The purpose of this broadcast is to share helpful insights in how to nurture and teach your teen about their spiritual identity. We will offer some biblical strategies to help teens become established in their identity in Christ.
DID YOU KNOW
George Barna, one of the world’s leading statisticians said in his book, “Transforming Children into Spiritual Champions-Why Children Should Be Your Church’s #1 Priority,” “moral foundations of children are generally determined by the time the individual reaches age nine. Our research confirms a parallel outcome in the spiritual dimension: By age nine, most children have their spiritual moorings in place.” What does this mean for us? If you want to have an impact on the next generation then you must do it by the age of nine. He also says that their spiritual identity will be set by the age of thirteen. We have a critical period of time to help these young people develop into spiritual champions—people that will know their Lord and Savior personally.
WHAT WE TALKED ABOUT
Take a closer look at the podcast mission statement: It is to equip parents in raising kids committed to God’s purpose for sexuality, the family, and the honorable use of all technology. Here are three points from the mission statement that relate to the topic of identity:
- Teens learn that no matter what happens to them in life, God loves them and cares about every detail of their lives (1 Peter 5:7)
- God is the source for their identity and purpose. We are His masterpiece and He created/crafted us for greatness (Eph. 2:10)
- The young men and women who navigate well through the challenges of this technological world know who they are in Christ
Parents must realize they have a lot of influence to mold and shape their child. Here are some points Dr. John wants to communicate first:
- Pray for discernment to know the bent and flow of your child (Prov. 22:6)
- Use teachable moments
- Be transparent about your identity in Christ
- Pray for influence and favor as you impart God’s concern for your teen’s heart/their glory
A resource that might guide parents in thinking through how they can love their kids unconditionally and help establish them in their spiritual identity:
- Gary Smalley and John Trent wrote a book called The Blessing
- They highlighted five specific actions from the Scripture, including: 1. Meaningful touch; 2. A spoken message; 3. Attaching high value; 4. Picturing a special future; 5. An active commitment
The Bible is filled with verses that pertain to spiritual identity. Dr. John highlights a few passages of Scripture that parents might want to focus on:
- Ephesians 2:10– For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
- 2 Corinthians 5:17– Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come – the old has gone, the new is here!
- Romans 8: 37– No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
- 1 John 3:1– See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God.
- Philippians 3:20– But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.
- 1 John 4:4– You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
- Romans 8:1– Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
- John 15:15– I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
- Romans 8:17– Now if we are children, then we are heirs — heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
Healthy “family” habits are important, too. Dr. John talks about some rituals or habits that would be helpful in establishing a child’s spiritual identity:
- One is to take pictures of each child from time to time. Then, you can write positive words about who they are on it: Generous, kind, an encourager, a great voice, good athlete, etc.
- Practice gratitude frequently at meals and holidays
- Family devotions that emphasize the Bible is our family story…help your teens see their life through the narrative of the Scripture…give an example
- Create a family motto (Phil. 4:13 or Matt 19:26), such as:
- Have courage and be kind.
- We can do all things through Christ
- Work hard and be grateful
- Trust God and family is forever
- Highlight spiritual gifts (giving, leadership, teaching, helps, hospitality, wisdom, faith, pastor, etc.).
Parents: Don’t be discouraged or overwhelmed by everything Dr. John has talked about so far. Here’s some encouragement from Dr. John:
- Tiffany Stuart said, “Building our teen’s identity is a long process. The Great Wall of China took years of extensive labor before it fended off enemies. Our teens live in a hostile culture. They need a wall of protection. As parental masons, we can help them stand up under fire.”
- We must hold on to the belief (and it is true!), God Loves Our Children More Than We Do!
- We must also seek the help of God’s People
The Church has an obligation to help shape spiritual identities too. Here’s how the church can have a positive role in helping teens strengthen their spiritual identity:
- Teenagers need models and mentors.
“O God, You have taught me from my youth, And I still declare Your wondrous deeds. And even when I am old and gray, O God, do not forsake me, Until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to all who are to come. ” (Psalm 71:17,18). Of course you as a parent are called to be the primary spiritual mentor of your own teenager but he/she also needs other godly adults!
- Teenagers need community.
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24,25). It is a place where teens can learn their spiritual gifting.
- Teenagers need mission.
When Jesus challenged his most-likely teenaged disciples to “go and make disciples of all nations”, he was tapping into the activist wiring of these young men. In the same way your teenager needs challenged with the mission to reach their peers with the good news of Jesus in a loving and contagious way.
- Teenagers need theology.
“Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.” Ephesians 4:14,15
Youth group is a place where teenagers can wrestle through the theology you’ve been teaching them (you’ve been teaching them right?) and have it reinforced in a powerful and personal way under the guidance of a youth leader who knows how to ask great questions and point teens to sound truth.
- Teenagers need a safe place to confess and confide.
“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” James 5:16
Often teenagers who struggle with sin and temptation have nowhere to confess and confide. They feel trapped by their sins. But a healthy youth ministry can create a safe space for teenagers to open up and talk honestly about their struggles. Of course, this doesn’t mean they should confess every sin to everyone. But it does mean that they should have a handful of others who know their struggles and can pray for and encourage them to walk in victory over those sins.
Teens, Tech & God is a podcast resource brought to you by Dr. John Thorington, director of Restoring Hearts Counseling in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and author of the book “Pure Teens.” The podcast is dedicated to equipping parents with the tools and knowledge to raise kids committed to God’s purpose for sexuality, the family, and the honorable use of all technology.