Identity: Ages 14-15
HELP YOUR TEEN LEARN TO LET GOD DEFINE WHO THEY ARE
What is The Identity in Christ Step?
Ages 14 to 15 are a crucial time to help your teenager process through what will define him/her or give them value, which is why we created the Identity step on the Faith Path. The purpose is to guide your child to grasp what it means to find their identity in Christ (as opposed to popularity, looks, accomplishments, dating status, sexuality, and other worldly things) and to live for an audience of One.
So many teenage issues—pressures, angst, depression, disappointments, and even bad choices—stem from an identity based on either what they have, what they do, or how they feel, which can be greatly avoided by an identity grounded in the Gospel. As you take the time to have ongoing conversations with your teen about their worth and purpose, remember that you must first model that your own identity, joy, and satisfaction are rooted in what God has said. This will, in turn, guard them against the lies of the world and the lure of hollow acceptance.
Put It Into Practice
Set aside time to purposefully ask your teen some of the following questions: When you think about who you are, what comes to mind first? The sports you play? The family you’re in? Who your friends are? Your school or grades? Your looks or popularity or how people see you? Who you’re attracted to? Your religious activity? Your likes and dislikes? Your dating status? What you own? How many likes you get on social media?
Although these might be appealing, there’s a problem with finding an identity in any of them:
- They don’t last: Any of these can be taken away or will change. You can get injured, friends let you down or move, feelings come and go, break-ups happen, and more. It’s exhausting to maintain such a fragile image.
- They don’t satisfy: An identity based on performance or possessions will never fill up the God-given longing for purpose, meaning, and security. True satisfaction and joy will always be missing.
- They become idols: Idolatry happens when we look horizontally for our identity and meaning in God’s creation when we were designed to find it vertically from our Creator.
The truth is, no amount of Bible-reading, going to church, praying, having fun friends, or having the best grades and clothes will ever give us worthiness or add value—in ourselves, we have nothing to bring to the table. While everyone has God-given value and dignity from being made in His image, our brokenness from sin leaves us without purpose or direction.
But there’s good news! The One who made you can be the One who defines you! The blessings that God offers in Christ give new identity and purpose to all who trust in Him. These include:
- Mercy and forgiveness of sins through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection (Ephesians 1:7)
- Eternal life in heaven that is secure and unshakeable (John 10:28; Philippians 3:30)
- A new mission in life: “you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9)
Living in relationship with God and in the life He offers, changes the way we live, makes life more purposeful, and brings true satisfaction and joy. No longer are you defined by what you do, what you have, or who others say you are. You’re who God says you are, and that’s all that matters.
It is incredibly freeing to have an identity that is simply received rather than achieved. You are free to celebrate if a friend gets a better grade than you or has better things than you, because you aren’t playing the comparison game. Rather, you have a fixed hope in the midst of failures or successes that doesn’t ride the waves of emotions that the world does. You no longer have to work for approval or do things to look good, because you know you are approved by God through Christ’s work on the cross. Now you daily live in light of His love and use your gifts to bring Him glory. Now you can serve and love others just for the joy of it—not to feel better about yourself or fill up some emptiness.
In addition to discussing the above points together, it would be helpful at some point to walk through the following eight identity statements with your teen outlined by author Jerry Bridges in his book Who Am I?
- I am a creature: I am created in the image of God, fully dependent on him, and fully accountable to him.
“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:2)
- I am in Christ: Jesus met my requirement to perfectly obey God’s law and took my penalty for not obeying; as my source of nourishment and power, He offers all I need to live the Christian life.
“I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
- I am justified: I am righteous before God because He has charged my sin to Christ and credited Christ’s perfect righteousness to me.
“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
- I am an adopted child of God: I have the privilege of an intimate father-child relationship with the King, and I look with expectant hope to an eternal inheritance that is more glorious than I can imagine.
“In Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith” (Galatians 3:26).
- I am a new creation: I have a new heart, having been delivered from the dominion of sin and united to Christ, and enabled to resist temptation (though I’m always forgiven when I do sin).
“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
- I am a saint: I do not belong to myself, but to Christ, having been purchased, declared holy by God, and set apart for Him.
“[Jesus Christ] who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14).
- I am a servant of Christ: By God’s grace, I serve Him by serving others in the role(s) to which, in His providential wisdom, He has called me.
“For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Corinthians 4:5).
- I am not yet perfect: In this life I am and always will be imperfect—a saved sinner, seeking to grow in holiness and relating to God on the basis of grace that is mine because I am in Christ.
“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own” (Philemon 3:12).