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Know Thyself

During adolescence and teen years, youth experience growth, change, and confusion as they make the transition from childhood to adulthood. Much of this process is a discovery of who they are and who they want to be. Inborn temperament and personality as well as life experiences, friends, family, teachers, the media, and hopefully the church all contribute to the formation of a persons identity. The goal of this study is to help students discover an accurate perception of themselves and their worth. The world and people around us value and define us by what we can offer if we are rich, our value and identity lies in our money! if we are beautiful, they lie in our looks! if intelligent or fast or strong, they lie in our abilities. "nfortunately, even in the church we fre#uently value people according to how they look and what they can do. This mistake is devastating in two ways. $irst, it perpetuates the lie that a persons worth comes from what he or she can offer. Those who are gifted or beautiful can easily depend upon themselves instead of on %hrist to find their identity and value and can have a distorted or inflated sense of their own importance. &hile those who appear less gifted or beautiful struggle with their self'esteem, believing they are of lesser worth. (econdly, it perpetuates the belief that what you do determines who you are, rather than affirming the )iblical perspective that who you are determines what you do. (atan uses this lie to keep %hristians from achieving freedom in %hrist and spiritual maturity.

The goal of this study is to help students discover an accurate perception of themselves and their worth in the context of their relationship with God and other people.

*lthough within the church we fre#uently act the same as the world around us, when we teach youth about self'esteem or personal identity we usually say that our feeling of self worth should come only from our relationship with +od instead of basing it on the views of those around us. )ut because we believe that what we do determines who we are, our failure to be able to feel good about ourselves based solely on +ods love for us, demorali,es us even more. -r, in the case of people with an already inflated perception of their self worth, this reassures them that of course +od loves them specially because they are special people. .ow can we help young people discover an accurate and balanced perspective of their identity and their worth/ )y helping them see themselves accurately in the context of their relationships with +od and with others. &e know that, before creating mankind, +od was complete and was love because .e had relationships within himself. .is very identity comes from those relationships there can be no $ather without a (on, nor (on without a $ather, and no (pirit can exist without being the spirit of someone. 0art of what it means that mankind is made in the image of +od is that we too derive our identity from relationships, from our relationship with +od and our relationships with others. 1ust like people cant know what they look like until they look in a mirror, +od and others are mirrors we must 2look in3 to learn about ourselves. )ut what about the lies that people around us tell us about ourselves, that we are worthless or insignificant unless we produce what they want from us/ &ell, like the rest of +ods beautiful creation, this way of learning about ourselves was damaged by *dams sin and the fall. (in in the lives of other people causes them to distort how they perceive us and what they reflect

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to us about ourselves. $or example a manipulative or abusive person will make another person feel worthless or insufficient with no basis in the actual worth of the ob4ect of their abuse. &hile a proud parent or grandparent might overestimate the talents or virtue of their offspring, causing, for example, a selfish, spoiled child to think of themselves as #uite giving and virtuous. &ith great fre#uency what people reflect to us has much more to do with what they think about themselves or with something going on in their lives at the moment than with who we are. *n alcoholic parent may cause their child to think that if only they were more obedient or didnt fight so much with their siblings the parent wouldnt drink, but it is clear to everyone else that the parents drinking is not dependent on the childs behavior at all. )ut the difficulty in seeing ourselves clearly in relationship with those around us does not all stem from the distorted reflection they present us with5even in a hall of mirrors you can still tell what color your hair is. It is difficult for us to see ourselves clearly partly because in many cases we either misunderstand what they are communicating or are either unable or unwilling to see ourselves as we really are. -ur idea of the world and of ourselves forms a kind of filter through which all of our perceptions pass. This filter causes us to have expectations of what we are going to experience, thus distorting our perceptions of what really happens. This selective perception is much easier to see in those around us than in ourselves. 1ust think of someone you know who is completely blind to a fact about themselves that everyone else knows but that no one tells them because they know that not only would it not be understood but bringing it up would create a very unpleasant situation.

In the study we identify four types of 2filters35expectations that can distort our perceptions the fear of failure, fear of re4ection, fear of punishment and feelings of shame. (ince the fall, mankind should experience these feelings since we have failed and shamed ourselves by sinning and so have brought upon ourselves +ods 4ust re4ection and punishment. )ut once someone has been born again all the punishment they deserve has been poured out on 1esus %hrist! their failure is replaced by the perfect righteousness of %hrist! they are no longer re4ected but are adopted into +ods family! and they have no reason for shame because they have been made a new creation in %hrist. &hen we can, with the help of +ods &ord and (pirit, begin to see ourselves clearly as .e sees us we can begin to experience healing in our view of ourselves, and our relationships with +od and with others. This can be a slow process as these ways of thinking and viewing the world are deeply rooted. )ut if we can help people see themselves as +od sees them5outside %hrist as +ods glorious handiwork yet sinful! in %hrist as righteous and beloved5while they are still young enough that they are forming their 2filters3 and before they have years of hurts to reinterpret, this process can be faster and more effective. )ecoming convinced of our identity in %hrist is a significant step towards spiritual liberty and maturity. It helps us put on the armor of +od so that we can take our stand against the devils schemes, especially his role as an accuser that uses our sins to make us doubt +ods love for us and the effectiveness of the sanctifying work of .is (pirit in our lives. It also strengthens our love for and relationship with +od. &henever we are uncertain of what someone thinks about us or think that they are angry with us, we tend to avoid them. )ut when someone cares about us, believes in us and encourages us we want to spend time around them. (o it is with +od. &hen we view .im as unconcerned about us or as angry with us, 4ust waiting for us to mess up so he can punish us, we treat him like the pagans treat their 2gods3 with respect, even fear, as we try to appease him with the things we think he wants5religious rituals and ceremonies, like going to church and trying to 2be good.3 &e are like the Israelites that the 6ord bemoaned when he said to them through the prophet Isaiah, 2These people come near me with their

It is difficult for us to see ourselves clearly partly because in many cases we either misunderstand what they are communicating or are either unable or unwilling to see ourselves as we really are.

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mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.3 7Is. 89 :;< Throughout scripture +od calls us, not to external conformity to a bunch of rules, but to enter into a real relationship with him. -nce we begin to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is .is love for us we want to spend time with .im and be more like .im. 0eople fre#uently critici,e young people for not obeying all of the rules or for not giving a 2good testimony3, but in our teaching of them let us follow the strong exhortation of 1esus to the religious leaders of .is day, 2&oe to you, teachers of the law and 0harisees, you hypocrites/ =ou clean the outside of the cup and dish but inside they are full of greed and self'indulgence. )lind 0harisee> $irst clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.3 7Mt. 8; 8?, 8@< )y helping the people +od has put under our care 2clean the inside of their cup,3 by helping them clearly understand what it means to be born again and what their identity is as sons and daughters adopted into +ods family, we help them deepen their heart relationship with +od. *nd out of that intimate relationship will flow the desire and the power to live in a manner worthy of their identity. Anowing who they are will deeply affect how they live their lives. &ith an accurate perception of themselves grounded in how +od sees them, they can walk again into the hall of mirrors that surrounds us in the world and try to both learn to discern truth about themselves in the warped images they see there, and also reflect +ods truth to those around them.

For further study we recommend the following books: The acred !omance: "rawing #loser to the $eart of God% by &rent #urtis and 'ohn (ldredge The earch for ignificance% by !obert )cGee *ictory over the "arkness by +eil ,nderson The Four -oves by #. . -ewis