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Lesson 3 Starting Up

Sticky Identity

For this lesson, have students and parents seated at different tables. Be sure to have a discussion leader at each table. Church announcements, upcoming events, and prayer. Quick recap of The Not-So-Sticky Faith Reality and The Sticky Gospel. Who Am I? The big question of adolescence (and maybe life itself): Who am I? From a Student: Everybody knows who I am, and they tell me all the time. My mom knows Im a good kid. My dad says I am lazy but a natural athlete. My teachers tell me Im smart, but I dont care enough to live up to my potential. My friends think Im funny. Girls think Im shy. I think Im all of thoseand none of those. Who the heck am I? Im everything to everybody, and nobody to me. Many teenagers, especially those in high school and college, are desperately trying to integrate multiple identities or real mes. Psychologist David Elkind has called it the patchwork self because the developing identity of young people resembles a quilt with many mismatched pieces of fabric stitched together. And out of this patchwork self, many young people are struggling to form a cohesive identity. Where We Are Headed: We can help instill Sticky Faith by modeling for and reminding our children that their ultimate sense of themselves is best found in the Lords answer to the pressing Who am I? question. But before we get there

Sticky FindingsIdentity Formation 1. Identity formation is affected by brain development. Though there is much discussion and disagreement over the particulars, most scholars and scientists agree on this: the brain is going through big changes during adolescence. The following labels remind us that our children are at different stages of development and therefore think about identity differently: Early Adolescence (10/11-14) Late Adolescence (14-18/20) We now know that the brain functions with the concreteness of a child throughout early adolescence and begins the abstraction of adulthood at around age fourteen. 2. Identity formation is a long and winding process. Because young people are developmentally in flux, sometimes they will possess adult-like maturity and at other times theyll surprise us with an attitude or behavior that demonstrates the exact opposite. We need to remember that all of this conflicting, inconsistent, and confusing behavior is actually our kids way of discovering who they are and making the commitments toward who they want to be. 3. Students often shelve their faith for a time. Many college freshmen are overwhelmed by daily life managementmanaging school, relationships, and other commitments. So instead of diving into figuring out who they are, students store away important parts of themselves (often including their spiritual identity) in an identity lockbox. As they try to figure out the brand new task of daily life management, they put their faith on hold for a few years, or shelve their faith. Our Mission: To help students develop Sticky Faith, it is our job first to understand their process of trying to discover who they are, and then to create the environment that supports this discovery and commitment process.

Developing a God-Shaped Identity 1. Answering the Who Am I? question. Spirituality writer Henri J. M. Nouwen lists three ways we seek to answer this question: I am what I do. I am what I control. I am what others say about me. Table Talk Question 1: Which of these three are you most prone to rely on? Describe what that looks like and feels like. Instead, we seek the Lords answer to this question. And here is what the Bible and the story of Jesus reveals to me about my identity: I have been created, redeemed, and called to live as Gods precious and beloved child. Two Big Questions: Is this how you see yourself? Is this the identity you are seeking to pass down to your child(ren)? 2. Allowing community to develop personal identity. A rich and sustainable faith recognizes that as I walk in community with Gods people, I ultimately discover who I am. We must build a Christian community around our kids, creating a network of caring believers who will pray for, mentor, and bless your children with their presence over the course of their lives. Make a commitment to walk through life together with other faithful individuals and families. 3. Using rituals to reinforce identity. A ritual is simply a social custom, or even a normal way of going about something, that provides the comfort of history, regularity, and even tradition. Healthy rituals can include both daily activities and yearly celebrations.

Table Talk Question 2: What are some rituals that a family or a church family can practice in order to develop God-shaped identity and sticky faith? (Share some from pp. 61-62 if people have trouble coming up with some.) 4. Using hardships as opportunities for growth. Romans 5:3-4: Suffering produces perseverance; perseverance produces character; and character produces hope. I wish it werent this way, but suffering is one of Gods primary avenues of growth and identity formation. Any experience your child has with the stresses and strains of life, whether they are major or minor, can be valuable in helping them wrestle more deeply with who God has made them. Developmental psychologist Robert Kegan says, People grow best when they continuously experience an ingenious blend of support and challenge. 5. Valuing character growth above extracurricular success or academic achievement. With sports and academics, celebrate and affirm character development above achievement (like modeling and teaching respect for others, especially adults and those peers that others shun). 6. Modeling a relationship with God. Model for your child that, more than just a worldview or a way of life, Christianity is first and foremost an intimate relationship with the Father. Remind her that in the end, you as parents are also fellow children of God, and therefore God is the Father of the entire family. Closing Out Table Talk Question 3: Which of these ways to develop a God-shaped identity stood out to you as especially important?