christ can’t be earned. It’s given.”

When we step into a relationship with Jesus Christ, He gives us the gift of our identity in Him. Along with that identity, He makes us whole and complete. Suddenly, in Christ, we are enough.

You Are Enough in Christ

Isn’t it wonderful to know that there is nothing that we can do (or not do) to earn our identity in Christ? Like our salvation, it’s a gift no one can take away. When Jesus died and rose again, He sacrificed for our sins so that He could make us whole and give us life in Him. Without Him, we are not enough. But Jesus sees you as enough, a complete and wonderful human being, when you are in Him. 

When we give our identity to Him, we can also give Him the burden of feeling like we are not enough. When we look at the culture around us and feel like we don’t measure up, we can give those thoughts to Jesus and let Him carry them for us. His yoke is easy and His burden is light, and He will ease the difficulty of thinking that we aren’t enough when we are in Him.

Michelle Ling says, “When we find our identity in God, we can rest in full comfort knowing that we were created in His image (Genesis 1:27), His heirs (Romans 8:17), his chosen people (1 Peter 2:9), fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) and loved beyond measure (Ephesians 3:16-21).” [3]

God created you and each of your children intentionally and with a purpose. He is the One who called you by name before anyone knew you were to be born! Therefore, God is the only one who can truly define your worth. 

Helping Our Children Discover Self-Worth and Identity in Christ

In a world of ever-changing standards and messages, we must help our kids learn that their identity and self-worth come from Jesus. As a parent, you must reaffirm this truth with them daily and demonstrate His love and acceptance of them. 

How can you help your children discover their self-worth and identity in Christ?

Conversations about identity and self-worth are a must with your kids. Be a safe place for them to share their thoughts without judgement and answer their questions. Communicate that what they do or don’t do, their feelings, or cultural trends do not determine their worth.

Show them biblical love and demonstrate that their worth doesn’t change when they have a bad day at school, fail (or ace!) a test, or when they do or don’t make the team. Demonstrating that you love them no matter what will help them to see that Jesus always loves them.

Give your children a blessing over their lives. This demonstration will show that Jesus makes them whole and roots their identity and worth in Him.

When you encourage your children by speaking God’s Word out loud, those words will remain in their minds and hearts when they question their identity and worth. 

Sit down with your kids and help them find Bible verses describing their true identity. Write these verses down, choose some to memorize, and repeat them out loud. We will look into this more in the next section. 

Scriptures That Say You Are Enough in Christ

When you or your children want to know what God says about you or how you are enough in Christ, turn to the Scriptures. His opinion of you and your worth is constant and unwavering.

Here are several Bible verses to help you and your kids start discovering your identity in Christ. What others can you find?

  • 1 Peter 2:9 and John 15:16: You Are Chosen
  • Genesis 1:26-27: You Are Made in God’s Image
  • John 1:12 and Romans 8:17: You Are a Child and Heir of God
  • Ephesians 2:19: You Are Part of God’s Family
  • Psalm 139:14: You Are Fearfully and Wonderfully Made
  • 1 John 1:9: You Are Forgiven
  • Romans 10:3: You Are Saved
  • 2 Corinthians 5:17: You Are Made New
  • Romans 15:7: You Are Accepted
  • Psalm 23:1-3: You Are Cared For
  • Isaiah 43:4: You Are Precious
  • 1 Peter 1:5: You Are Protected
  • Jeremiah 29:11: Your Life Has a Plan
  • 1 John 5:14-15: You Are Heard
  • Philippians 4:13: You Are Strong
  • Romans 8:38-39: You Are Loved
  • Ephesians 1:3: You Are Blessed
  • Psalm 139:1: You Are Understood
  • Exodus 19:5: You Are Treasured
  • Zephaniah 3:17: You Are Not Alone
  • Galatians 2:20: Christ Lives in You
  • Colossians 2:10: You Are Complete in Christ

Further Reading

Are you seeking more articles on identity, self-worth, and discovering who you are in Christ Jesus? Here is some further reading that you can do.

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