Who do you think you are?

Exactly in line with Erikson’s works, I have found there to be one major “project” of teen’s high school years. That project is answering the question, “who am I?” As Jason eloquently wrote last week, this is a matter of identity formation, and is a psychological priority for teenagers. This stage is something of a nexus of development for youth ministry. Students who have navigated through the first four stages of faith development are now asking the question, “How does who I am line up with who I think God created me to be?” Do you see why this stage is so vital? All at once teenagers are asking, “Who am I?” and “Who has God created me to be?”

Successful navigation of this stage is best understood in terms a child’s toy. Success means that God has created you as a round peg, and your life acts as a round hole. Your faith, your values, your relationships, and your gifts and talents, all fit smoothly and snugly into the world of your life.

Unfortunately, many of us have been created to be round pegs yet we live square hole lives. We pretend to be people we are not and we embody characteristics that are more masquerade than identity. Or, we find ourselves entrenched in cultures (friend groups, work places, communities, etc…) that won’t allow for us to fully spread our wings – we remain fractions of our true selves.

This stage certainly requires some work. Identifying who we are, evaluating our surroundings, critiquing our culture, balancing our needs; all of these necessitate introspection and response. I am convinced that this is a stage that will be, and must be revisited throughout life. As our lives change, and situations change around us, our role in Christ’s kingdom may also take on new challenges. Fortunately, for those that have navigated their faith to this point, there are bags full of tools to help navigate both today and all that is to come.

My guess is that many of us ask this question, “Where do I fit into the kingdom?” This is not simply a project for teenagers. As those tasked with ministry toward teens, it is our duty to help students articulate these questions in their lives, as well as equip them with the necessary tools to continue that articulation throughout the years.

Imagine if our churches were full of people who embraced who God has created them to be, and lived lives that were in alignment with that identity.

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