Looking to Christ, Not Our Children

‘Who am I?’ That’s a big question, isn’t it? It’s a question that we all ask and may even struggle to answer at times. It is centered around our identity.

Let’s cut right to the truth: if you are a Christian, we know the answer. We are sinners who have been saved by grace through the power and working of Jesus Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. We are God’s creation whom He fashioned in His image. We are children of God whom He knows, loves, and holds. Ephesians 2:10 tells us that we are God’s workmanship that has been created in Christ Jesus for the purpose of good works.

So why is it that we anchor ourselves to things other than Christ and try to define our identity through those things. We find ourselves doing this, don’t we? We begin to label ourselves based on what we do, what we are a part of, what we have done, or even by who our lives intersect with. And we don’t just label ourselves by these things, we begin to see our worth through them. There is also the negative side of how we find our identity: what we haven’t done, what we wish we had done, by our mistakes, or even by what we have allowed other people to degrade us into believing that we are.

As parents, one of the common things we misplace our identity in is our children. We begin to see ourselves primarily as the parents of [insert child’s name here]. This especially takes shape if our kids are smart, popular, or athletic. We also may place our identity in their current accomplishments as well as our hopes for their future success. This can cause us to push our kids to heights of manmade success, ascribing to them an identity based on their performance, that is both wrong and unhealthy for you and them.

Why do we do this with our kids? Author Paul David Tripp in his book Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family calls it ‘identity amnesia.’ He defines this as getting our identity from something other than God and the work of his Son…like our children. We end up engaging in identity replacement. We allow our kids, who they are or who we hope they will be, their successes, and their perceived status, and we let it replace God as the one who defines our identity. We worry about how our kids are viewed because we think that it changes the way that people view us. A successful/popular/athletic/smart child means that we are excellent parents. If our child has behavior struggles, lags in school, or makes the critical error that loses the game, we think that people are judging us as parents and that we become less than. Think about the pressure this puts on our kids!

Parents, let’s be reminded of whose we are and therefore who we are through 2 Peter 1:3-4. Peter writes that we have been granted all things by the divine power of Christ in things pertaining to life and godliness through the knowledge of Him. He has granted to us his great promises so that we will be partakers of the divine nature, allowing us to escape the sin and corruption of this world. None of this is by our own doing, but through the one who knows us, loves us, and created us. This is what defines us! This is who we are! Tripp writes, “No matter what is happening with your kids, you can wake up in the morning and know that you are deeply and faithfully loved by the most important person in the universe.” This has nothing to do with what you have done, what your child has done, or what others think of you. We are God’s workmanship through Jesus Christ. We are co-heirs with Christ to the blessings of God for all of eternity.

Let me encourage you to snap out of your identity amnesia if you have been replacing God as the source of your identity with your children. For our own good and for the good of our children, we ought to remember whose we are, which is what defines who we are.