Teach Christ Esteem to Our Kids so that They Can Become All that God Created Them to Be.
by Cherie Fresonke, @cheriefresonke
Do you desire the kids in your church to become all that God created them to be? When I was asked to do an article on this topic by Calvary Chapel South Bay, I decided to interview some kids and teens to see if they knew who they were in Christ. The children’s ages ranged from eight to eighteen. What I discovered broke my heart. The kids didn’t know who they were in Christ. In view of this, let’s learn how to teach Christ esteem to our kids.
Who Are You?
The first question I asked was: “Who are you?” Which was usually followed by, “What do you mean?” I would then rephrase the question with: “Whom would you describe yourself as?”
The answers ranged from quiet, adventurous, smart, nerd (for those of you with the gift of mercy this was spoken with pride), avid reader, various sports enthusiasts (probably fueled by the current Olympic games), baseball player, as well as quite a few “I don’t know’s.” Only one 9-year-old girl hit it out of the park with, “I’m Jesus’ daughter.”
The sad thing is each child that I interviewed was a born-again Christian. Most averaged being a believer for over half their young lives. Yet, when asked, “Who are you in Christ?” The answers ranged from “His child?” “A Christian?” Yes, all asked with a question mark on the end of their sentences to “I don’t know” and “What do you mean?”
Tragically, our Christian kids today don’t know who they are in Christ nor the power that is theirs as a result of being His. So, as ministry workers and youth leaders, how can we make a difference? How can we change the score?
Teach Christ Esteem
It’s time for us to teach Christ esteem. Start teaching the children in our Sunday Schools about who they are in Christ, so that they can become all that God created them to be.
[ctt template=”8″ link=”154ER” via=”yes” ]Teach Christ esteem, not self-esteem.[/ctt]
This does not mean to teach self-esteem. I cannot tell you how many conferences I have attended, Christian conferences, where youth leaders and children’s workers excitedly shared with me the various ways they taught kids how to raise their self-esteem.
According to Pastor Bob Hoekstra, “Esteem means to hold in high regard. Self-esteem [then is] learning to hold yourself in high regard.” This is just a politically correct word for pride. And we all know what God’s Word says about pride.
Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
If we truly want to teach children how to become all that God created them to be, why would we set them up for a fall? Instead, it’s time to step up to the plate and teach “Christ-esteem.” So below are four points to help you in your quest.
First, learn the truth of who you are in Christ for yourself.
For starters, let’s sum up the truth of God’s Word concerning who you are in Christ.
You are loved by God, created in Christ Jesus, complete in Him. You are not a mistake, for you are His workmanship, created in His image. You are His beloved, saved, and therefore a citizen of the Kingdom of God. You are His child, chosen by Him. In fact, you are a chosen generation.
In view of this truth, you are blessed by Him. You are of worth. You are His bride and forever protected by Him. You are forgiven, set free, victorious and more than a conqueror. You are reconciled to God and are a partaker of His divine nature. You are the temple of the Holy Spirit.
Because of this, you are able to stand firm, for you are strong in the Lord. In fact, you are strong till the end. You are near to Jesus, and you are able to sleep without fear, for you are promised rest. You are at peace with God. You are justified and you are considered the righteousness of God.
You are a new creation in Christ, and you are free from condemnation. You are redeemed. In fact, you are redeemed from the curse of the law and redeemed from the hand of the enemy. You are washed clean from your sins. For you are God’s. And therefore, know that you are the apple of His eye.
You are dead to sin, for you have been crucified with Christ and are sealed with the Holy Spirit. You are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. You are called by God. You are His ambassador. And you must never forget that you are always in His thoughts. (Adapted from the Go in Peace Biblical Discipleship Curriculum. Used my permission.)
Second, make decisions based upon that truth and not based upon your feelings or emotions.
Feelings and emotions are fickle. They change every day, sometimes moment by moment. Therefore, it is important to make decisions based upon who you are in Christ and not based upon your feelings. But how do we do this in a practical way? Let me give you an example.
Say that you are feeling down and blue, you don’t want to get out of bed. Instead, you just want to pull the covers up over your head and go back to sleep. If you do that, you are living by your feelings and not by the truth of who you are in Christ. Plus you are not becoming all that God created you to be, because God’s Word teaches that you are more than a conqueror.
Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.
In fact, God’s Word also says that you are strong till the end.
He will keep you strong till the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns.
—1 Corinthians 1:8
By remembering who you are in Christ, you can use this to strengthen you to roll over and get out of bed. When you do that, you are making decisions based upon the truth of God’s Word and not on your feelings. And more importantly, you are becoming the person God created you to be.
Third, find creative ways to teach “I am” statement within each weekly Sunday school lesson.
If we, as youth workers, start looking, we can discover within each Bible story a truth of who we are in Christ. Let me give you an example from an Old Testament story about Noah and the ark. Genesis 7:1 says:
Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation.
God protected Noah and his family because they were His. God loved them. And it is the same for every child in our classes who accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. If they have done that, then: (1) They are protected by God (see Joshua 1:5-9; Isaiah 43:2) and (2) they are the righteousness of Christ (see 1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 5:21).
