I clearly remember being a teen. My peers were such a big influence on shaping me. Black jeans and a band t-shirt and if it gets cold throw on the flanno. That was a two year phase. Previous to that was baggy pants, cartoon t-shirt and a skateboard. Possibly a one to two year phase and so it goes on. Finding identity then was hard, but now we live in a world that is highly connected, not slowing down or switching off. How and where are our young people finding safety and security and what or who is shaping their identity?
During my Year 9 Health lesson on ‘Stereotypes and Expectations’ I was reminded of one of the greatest gifts given to mankind: the gift of choice. The ability to choose is one of God’s most generous gifts, knowing that if He creates us with choice we could choose to reject Him. I’ve taught this concept of stereotype awareness and how people’s expectations shape our identity previously, but have never made the connection that the ability to choose is extrinsically linked to how we see ourselves and other people.
A dominant message today is that we can choose to be whatever we want to be. Finding our identity is highly encouraged and, when found, is validated by a community that can be found easily in the digital world. Alternately, if you’re chasing a new identity then there is the opportunity to adapt and change – morphing into that new identity.
Jesus spoke very clearly about being the Way, the Truth and the Life. He didn’t condemn the people he met, instead he listened and spoke encouraging words which challenged them to choose life – His way, His truth and His life. True security and identity can only be found in knowing Jesus. This is where true purpose can be found. My deep hope for our College is that in this ever changing landscape, my colleagues and I would be Jesus to our students and encourage our students to choose life, His life.