Sunday, 06 November 2011 19:10

Helping Your Child with Identity and Worship

Written by  Brenda Payne
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Ever since our children were born, my husband Paul and I told them who they are and who they ought to worship. They were the covenant children of Paul and Brenda Payne and we worship King Jesus! For a long time, they never questioned this identity or the faith we held so dear. But one day that changed. My adolescent children, in varying degrees, began to question who they were and who or what they desired to worship. I have had a number of parents come to see me in despair because their once happy and obedient child seems to have been abducted by aliens! Perhaps, you are experiencing something like this and wondering when the alien will return your child in a normal state. After all, why would a daughter raised in a solid Christian family reject anything that is “girlie” or a son adopt the persona of a “wanna be gangster rapper”?

Think about the metamorphosis that is taking place in your child to grow from boy to man or girl to woman; while it may be normal, it’s absolutely monumental! It’s easy to take for granted how much is changing physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually in our children as they transition from child to adult. And at the core of what is happening they must come to grips with two foundational questions: “Who am I?” and “What am I living for?” These are the questions of identity and worship. If the process of discovery is a tumultuous road it can produce fear in the hearts of both parent and child leading to stress and strain in the relationship. As difficult as it may be, the quest for identity and worship is necessary for your child. I’ve heard it said, “God does not have any grandchildren only children”. Your child cannot get to heaven on your identity in Christ or your worship of the Savior; he must embrace these truths for himself.


Identity is gained either through a vertical relationship with God through Christ or horizontally through other people and circumstances. It’s easy to get wrapped up in and distraught over the outward dress, interests and behavior of your adolescent and totally miss the greater issues of the heart. Let his outward conformity be the clues that help you unravel the mystery of what or who is inwardly shaping his identity. Remember your own past and continual struggle with these issues and you will have a greater compassion for and patience with your child.

Worship is an identity before it is an activity. God made man to be worshippers which is why we worship (Romans 1:1-25). The Westminster Confession of Faith states the main purpose of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. However, English writer GK Chesterton wrote, “When man ceases to worship God he does not worship nothing but worships everything.” The word worship comes from the word worth. We all live for some kind of treasure. Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount whatever we decide is valuable is what will control our hearts (Matthew 6:19-24). Your child will either give worth to God or he will bow down to some other goal, value or purpose that controls his heart. And, whatever controls his heart will control his behavior.
It’s your job as a parent to help your child discover honest answers to these important questions. Ephesians 1:1-2 tells us, “It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for” (The Message). Here are six practical ways to help your children navigate the storms that often accompany their quest for identity and worship:

1. Pray! I know it sounds elementary but when you realize that you cannot force identity with Christ or worship of God on your child you will be brought to your knees. Only God can open the eyes of your child’s heart (Ephesians 2:8-9). We fail to pray because we often don’t feel like we are doing anything, but this is our best work on behalf of our child.

2. Don’t over-react! Regardless of what persona your child is adopting, remember that the root issue is his heart. If you over-react about what he is showing on the outside, he will likely be unwilling to reveal what’s going on inside. Cooperate with God through faith and don’t cower in fear (Isaiah 41:13).

3. Pursue the relationship! Aside from God’s Word and prayer, perhaps the greatest influencing tool in your child’s life is your personal relationship with him. Be intentional. Interview your child and get to know him. Be interested in his interests. Spend time together doing things he likes. Enjoy your child and the uniqueness with which God has made him. Model God’s unconditional love for sinners (Ephesians 2:4).

4. See failures as opportunities! Some of the greatest teaching moments in parenting will come after a failure. Learn how to see what Satan may intend for evil as opportunities to cooperate with God in order to bring about good (Genesis 50:20).

5. Focus more on putting the Word in than keeping the world out! While you will want to curb your child’s worldly influences as much as you are able, it is the Word of God that the Holy Spirit will use to draw your child away from the world and into a relationship with Christ (2 Timothy 3:16).

6. Consider engaging other Christians to speak into your child’s life! The value of community in the life of your young person cannot be overstated. There are times when your child is deaf and dumb to you but will open his heart to others. Pray for and enlist the help of other like-minded friends and family who will speak truth into your child’s life.

Persevere! Your child is in a state of becoming. He is the variable; you need to remain the constant. A child struggling for identity and worship can tempt a parent to question his own identity and worship. Don’t forget who you are and Who you worship. “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1) May your life be a compelling influence in the quest for identity worship in the life of your child.

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