In our series on the upcoming Teen Decade, we have looked at the characteristics and traits of youth leaders who will shape this coming teen generation. We have looked at our personal lives and our public leadership, we have dealt with the way we develop leaders around us and how we manage the organizations we work in. Please take the time to read back through the blogs from the past year in this series. I think there are some things that we have covered that will help to improve our influence and leadership in these coming teen years.
One of the conversations we haven't had yet in this series is the discussion of the traits of the teenagers who make up this age group. In the next few blogs, I want to look at some of the key characteristics of this coming teen culture. There are so many ways to look at them. Society today describes young people with the following statements:
"They love to explore & try new things
"Teens have sudden mood swings"
"Young people don't want their parents to delve into their matters"
"A teen prefers to do things on their own"
"They are obsessed with the opposite sex"
"These kids don't understand the consequences to their actions"
Fair enough. A quick look at these statements is accurate. But, it would not be fair to tag every teen with these statements any more than to say that every adult is a prude. Let me give you four of my observations about this teenage generation the next four weeks. Here is my first trait:
THEY GROW UP TOO FAST
In a recent Wall Street Journal article, columnist William McGurn is talking about popular television, the movies, and the Internet and how each of these encourage children to grow up as quickly as possible while adults remain locked in a desire for adolescence. Most Teens are under unrealistic pressure today to rise to a level of mental and social health at an early age. And that is simply not how they are built.
After reading the article, I kept thinking about how important it is that we guide young people through their early impulsive and exciting living and not force them to skip such formative years in their lives. Involved adults (parents or leaders) can be vital influencers in the development of young people.
There are dangers of expecting young people to postpone adolescence. What about simply allowing young people to be themselves and to see life shape them into who they are to become. Experience is a great teacher. It can incrementally teach a teen to stick to a task or a commitment, to control impulses, to resist peer influence, or to respect parental and adult authority. Childlike behavior is a necessary instructor. And some times the only teacher that a teen will listen to. The old saying warns us that some people have to learn the hard way.
In 2 Timothy 3:16, Paul said that the scriptures are profitable for teaching, correction, and training for righteousness. That spiritual adjustment in the lives of young people cannot be sped up. It is a process. This blog is not about allowing excuse for childish behavior. But, it is a call for those who are spiritual to invest in the greatest resource on planet earth. If we are to fulfill the role of model in the lives of the teen culture, we as parents and leaders must be opportunistic in our relationship with them as we shape them during the most forming era in their lives. Afterall, we are the ones who should display the kind of maturity we expect from them.
Why is it that when we are young we long to grow up but when we are old we long to be young again? Maybe being childlike isn't so bad afterall.