One of my sons is known for his academic prowess. He’s a good student and test-taker and works very hard at his studies. Even at a young age we could tell he was a sharp cookie.

One day, while sitting at the lunch table with a few friends, some boys started mocking him and calling him “nerd” because he did well on a test. 

We all know what elementary school boys can be like— they’re not the most thoughtful, encouraging group of human beings on the planet. 

Later that day my son told me what had happened. 

I felt my blood pressure rise as I asked for the names of the other boys. I wanted to talk to their parents about the way their kids had bullied my son. I knew from experience how powerful words can be— Proverbs 18:21a tells us that “The tongue has the power of life and death.” To this day, I still remember what some eighth-grade boys said to me when I started junior high— and that was over 30 years ago!

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” might be a catchy rhyme, but it’s certainly not true. 

I assumed he would be frustrated, upset, and embarrassed by their name-calling. Instead, he told me he wasn’t going to get frustrated or insulted by comments from elementary-age boys.

He told me, “Why would I worry about what a bunch of kids say about me when what God says about me is much more important?”

Mind blown!

Our identity comes from God

My 10-year-old son knew a truth that most adults don’t know or believe: our identity comes from God.

Our identity isn’t found in what others say, our income, our weight, our occupation, our marital status, or anything else in the universe. The world tells us our value is found in academic, athletic, relational, and financial success— but God tells us our value comes from Him.

  • Psalm 139:14 tells us we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” 
  • In Ephesians 2:10, Paul tells us that “we are God’s handiwork.”
  • John 1:12 tells us that we are “children of God.” 
  • Romans 8:1 tells us there is “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

The world tells us our value is found in academic, athletic, relational, and financial success— but God tells us our value comes from Him.

Ask yourself, “What if…?”

I could go on and on about all the passages that inform our identity in Christ.

Parents—the sooner you share these truths with your children, the better. The earlier you let them know where their value and identity is and is not found, the more prepared they’ll be for the challenges of life. 

While grades, friendships, sports, and extracurriculars are important in school, apart from a right identity in the Lord, all these activities will fall short or come up empty.

What if your child never plays in a game and always rides the bench?

What if they don’t go to college or no one asks them to prom?

What if they don’t make all-region choir or don’t qualify for the National Honor Society?

Do we believe the Lord will love them any more or less based on their athletic, academic, or relational achievements?

How do we help our kids embrace this truth?

Yes, we should do everything we can to the glory of the Lord (Colossians 3:23, 1 Corinthians 10:31). We’re to be good stewards of all the Lord has entrusted to us. But our identity will never be found in anything apart from Jesus Christ. 

You are not your grades, your car, your house, or your job. You are not your IQ, your abilities, or your social media following.

Your kid isn’t, either.

How do we help our kids embrace what’s right and true about them?

  • Read scriptures like those mentioned above. Memorize identity verses with your child.
  • Teach your kids to celebrate the accomplishments of others— take the focus off yourself and encourage others.
  • Pray they would rightly understand the truths about them from the Lord.
  • Help them to make friends with other kids who will point them in the right direction, not belittle or insult them.

More than anything: model the way for them. 

If you find your value and identity in your stuff and accomplishments, then they’ll follow your example. However, if you believe what the Lord says about you, they’ll follow your example as you follow Christ.

We are who He says we are.

May you and your children both grow in your understanding— of who God is, what He’s done, and who we are in Him.