In Christ, we are made righteous just as Noah’s family was found righteous. So start looking for the truth of who we are in Christ within each story. And, as you discover these truths for yourself, teach them to your kids in your classroom, so that they can make decisions based upon that truth. Click HERE for Who You Are in Christ Handout.
Fourth, play games and/or role play with the kids to help them learn how to make decisions based upon who they are in Christ.
For example, if the kids in your class think they can’t do something, remind them that the correct answer is: They can do all things through Christ who strengthens them (see Philippians 4:13). If someone calls them stupid, teach them that that is not the truth, for they are created in the image of God (see Genesis 1:26-27).
Another idea: Do you remember the game Simon says? Change it to Jesus says. “Jesus says, ‘You are forgiven.’” Have all the kids take a step forward since this is a true “I am” statement in Christ. Then say something like, “You are purple.” Since this is not an “in Christ” statement, if someone steps forward, they are out of the game. And so forth. It is a fun way to have the kids start learning about who they are in Christ.
Feel free to share your own tips and creative ways to teach kids about who they are in Christ. We all are looking forward to your tips and comments. Also, if you would like to learn more about this topic for yourself, take a peek at my book Clothed in Righteousness. Keep up the good work and may God richly bless you.
Cherie, thank you so much for this article. I know these Truths but needed some help engraving them into my children’s hearts. God’s richest blessings to you!
Thank you so much for this Cherie, I am in the process of preparing an “elective” session for teenage girls at a youth convention this summer so this information is very helpful to me!
I wish I had known this when I was a teenager!! 🙂
With love in Christ ~ Jen
Hi Cherie, I stumbled on this site, looking for ways to build up my teenaged son’s self esteem. we’re also struggling in our household at the moment because it’s exam time and we have a lack of motivation from a very intelligent unique character. i was taken aback by reading your article, when it suggested that it’s not self-esteem, but Christ-esteem our kids need. I have printed off the Who you are in Christ sheet and will share will my kids tonight.
Thank you so much!
Fantastic this is what we all need firmly in our hearts!! Thank you for sharing.
Hi! Thanks SO MUCH for sharing. This is what I am pursuing learning in my personal life and then to my children and on to Children’s Church.
Does anyone know of a curriculum for kids that teaches Identity in Christ?
Hi. I recently started using a VBS curriculum called Submerged. I am adapting it to use on Sunday. I hope this helps.
Thank you Cherie for a beautiful article reminding us who we are in Christ and to remind the children we raise or teach who they are in Christ!
Thanks, Michelle, for letting me know about “Submerged”. I was not able to find a sample of this curriculum online–very little concrete info. Hope it has worked great & brought kids closer to their Heavenly Father. 😉
Cherie suggested I include my private email to her:
My desire is to simply open communication lines with you….
I realize that you probably get very few of this type of email, but don’t discard it just yet. 😉
I came across your article “Four Ways to Teach Christ Esteem to Our Kids” again. The first time I read it was in June of 2016. God was stirring in my heart the same desire you had written about when you penned this article in March of 2014: the desire that Christian kids grow up learning who they are in Christ and ways to train them up to live out everyday life this way.
I’d taught Children’s Church for 17 years but no longer had time to write my own lessons from week to week as my schedule began to fill with each birth child and then adding homeschooling to the responsibilities as well as three family businesses. But as I searched for a curriculum that taught these “In Christ I am” statements, I began to realize that God was asking me to be the author. This article helped spur me forward. Thank you for that! It touched my heart that you took the time to interview children regarding their identity in Christ.
We are presently half way through writing this 12 lesson curriculum, complete with a memory verse, Bible story, hands-on activity, skit, game and object lesson for each lesson. We will be covering In Christ I Am…..
2. New Creation
3. Child of God
8. His Masterpiece
9. Healed, Restored, Made Complete
10. Strong & Victorious
11. I Am Who God Says I Am
Because God has developed a heart for missions within my husband and I, we plan to make this curriculum culturally translatable, if that makes sense. We have personal family friends in 7 countries and have personally ministered with a team in 5 of those countries. We are just regular ordinary people within whom God has expanded our hearts and our minds to see His Kingdom established in the hearts of His people.
Personally, I did not grow up with a mentality of God living in me….let alone writing any curriculum! I accepted salvation at the age of four and was raised in a Christian home on a farm in Kansas. But like your article said, I was taught self-esteem. Through heart wrenching personal tribulation and persecution, God has been teaching me how to live IN CHRIST personally.
My children’s church mentor, Gayle, and I are meeting weekly to simply put it on paper. Through losing her home in the Joplin, Missouri F-5 tornado of 2011 and drawing near to God throughout her ministry, Gayle is learning these truths through personal experience as I am. Every time we meet together, we are very aware of God’s truths being written through us.
Why have I picked you to tell? I don’t know. Other than the fact that there are so few ministries out there that I have found who see the importance of living IN CHRIST.
