5 Steps to Help Your Students Find Their Identity by Christ Roberts
Students often associate their identity with the places they belong – their family, their sports team, their youth group, their class, their school or any number of other activities in which they participate on a day-to-day basis. As youth leaders, we’re always trying to find ways to help students find their identity in Christ.
Patrick Snow, a senior director with Christ In Youth, has five steps that he employs when helping students find their identity.
“The ultimate goal is to help students realize that they are a child of God and they belong in His Kingdom,” Patrick said. “Once they realize that, it changes everything – the way they think, the way they talk, the way they act … everything.”
1. Tell them where they come from. Young people need to understand that they were created by God. They can’t know their purpose, identity or value until they know who created them and that He did so for a reason. Accomplishing this can be as easy as telling the creation story.
2. Send them on a discovery of God’s creation. Encourage them to explore the world and pay special attention to characteristics of things God has made. A tree is a tree because it does what trees do. Eventually they will discover the importance of living the role for which they were created.
3. Pinpoint what makes them unique. Help them write down five things that they know they’re good at. They may need some examples to get them started – Suzy may be a good singer, or Jimmy might be really good at math. Once they’ve identified those things, point them to the people in their lives who they can look to as examples.
4. Create a laboratory for trial and error. Manufacture healthy environments in which students can experiment with their gifts, skills and passions. Ideally this will be an environment in which it’s OK for them to fail – usually at home or at church. This is a way to guide them toward self-discovery of how to use their unique characteristics as residents in God’s Kingdom. Let your tech-savvy students help with the tech team, or encourage your good singers to talk to the worship leader about ways to use their musical talents.
5. Live in It. Students will look to you to set the example of what it means to live in the identity of a child of God. And the more you can help them adopt the characteristics of that identity, the better. Encourage them to create good habits, to continuously spend time getting to know their creator and to stay on the lookout for ways in which God wants them to live.