I am currently reading The Death of the Grown-Up by syndicated columnist Diana West. While not written from a Christian perspective, she laments the notable lack of maturity in Western civilization. Children used to move quickly into adulthood but are now lingering in adolescence. The MacArthur Foundation funded a major research project arguing that the current transition to adulthood doesn’t end until age thirty-four. Too many thirty-somethings have opted for sexual exploration without the responsibilities of marriage. They spend hours video gaming but struggle to hold down an uninteresting job.
But Diana West doesn’t point the finger at the millennials. She suggests that we are a culture of “parents who need parents.” Many of our children are struggling to grow up because many of us have not grown up. The 60’s and 70’s were an era of casting off authority, responsibility and sexual restraint. The result is a generation of adults who are unwilling to do the hard things. They are unwilling to embrace adult responsibility. They have remained children in adult bodies.
I am afraid that some of these cultural realities have infiltrated the church. As a matter of fact, for some, spiritual adolescence has extended well beyond the age of thirty-four. The apostle Paul wrote to Titus to give instructions regarding discipleship in the local church. Titus was to teach the older men so that they could in turn could teach the younger men. And he was to teach the older women so that they in turn could teach the younger women.
In the ancient world, you would be considered an older man or an older woman at the age of fifty. I don’t think of myself as an older man. But the reality is that I am quickly approaching that threshold. And I have found myself sobered to think of my responsibility to help this next generation grow in maturity. So I am calling my fellow Christian adults to act like adults. Strive to model a pattern of selfless maturity and service. And embrace the responsibility of helping a younger generation grow to maturity.
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