The Power of the Individual in Shaping Identity
From the very beginning, God Himself declared that “it is not good for the man to be alone” (Gen. 2:18). Then, because of that need, God created Eve and brought her to the man. It’s interesting that while God COULD have met the man’s need in any number of ways, He ultimately chose to provide another human being to fill this void. God has designed us to be in relationship with other humans and this starts at the level of other significant individuals. Yes, in this instance the relationship was an intimate, husband/wife relationship, but there’s no reason to think Adam’s need for individual relationship didn’t extend beyond the need for a mate.
Parents, Families, and Caregivers at Church
The earliest attachments a child forms will be with individuals; typically a parent or primary caregiver. No serious observer would challenge the power and importance of this role in a child’s life. A baby needs the love, care, and interaction provided by a loving parent. But the power of the individual reaches beyond the parent to include siblings, grandparents, and caregivers the baby will encounter in places like the church. That’s why we are including the family unit as an aspect and extension of the individual. Part of the power and strength of a family comes from its smaller size. It is a group, but the smaller size of the group underscores the unique role of each individual within it. All of these interactions with significant individuals have an impact on the child’s understanding of the world and self (identity). The nature of that impact is determined by the nature of the interaction. Prolonged and pleasant interactions produce a willingness and desire to repeat the experience which leads to a deepened attachment and deeper learning.
A Powerful Opportunity
It’s hard to overstate the power of a significant individual in the early life of a child. Leaders in the church who have responsibility for discipleship will need to give careful consideration to strategies and resources that encourage spiritual growth in the family (because of it’s primary role in child-rearing) and attachments to people in the church who have a consistent presence in the child’s life (because in many instances this will be the baby’s ONLY attachment with a loving Christian). It is a powerful opportunity. To the degree that a church can facilitate the presence of a godly individual in the early life of a baby, the stronger will be the foundation of faith that will be laid in that baby’s life.
This article is one of a series related to identity.
Author, Speaker, Bible Teacher
See a list of other articles by Rick Edwards.