The Invention of Adolescence

I’m no book critic and this blog is not meant to be a critique of literature. However, right now I am reading a book that I have to share. The book is called Do Hard Things and it was written by two, 18 year old twin boys (Alex and Brett Harris). The book’s focus is to encourage teenagers to stop using adolescence as an excuse for bad behavior. The Harris brothers state that as teenagers, they should still be expected by others and by themselves to achieve great things. I’d encourage you to read the book if you get time.

The book has got me thinking a lot and I think these brothers are exactly right. The truth is, we as a society have created adolescence. That’s the time teenagers are able to “sow their wild oats” and “find themselves” according to the world’s standards. However, it hasn’t always been this way. If you go back to the beginning, being a teenager was not an excuse to slack off and make trouble. In fact, when you look through the Bible you find many young people who were able to do great things. David wasn’t much older than a teenager when he walked onto the battlefield with Goliath the warrior. Daniel and his three friends were all young when they stood faithful before King Nebuchadnezzar. Joseph was a very young man when he was sent off to Egypt to be a slave. All of these men recognized that they were called to do great things, regardless of their age.

I’m afraid that many of the youth within the church have chosen the world’s view of adolescence rather than God’s. Instead of taking this opportunity to grow and do great things in God’s kingdom, they have chosen to use their age as an excuse to be lazy or even sinful. Now is the time to change that.

In 1 Timothy 4:12, Paul wrote this to Timothy: “Let no one look down on your faithfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.” Sometimes we use this verse as a defense for our youth. We think it means that we shouldn’t look down on them just because they are young and may not act mature like they should yet. That’s not what Paul said though. No one would be able to look down on Timothy for his youthfulness because he was to be behaving like a Christian should. In other words, if the youth are striving to be active and faithful Christians, no one will have reason to look down on them.

In 1 Corinthians 13:11, Paul wrote this: “When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.”  Note that Paul mentioned two aspects of his life. He said he was a child and then he became a man. There was no in-between in which he was able to “sow his wild oats.” We need to help our youth understand that they are not only the future of the church, but they are the church NOW. It’s time to stand up and become the men and women that God expects of all people, from teenagers to adults.

I understand that not only teenagers read this blog and so let me make this application for all of us. It is time that we stop using excuses in life for the way that we act and behave. Regardless of our age, sex, race, background, etc. God has given ALL people the ability to be active Christians within His church. Let’s strive not to be like the final servant in Matthew 25 who took his talent and buried it in the ground. Let’s take the opportunities that God gives us and make the most of them, regardless of our age.

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About jbroberts

I'm a preacher student at the Bear Valley Bible Institute of Denver. View all posts by jbroberts

One response to “The Invention of Adolescence

  • Mike Johns

    Thanks for giving me some insight and knowledge to read the book and learn from your post. I’ll have a direct influence on high expectations for the teens I work with. God bless you man..for all the ministry you have, are, and will do.

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