WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
Imagine this scenario: Karen is at a party for no more than ten minutes when she hears a familiar voice behind her.
“Why are you just standing there?”
Karen turns to see her friend Jessica clutching two freshly opened bottles. She can tell that they contain alcohol. Jessica holds one bottle right in front of Karen’s face and says, “You’re not too young to have a little fun, are you?”
Karen wants to refuse, but Jessica is her friend. And Karen doesn’t want her friend to think she is boring. Besides, Jessica is one of the good girls. And if she’s drinking, then it must not be so bad. ‘It’s just a drink,’ Karen tells herself. ‘It’s not like taking drugs.’
If you were in Karen’s situation, what would you do?
STOP AND THINK!
To make a wise decision in this type of situation, you need an identity. An identity is an inner sense that tells you who you are and what you stand for. Armed with that knowledge, you’re empowered to control your life instead of letting others control it for you.—1 Corinthians 9:26, 27.
How can you develop that kind of strength? Answering the following questions is a good start.
1 WHAT ARE MY STRENGTHS?
Knowing your abilities and positive traits will boost your confidence.
BIBLE EXAMPLE: The apostle Paul wrote: “Even if I am unskilled in speech, I certainly am not in knowledge.” (2 Corinthians 11:6) With his thorough grasp of the Scriptures, Paul was able to remain firm when others challenged him. He didn’t let their negative remarks weaken his confidence.—2 Corinthians 10:10; 11:5.
ANALYZE YOURSELF: Write down a talent or a skill that you possess.
Now describe a strong quality that you have. (For example, are you caring? generous? dependable? punctual?)
2 WHAT ARE MY WEAKNESSES?
Just as a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, your identity can quickly change for the worse if you let your weaknesses control your life.
BIBLE EXAMPLE: Paul was aware of his weaknesses. He wrote: “I really delight in the law of God according to the man I am within, but I see in my body another law warring against the law of my mind and leading me captive to sin’s law.”—Romans 7:22, 23.
ANALYZE YOURSELF: What weakness do you need to learn to control?
3 WHAT ARE MY GOALS?
Would you get into a taxi and tell the driver to circle the block repeatedly until his car ran out of fuel? That would be foolish—and costly!
The lesson? Goals give your life direction and keep you from going in circles. You have somewhere to go and a plan of how to get there.
BIBLE EXAMPLE: Paul wrote: “The way I am running is not aimlessly.” (1 Corinthians 9:26) Rather than drift through life letting things happen to him, Paul set goals and then lived in accord with them.—Philippians 3:12-14.
ANALYZE YOURSELF: Write down three goals that you would like to reach within the next year.
4 WHAT ARE MY CONVICTIONS?
Without convictions, you’ll be indecisive. Like a chameleon, you’ll change colors to blend in with your peers—a sure sign that you don’t have your own identity.
In contrast, when your actions are based on your convictions, you maintain your identity—regardless of what others do.
BIBLE EXAMPLE: While likely still a teenager, the prophet Daniel “resolved in his heart” that he would obey God’s laws, even though he was separated from his family. (Daniel 1:8) By doing so, he stayed true to himself. Daniel lived according to his convictions.
ANALYZE YOURSELF: What are your convictions? For example: Do you believe in God? If so, why? What evidence convinces you of his existence?
Do you believe that God’s moral standards are for your own good? If so, why?
In the end, which would you rather be like—a fallen leaf that gets blown around by every mild breeze or a tree that withstands even powerful storms? Strengthen your identity, and you’ll be like that tree. And that will help you answer the question, Who am I?