Thanks for reading my comments. Be blessed in your wonderful ministry that the Lord has equipped you to do IN HIM! (wink)
Just think how much different your life would be if you grew up understanding your value, as defined by the Creator of the Universe. You are His masterpiece. He sees you as He created you: complete, righteous, chosen, and healed. Do you think you would have made more wise choices in your childhood or later in life? Would you have been more bold in your stand for Christ or seen others in a different light? Would your personal relationship with God be different?
Let’s first seek God for revelation personally as teachers. Then we can teach these important truths to the children around us so that God will reveal it to them & they can live their lives fully for the Kingdom of God–nothing held back! Approaching life’s journey with a revelation from the King that there is nothing to fear will change their options in life, don’t you agree?
If you’d like further information on the curriculum or to encourage one another in the Lord, you can contact me at email@example.com ……
(oh my, I’m sorry, Cherie! Look how much room I’ve taken up!)
Sept 22, 2016
I absolutely love the scriptures you have put together. I have one question though. How do I teach these things to the children in our ministry knowing they are all not old enough to accept Christ as their savior and study the bible to be able to understand and count the cost of a relationship with Christ. My son is all these things but he will studybthe bible at about the age of 13 or 14 or later if he chooses so right now when I teach him theae scriptures they are geared towards those whobare saved. How can I word them to encourage him not disinclude him. For example, when I tell him he can do all things through Christ but only when he gets The Holy Spirit that is discouraging to him even though it is true. I know some ministries believe any age can recieve Christ and get the Holy Spirit however I believe and so does my church family that a child needs to beable to understand the life of Christ, be able to count the cost of having a relationship with Christ or not having one. A child should be able to see his or her sin and be able to make choices to die to it and fully repent to learn to live like a disciple. These are very difficult things to attain and require maturity. We have character studies that our middleschoolers can do and then as teens they can choose to study the bible if they want too. This had proven to be a great program but we lack for our children who range in the 5-12 age range. I feel as if we leave our kiddos in this age range to sink or swim and only reach out to help them when they reach the age of 12 and only if they are in middle school, which my son will be in 5th grade at 12 yrs of age. I want to learn how ti teach him the truths of who he is as a chosen one not justvwho he is once he has the Holy Spirit. Do you have any suggestions?
“knowing they are all not old enough to accept Christ as their savior and study the bible to be able to understand and count the cost of a relationship with Christ.” How is it that you ‘know’ this? I find this very sad that the children are underestimated by you and the church you attend. Children can very well know right from wrong and can much earlier than 13 and 14 understand what Christ did for them. As followers of Christ we must teach our children at an early age who Christ is. They must see that He loves him, because He does and it is sinful to keep that from them. My mother never sheltered me from the truth and I had a bible to read along with her and was fascinated by the “story” of Jesus Christ but she never told me I needed to trust Jesus as my saviour but told me the truth of who he is and when I was 12 The Lord made Himself known to me in a very real way.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14.
Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein. Mark 10:15
I tried to reply to all of you in the conversation, but my reply fell under Maranatha’s comment. Look there. Thanks for your important comment.
I’m only just now seeing this comment–Such a great question! It’s so important to be asking this question! (I wonder if you’re still asking it or if the Lord given you revelation on this already.)
I see in your comments though that you’re eluding to your own answer. “I feel as if we leave our kiddos in this age range to sink or swim and only reach out to help them when they reach the age of 12.” Acts 2:21 says that “ALL who call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” If there were an age stipulation, it would be mentioned in John 3:16, Romans 10:9-10 but verse 13 says “WHOSOEVER shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Children need to be old enough to know they have sinned before they can repent. I was 4 years old but our now 4 year old son has not yet reached this realization. Our other son was 5 when he genuinely repented of his sin and made Jesus the Lord of his life. He now has the power, grace and enablement to overcome the difficulties in his young life.
Allow them to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven! Who are we to turn our kids away! Jesus told us to “Let the little children come to ME. Do not hinder them.” Matthew 19:14
Is there a place in scripture that sets the age of salvation at 13 or 14? Many girls in Biblical times were married before that age! Today, there are so many things that a child goes through before age 13 that they need to rely on the Spirit of God living within them. Don’t deprive them of His strength & power. Don’t set the bar so high that you yourself could not do it! It’s a religious tradition you and your church are adhering to, not a command of the Word of God.
Matthew 23:13 “Woe to you…for you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men….nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.”
Please, for the sake of your beloved children, reconsider your stand on this issue. It is vital to their long term health in their relationship with the living God.
I too only recently saw Kristy’s comment when I received email notification of Tracy’s reply to her. I’m not sure why I missed it before. When Tracy’s comment came in I was traveling and didn’t have time to answer. I had it on my “to do” list for today, woke up and saw Maranatha’s reply. Well, the word were taken right out of my mouth. 🙂 Good job, Maranatha. I know that many believe a child cannot accept the Lord before the age of accountability. Some believe that is around the age of 13. But as Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” I accepted the Lord at age 9. I knew what it meant to have a personal Lord and Savior at that young age. And my two daughters accepted the Lord at age 5 and age 7, respectively. Many children accept the Lord at a young age and so it is important for us to teach them who they are in Christ. It’s not our place to keep the truth from them until they are older. Thanks to everyone for your comments. I enjoyed the conversation. God bless.