Helping People Develop a Biblical Identity
Much can be said (and has been said) about how any given individual develops his or her own particular identity. It is a complex process that takes place through life and continues until we die. It is not our intent to oversimplify this process or suggest that identity development can be reduced to a simplistic explanation. We do believe, however, that the Bible provides insight regarding certain fundamental things that impact a person’s identity and what that identity should be. This is the first of several articles that will speak to the issue of identity development and how parents and the local church can help shape an individual’s identity. The purpose of this initial article is to identify why we believe this is important.
Identity Is Important
A person’s identity shapes his or her capacity to see themselves as a distinct and valuable human being, as well as the KIND of person they believe they are. This is critical to healthy psychological development. When an individual is confused or wrong about his or her identity, it creates a variety of psychological and other kinds of problems. If only for this reason, children need to begin developing a distinctive and biblical identity early in their lives.
A person’s identity is also important because it influences his or her worldview, and it is their worldview that determines how they will live. We are all driven by a set of convictions about who we are, how the world works, Who God is, etc. These convictions define our worldview and determine, ultimately, how we live.
How We Live Matters
Our behavior is nothing more than the result of decisions we make throughout the day. This is true for people of any age, including children. The decisions we make and the behavior that results from these decisions determine our well-being. Our identity will shape these decisions and behavior and determine how we confront life, how we treat others, and whether we live with purpose, or not. A healthy (biblical) identity will produce a life that is rich, productive, and truly “abundant.” This is something we all desire for our children.
We cannot, therefore, afford to ignore the identity our children are developing. Their future happiness depends on it. Their future contribution in the Kingdom of God depends on it. The quality of their children’s lives will depend on it. We need to understand this and deal with it appropriately as parents and Christian educators.
Worldview Begins with Identity
An individual’s worldview begins with how they answer the question of identity. Who am I? Where did I come from? Why am I here? Do I matter? How a person answers questions like these will shape how they understand their world, their God, their time, their behavior, etc. At its core, then, the issue of identity is a theological or worldview issue.
Newborns and toddlers may not be thinking about the nature of God, but they are developing a very rudimentary understanding of who they are and how they relate to the world and the people around them. But this understanding will, eventually, shape their early perception of God and God’s people. Parents and churches need to give careful attention to how we help children develop a biblical identity.
This article is the first in a series related to identity.
Author, Speaker, Bible Teacher
See a list of other articles by Rick Edwards.