Teenagers should think, act like adults

The following is an excerpt from the book, Real Life Moments, by J. Mark Fox, C4FIC Board member.

Real Life Moments

“When I was a child, I spoke as a child…but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” (1 Corinthians 13:11)  

How many times have you heard commencement speakers say to college graduates, “Welcome to adulthood?” Or, “Now you are moving from childhood to adulthood?”

I believe there is something fundamentally flawed with the idea that teenagers should be expected and even taught that they should act and think and speak like children.

Jesus was 12 when he was brought to Jerusalem by his parents and participated with them in the Feast of the Passover as an adult. When they could not find him later as they traveled back to Nazareth, they were concerned. They hurried back to Jerusalem where they found their son in the temple, teaching the elders. Do you remember what Jesus said to his mother?

“Why did you seek me? Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?” (Luke 2:48-49).

Though he went back to Nazareth and was subject to his parents, Jesus was not a child any longer. He had to be about His Father’s business.

I believe that a child becomes a “young adult” at the age of 12 or 13.

Paul said that when he was a child, he spoke, understood, and thought as a child, “…but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” Paul did not put away childish things and become an “adolescent.” That is modern terminology that many use today to excuse the childish behavior of teenagers. Paul left childhood to become a man.

I saw a story a few years ago entitled “Kidults reluctant to leave the nest.” This report used new words popular in the culture now such as “kidults” and “adultescents,” and suggested the brain of a 17-year-old may not be as fully developed as a 30-year-old.

One sociologist remarked, “If someone insults you at work, an older teen is more likely to throw a punch where an adult would pause and make a sarcastic comment.”

I have to confess, neither one of those responses to an insult at work sounds mature, but the reason the 17-year-old throws a punch may have less to do with his brain’s maturity and more to do with what he has been told and taught since he was born.

The message teens hear most often today from school, media, psychology texts and even pulpits is, “You are a child and children behave childishly, and we can’t expect you to be anything else.”

But that’s the wrong message. If the biblical message is that adulthood begins at 12 or 13, then what have we done to our young men and women by continuing to treat them like children, and allowing them to behave that way?

Voddie Baucham said this at a Uniting Church and Family Conference in April, 2005: “We have taken an army that God has given to the body and said, ‘Lay down your arms and go play.’”

If Voddie is right, and I believe he is, then the implications for the church and the culture are enormous. We have stunted the growth of the next generation if we tell them they don’t have to grow up until they move out.

We have handicapped the church if we treat these young warriors like they are bench-warmers who are not expected to “get in the game” until they get married or finish college.

Prayer: “Lord, forgive me for the times I have treated my teens like they were still children. Help me to look at them with Your understanding and to challenge them to put away childish things.”

Action: Have a talk with your teens about what it means to move from childhood into adulthood and pray with them as they make that move. You may want to have a special ceremony in which you welcome each 12 or 13 year old into the rank of adults!

Take me back to C4FIC.org

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About C4FIC

The Council for Family-Integrated Churches exists to promote reverence for the gospel in order to reform the church and restore the home as an embassy of the kingdom of God.
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