What kids believe about themselves influences all their thoughts and decisions. If their worth and identity are found in their friends, their success, their grades, their sports achievements, their ability to fit in or be “popular,” or how good they can be, then they will constantly wonder if they are enough or feel as though they are failing. This is just part of why it’s so important they build identity in who God says they are—and find their identity in Christ.
What is identity?
Identity is what we believe about ourselves, our worth, and our purpose. We can help kids discover that their identity is found in God’s big story—where Jesus is Lord and the Holy Spirit is present. And we need to leave room for their big questions and big ideas while leaving no doubt about who God is or who we are in Him.
As followers of Jesus, our identity is rooted in Christ. We are all beloved children of God who are known by God and loved by Jesus, and we are invited to be led by the Holy Spirit.
God’s big story doesn’t start with the Fall—it starts with Creation. People were created in God’s image to reflect Him and have a relationship with Him. We have the privilege of helping kids discover their true identity in Christ and help them live with confidence as they claim their inheritance as image-bearing children of God, sharing His wonder with the world.
The more kids come to know and look like Jesus, the more they grow in godly character and are shaped by the Holy Spirit.
Why is identity important?
All kids wonder … They ask questions like: “Who am I?” and “What makes me unique?”” and “Why is my life important?”
These are questions of identity. Kids are on a journey of discovering their identity, and we can speak God’s truths over them and affirm their identity in Him so they can internalize it and combat the lies the world and the enemy throw at them.
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What do kids need to know about their identity in God?
You belong. You are known by God.
God, the Creator of all, knows me. He has always known me. He has had me in mind from the very beginning. God made me, and I am His masterpiece. He made me in His own image to do the amazing things He has prepared for me to do.
Kids have a natural desire to want to fit in and be liked.
When my son came home from first grade and declared, “No one in my class likes me. The boys who are the leaders in our class said that everyone could play except for me.” I could see his spirit was crushed, and his heart was discouraged.
What he believed in that moment was the lie that he was not loved, worthy, or good enough—he didn’t belong. He tried to come up with ways he could get the boys in his class to let him play at recess. He tried bringing his favorite whiffle ball set and football to play with, but day after day, he came home crushed that those few boys in his class continued to exclude him.
What is always true about identity in God?
As a mother, I wanted to march to that playground and make those boys allow my sweet son to play. But, instead, I reminded my son the truth of his identity. Helping our children discover their identity sometimes means pointing out the lies the world is telling them and then helping them replace the lies with truths from Scripture.
I spoke these familiar words over my son, “You are fearfully and wonderfully made. You are known by God, loved by Jesus, and led by the Holy Spirit. God has great plans for your life.” The words he has heard declared over him almost every day.
Sadly, those boys in his class didn’t include him, but other kids did, and the experience taught my son empathy and awareness of others. It also taught him to remember his worth is found in what God says about him—not what others say.
Kids also need to know: You are loved by Jesus.
Jesus’ perfect life, death, resurrection, and promised return are God’s love story. Jesus came to fulfill God’s promises to His children. Through Jesus, we have salvation.
Jesus loves you no matter what. His love has no beginning and no end, and we get to love Him back. God’s love is big and generous. Jesus is the way to God’s love. Choosing to follow Jesus means choosing God’s love and God’s way.
You are led by the Holy Spirit.
You are not alone. God gives us the gift of His Holy Spirit when we choose to live for Jesus.
When we trust in Jesus as our Savior, we receive the Holy Spirit as a gift, and He lives inside of us. When we let the Holy Spirit lead, He strengthens us, and we grow more and more like Jesus.
You are a child of God. God’s amazing story changes your own. Because God knows you, Jesus loves you, and the Holy Spirit leads you, you get to be a wonder-filled reflection of God to the world.
You get to be part of God’s story, and your life tells of God’s wonder.
How can we share with kids all they have access to with an identity in Christ?
We can give kids language to know their identity in Christ. We can affirm, declare, and speak truth and blessing over our kids every opportunity we get. And we can read the Bible to them and teach them who God is. We can encourage them to memorize verses that speak to the truth in their identity.
When we give kids an opportunity to repeat back to us the truths affirmed in the Bible, the words plant seeds of truth and faith into their minds and their hearts.
We can model it. When we believe the truth about our own identity and believe that all people are created by God and are loved image-bearers, that impacts how we view and treat others, and it also influences kids.
We can model for kids what it looks like to seek God for our value and identity in our own lives, and we continually pray with and over our kids to know who they are in Christ.
Every night as I’m tucking my kids into bed, before I walk out of their bedrooms, the last thing I do is whisper affirmations over them. If for some reason I’m in a hurry or forget, my kids will ask, “Mama, can you say all the things about me?”
And I pause, turn back, and whisper the affirmations over them. I want the last thing they hear at night before they drift off to sleep to be God’s truths, reminding them who they are and whose they are.
Are there practical things we can equip parents and volunteers with as they walk alongside kids?
Encourage parents and kids to memorize the following truths from Scripture. Post them where families can see them.
Speak these truths over kids and pray for them to internalize and believe them.
- I am fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:13-14)
- I am loved by Jesus, and I get to share His love too. (John 13:34, 35)
- I was made in the image of God and am an image-bearer. (Genesis 1:27)
- I was created with a purpose and God has prepared good works for me to do. He will give me everything I need to do them. (Ephesians 2:10)
- I am chosen by God. I am valuable to Him. My life tells of His wonder. (1 Peter 2:9)
- I am a citizen of heaven; this world is not my home. (Philippians 3:20)
- I am a child of God and an heir of Christ. I am led by the Holy Spirit. (Romans 8:14–17)
- I have value because God loves me and sent Jesus to die for me. (Romans 5:8)
- Nothing can separate me from God’s unending love. Through Jesus, I am more than a conqueror. (Romans 8:37–39)
- I am set free from sin through Christ. I am forgiven and made righteous. (Ephesians 1:7)
- God has good plans for my life; plans for a hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)
- The peace of God will guard my heart and my mind through Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)
- I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13)
- I am blessed, chosen by God, and through Jesus, I am saved, forgiven, and made holy. I am a child of God. (Ephesians 1:3-7)
- I do not have a spirit of fear and timidity, but God has given me a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7)
What kids believe about themselves is the foundation on which they build their lives, beliefs, and relationships.
The words we speak over kids, the lessons and Bible stories we teach (and the way we teach the Bible), the songs we sing, the conversations we have, and the advice and comfort we offer are all planting seeds that will grow into the fruit of identity that comes from being rooted in Christ.