Home Youth Leaders Articles for Youth Leaders How to Protect Against (Spiritual) Identity Theft

How to Protect Against (Spiritual) Identity Theft

One of the critical tasks facing youth workers today is the challenge to help students discover their identity in Christ.

Teenagers are getting older and…
…| gaining new freedoms
…| thinking more critically about their self image, and
…| making important decisions about their identity.

Teenagers, for the first time in their (short) lives, are making conscious decisions about their character. Adolescents are tuning into the signals around them and choose “what works” for them. Testing the waters, they begin moving in a particular direction. The urgency is dire because many decisions made in junior high and high school will impact a life for decades.

In our opinion, IDENTITY is a mixture of actions, motives, and a sense of value. What should I do? Why should I do it? Do I really matter? Using the same three principles we talked about on Tuesday and Wednesday, let’s take a look at how they might apply to helping students discover their identity in Christ:

It’s tough to hold up the mirror and take a deep look at who we are, but this is exactly what we need to do if we’re going to disciple students! Who are we really trying to impress? What do we love and what do we hate? What gives us joy and what ruins our peace? What influences our thinking and motives? Where do we find our value?

Confidence and contentment are some of the byproducts of believers who view themselves from God’s perspective: an original masterpiece who is utterly loved and immensely valuable. We can know all the right things to say, but without an identity grounded in godliness, our teaching is nice advice rather than genuine wisdom.


When the time is right and the opportunities preset themselves, the self-evaluation questions that we’ve asked ourselves can be asked of teenagers. People need others to ask the good and difficult questions because we need the balance that comes from a outside perspective.

It’s safe to assume that your students respect you as a spiritual leader and are ripe and ready to learn from your personal spiritual journey (by the way, they are learning whether you’re ready or not). Talk about your life growing up, the people who influenced you, the mistakes you made, and the way your identity in Christ impacts your life on a daily basis.

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Doug Fields has been in youth ministry since 1979 and former pastor to students at Saddleback Church in Southern California. He's the author of 50+ books, including the best-selling Purpose-Driven Youth Ministry & Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry. He's also the founder of Simply Youth Ministry, an instructor at Azusa Pacific University/HomeWord, and on the leadership team with Youth Specialties. You can connect with Doug through his blog at www.downloadyouthministry.com! More from Doug Fields or visit/subscribe to Doug's blog at www.dougfields.com