Categories
youth ministry

How do you measure teenage maturity?

News on teenagers consistently conflicts.

  • We are ecstatic about teenage Olympians. No one puts a teenage qualifier on their accomplishments, an Olympic medal is an Olympic medal, it doesn’t count for half a medal because someone is under 18.
  • Our laws define someone as an adult the moment they hit 18 while providing a completely different legal statute for people under 18. Yet neurologists and developmental/behavioral psychologists are proving that every adolescent matures are a different pace depending on a wide variety of variables. (Some inborn, some learned, some internal)

The Love/Hate Relationship with our Nations Teenagers

We have a love/hate relationship with teenagers. We love their accomplishments, we are disgusted when they fail. We are simultaneously infatuated and disgusted by teenage sexuality. Gasp, Justin Bieber has a girlfriend! OMG, I can’t believe she might be pregnant. Oh, I’m going to watch 2 hours of TV talking about it and tweet/Facebook about how disgusted I am… gimme, gimme, gimme more news on teenage sexuality! I’m not exaggerating all that much, am I?

A 16 year old wins a gold medal and she’s on The Today Show. That girl is so mature for her age! (Succeeding at sports makes you mature) Her girlfriend, in the same school and grade gets pregnant? Oh, becoming a mother isn’t an accomplishment… that’s a statistic! She is SO STUPID! We might even make her go to a different school. 

We (rightfully) decide things have to change when a teenager attempts suicide. But funding the school counselor or making sure her parents insurance covered her treatment before it was a suicide attempt? Well, common logic states, that’s really a parental issue.

This continues on after 18, of course. Those who go to college– well, we give them a pass on being adults because they are students. And students can’t be expected to act like adults because they are students. So we allow college students a pass on being mature. In fact, walk around a college campus and you’ll see that “what’s cool” is to act like a 13 year old, fully fulfilled! (Think about it… a “cool college guy” is loud, obnoxious, gets drunk, sleeps around, avoids responsibility, and doesn’t take school all that seriously. There’s nothing mature about that– but college culture celebrates this as a fully embraces college lifestyle.) But someone doesn’t go to college? Well, they better get a job and fend for themselves. They are an adult now…

So how do we measure maturity?

The point of this post is to point out that our society gives many mixed messages about adolescent maturity. Science and common sense says that maturity isn’t an arbitrary age. It depends on a wide variety of factors. One person becomes and adult at 16 while another might not become an adult until 25.

But we have an arbitrary line. Legally, and to a lesser extent culturally, a person is an adult at age 18.

The Supreme Court has now affirmed that not all teenage criminals are the same, some can get life sentences for their crimes while others can’t, the courts are now allowed to look at other factors besides physical age to judge their ability to understand their crimes. This is a big step. 

I suppose I’m wondering when we, those who work with students in schools, churches, and our neighborhoods, will begin to do the same?

Categories
Christian Living

Minister by doing

Religious leaders get hung up in theological ideological debates, Jesus did not.

One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and his disciples began to pick some heads of grain, rub them in their hands and eat the kernels. Some of the Pharisees asked, “Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”Jesus answered them, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and taking the consecrated bread, he ate what is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.” Then Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” Luke 6:1-5

Or…

Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.”Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?”But they remained silent.

He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man,“Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.Mark 3:1-6

Or…

At this the Jews there began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”

“Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me. No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” John 6:35-51

The list of examples goes on and on in the Gospels accounts. Once you start to look for it you see it in nearly every story about Jesus. Religious leaders of Jesus’ day approached everything with a lens of theology and ideology. Meanwhile, Jesus went about His Father’s business.

The same is true today. Religious people tend to care far more about “who, what, how, when, and why” than they do about living out their Father’s business. O, that we would be different. That today’s leaders would reject the meaninglessness of theological debate for the sake of theological debate and wrecklessly serve the needs of the people.

Morning prayer

Lord Jesus, allow me to be a man who lives like you. Let me see my ministry through your eyes and not the eyes of a religious person. Keep me from stupid debates about who, what, how, when, and why. Instead, help me to define this day around my Father’s business. Amen.