3 Ways to Cultivate Identity For Boys
Guest Post from Raising Godly Boys Series:
Our current society has made it trendy to complain about having littles at home.
The cheerios in our hair, the inability to dress nicely or put on makeup without a kid screaming for our attention every second, etc. (although true and sometimes funny too). I’ve even heard a father recently discuss how children interfere with things like vacations and traveling. He complained constantly about the lack of sleep, and how a dinner at a nice restaurant was too difficult or not happening at all. It seems trendy to view having kids as “less than.”
There is no doubt we live in a society dominated by self. How challenging it has become for parents to raise their kids as God-fearing, healthy adults in light of the culture we face today. When it comes to raising boys, there are many challenges that await them on their journey to finding their identity as men.
We have a remarkable calling as parents to raise our boys to see God’s true identity for them.
First, we must understand what that identity looks like in ourselves. Are we walking in the calling God has for our lives? Do we love God with all that we are, love others, and seek opportunities to make disciples that follow him? Our identity isn’t wrapped up in who we are on this earth: not our careers, our status, not in being parents, not in what we have. Our identity is first being a child of God and who God has made us to be.
We demonstrate this well for our children when we understand who we are in Him and live that out daily.
Here are 3 ways to cultivate identity formation in boys. Remember, they will learn best by seeing this in your life first:
1. Ask questions to help shape their own self-discovery
They need to know who they are in Christ. What does your child think his own gifts and talents are? Point out things you notice and affirm, affirm, affirm! If your boys are young, ask them: “when you were doing chores yesterday, where did you feel like you did a really good job?” Instill confidence. What does integrity mean to them? Ask questions and give them opportunities to point out areas of integrity. Help them discover their spiritual gifts. Help them understand, without question, that their value comes from being loved by God.
2. Teach them to abide in God’s word
To be absolutely rooted in it. You may think you are doing this well right now. Keep at it. Instill in them a love for God’s word because a man cannot know who he is in Christ without first going to the Word to hear it and hide it in his heart. Boys require creativity in this area and as they grow older, there will be many situations arise that threaten to toss them to and fro. The area of emotions will be tested and can create false identities: being unknown, confused, betrayed, discouraged, as well as many others. Get creative when teaching them how to read scripture. Nothing should ever replace God’s words, but many supplements can help foster a love of reading scripture such as podcasts, RightNow Media or YouTube videos, worship music, following their favorite pastors, etc. Help them memorize scripture while they are in nature; they will learn from the visual and from association.
3. Establish a heart of giving
There is nothing like the pull of pride. We all have the desire to be successful, to be the best, to be well liked, and well known. Humility is pulling back the reigns and remembering whose identity we need to make known. This is not easy to teach or instill in our boys while living in a culture dominated with self- gratification. Fight against that rising tide at every turn. Seek to live by example. Take your boys with you, complaining or not, to serve others in your city. Randomly ask your boys a similar question at all ages: “What do you enjoy doing for others?” Then facilitate it. Let them lead on the ideas they have. Foster their giving of time, talent, and treasure. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21 (ESV)
This is a great time in life to be a christian parent—to fight for and help guide your boys to understand their identity in Christ in this ungodly world. Remind yourself daily in the midst of the difficulties and trying circumstances, that you have been given the beautiful, challenging gift of raising godly boys to grow into godly men. God has entrusted that to you. What an honor!
“Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” Acts 20:32 (NIV)
Dad’s tip: We have to remember that we want our boys to be who God created them to be, not who we want them to be. It’s natural to want them to like similar things you do, but remember it’s about shepherding their heart, cultivating their own identities, and teaching them to honor God in who they are as His children.
To read more ways on how to raise godly boys into leaders, you can find my post here in the Raising Godly Boy Series from Intentional In Life.
Photos by: Photo by Ben White, Danielle MacInnes and Robert Collins