Of Grace & Growth: Speaking Identity to Little World Changers

By Sydney Dorr

We can all agree that some mom jobs are boring, right? Does anybody really love folding laundry? And I don’t mean watching TV while folding laundry, but matching socks without even an audiobook going. But with all the less-than-thrilling tasks of mom life, there is one job that never fails to inspire me. Mixing itself into the mundane and glorifying the grody, popping up frequently but unexpectedly, this job is one of the most essential: identity-speaking.  

One of my most primary, challenging, delightful jobs is to speak life to the identity God has given my sons. I want to be less concerned with teaching them how to behave than in teaching them who they are. And I want my sons to know how to speak life and call out identity in others.

The Father knew my son’s identity and purpose before they were even conceived. It’s not my job to determine who these boys are, but to discover who God has formed them to be and to use my words to call that forth. When I tell Gideon that he is brave, I’m not just inciting him to feel brave, I’m reminding him that Courage is part of his God-given identity. When I call across the room to Caleb “You are staying so focused putting away those blocks!” I’m not just encouraging him with praise, I’m helping him to know himself as someone created to be capable and determined. This is the kind of life our words are capable of carrying – the life of knowing who you are and what you were created for.

It’s amazing the difference it makes in our house when I concentrate on speaking identity to my sons instead of focusing on telling them what to do. Gideon is a lot more motivated to clear his plate when I tell him “I know you don’t feel like it right now, but you are a responsible and helpful person who can do this job” rather than “I told you that you need to clear your plate!” It changes my perspective and mood as well. I appreciate my kids a lot more when I am reminding myself who they are by the words I speak over them. I remember that I am raising boys who are called to be compassionate, trustworthy, powerful, honorable, courageous, capable and affectionate. My frustration over backtalk and unfinished chores diminishes; my sense of joy and humility over the weight and blessing of raising such great people increases.

And what I really love is that I am not the only one who gets to recognize identity and speak life; my boys get to do the same. Recently Caleb was dragging his feet over cleaning up and Gideon was taunting him for being slow. After I prompted him to “speak life” and find something encouraging to say instead, he changed his chant to “You can do it! You can do it!” With Gideon cheering him on, Caleb quickly finished the job. It was a sweet moment where Gideon was able to speak identity to his brother and in turn step into his own identity as an encourager, while Caleb discovered that he could, in fact, do it. “It’s so nice to say nice things, isn’t it, Mom?” Gideon later commented. Indeed, small son.

So today, friend, I’m going to remind you that you were created to be and are powerful, peace-filled, truth-speaking. There are people in your life who need you to see who they were always meant to be and to speak words that give life to that identity. There is so much beauty in the identity God fashions in his people – let’s call it out.