Within the past two years, the Lord has gifted my wife and me with two beautiful daughters. One of the special experiences for me as a new parent was giving them their names: Daisy Jane and Penny Lane.
As we named them, I was struck with a sobering thought: This is only the beginning. As parents, the finished work of giving our children their names only leads to the never-ending work of helping them understand their identities.
Deciding what they’d be called is the first parental act. Raising them to know who they are lies at the heart of parenting itself.
This truth is crucial for all parents to understand because if we are not telling our children who they are, someone else will.
Identity the World Offers
Like a kid with play dough, the world works to mold us into its own image (Romans 12:2), and one of the ways it does that is by offering us (and our children) false identities to adopt. Though their expressions may differ, the major identities our kids are offered by the world fall into the following categories.
“You Are Your Gifts.”
Some of our students are constantly being told that who they are is measured by how smart, artistic, or athletic they are. Their GPA determines their significance, their skill defines their worth, and their stats decide their value.
“You Are Your Feelings.”
Other students are being tempted to believe they are nothing more than what they feel. They’re told to find their identity within themselves and are thus led into a life of instability, tumult, and chaos as their adolescent feelings change more frequently than the tides.
“You Are Your Looks.”
Billboards, TV shows, movies, and magazines constantly preach the soul-crushing message: “You are only as valuable as the beauty of your fashion, form, or face.”
“You Are What Others Think.”
Within school and friend circles, our kids are often trained to think their peers get to decide who they are.
Make no mistake, the world loves to preach; it just doesn’t do it behind pulpits or only on Sundays. Every day the world preaches to our children from television screens, websites, songs, and peer groups, and it’s always telling them, “This is who you are.”
So, what do we do? We must labor to help our kids find their identity in the only One who has the right to give it.
Identity That God Offers
Thankfully, God is not silent but has spoken clearly to us in the Scriptures about who we are in Christ.
Though there are innumerable passages about the believer’s identity, I find myself constantly coming back to Colossians 1:22 for a simple but profound reminder of who I am because of what Jesus has done. Paul writes:
But now [God] has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.
You can read this passage to your children and tell them, “Because you trust that Jesus has died for you, no matter what you feel or what happens, this is who you are …”
“In Christ, You Are Reconciled.”
You are not a stranger or an enemy to God but His dearly loved child (1 John 3:1). Through Jesus, your relationship with God has been healed.
“In Christ, You Are Holy.”
God has declared that through trusting Jesus you are no longer identified by your sin but by His own holiness. Even if you don’t feel it, you are set apart from the fallen world and are God’s very own treasure.
“In Christ, You Are Without Blemish.”
Jesus’ blood is God’s soap, and through faith in Him you are perfectly clean in His eyes. Through Jesus the dirtiness of sin has been washed away and you are “whiter than snow” (Psalm 51:7).
“In Christ, You Are Free from Accusation.”
Although your own heart may at times condemn you for your sins, God doesn’t. Jesus has paid for all your sins on the cross, and now you’re free from them all! No one can accuse those whom God has forgiven.
With Colossians 1:22 and other Scriptures (e.g., Romans 5:1; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Colossians 3:12; 1 Peter 2:9; 1 John 3:1), fight to help your children understand who they are in Christ. May it never be said that the world is more diligent in preaching lies to our children than we are at joyfully proclaiming to them God’s truth.
Parents, remember that naming our children is only the beginning of raising them to understand who they really are.