I learned the value of money. I learned the importance of hard work. I learned what it meant to be on time for my job.

 

Those don't sound inspiring and I guess they won't every make a top-10 worship song. But this is what young people, Christian young people, need to hear.

Follow Jesus? Yes, that's the first and most important thing. Do God's Will whatever the cost? Absolutely.

What does that look like? It means you'll get up early; you'll shave, shower, and go to work somewhere. That could be as a missionary. It might be as a mechanic. But whatever you do, do it well, do it with integrity, do it to the glory of God.  

Infuse Hope

 

The message of maturity is a message of hope, because God has uniquely designed each soul for a specific purpose (Psalms 139). That purpose is to use your hands and your body to do good works that glorify God (Ephesians 2:10).  

 

How do you find your purpose? You start by getting busy and doing stuff. I had a professor in college who was fond of saying, "It's hard for God to move a parked car. Move the car and let God steer." God works through open doors and opportunities.

We need to help our young people find their strengths and then encourage them to pursue them in any small way they can. Perhaps that means working odd jobs to support a college career. Perhaps that's learning a trade and sticking with it. Perhaps that means volunteer work.  

But its not good enough, its not a wise stewardship of God-given ability and talent to sit around with the vague notion of "following Christ." "It just want to do God's will," sounds terrific and gives us older Christians chills and thrills. But until it is backed up by concrete action—filling out the college application, applying for that job, going on that mission trip—it's all just theoretical. It means nothing.

 

What They Want

I fully realize that many kids don't discover their careers and mature until they are in their twenties. I get that. I look back at my late teens/early twenties and I think of the poor choices I made. There is a maturing process that happens both physically and spiritually and mentally.  

And there are some who are late bloomers. But here's my point. We as the church and parents should encourage rather than discourage maturity and responsibility. Yes, we don't want our children to grow up too fast sexually in a culture that is increasingly pushing the envelope of lust. But that doesn't mean we want them to delay maturity, responsibility, and adulthood. We should begin at the earliest ages to teach our children the value of money, the honor of hard work, the satisfaction of a job well done, and the ethic of service.

Deuteronomy 11:9 is a verse most Christian parents know well. Here God instructed the Jewish parents to use every opportunity to implant His truth into their children. It's a principle we'd do well to employ as Christian parents.

I'm already having these discussions with my daughter Grace. Why does Daddy have to work? Why do we need to save money? Why can't I always have that toy? Why can't we just eat what we want?

Now please don't misunderstand. I'm not advocating parents be tightfisted killjoys. Legalism and lists are huge turnoffs and work to drive kids from God or build a formulaic, man-pleasing faith.

At the same time, it means we should stop making maturity and adulthood seem dull and lifeless. Maybe when we come home from work, we might find ways to praise God for our jobs of complaining about the boss, the long hours, the nasty coworkers.  

And perhaps we should check our own hearts for creeping materialism, laziness, and lack of godly joy. First, because they are signs of spiritual immaturity, but secondly, because they convey to our children that work, life, and being an adult is a death sentence.

 

It's About Choices  

 

If we believe the job of parenting is to do our best to send our children as ambassadors for Christ in a lost world, then it's incumbent on us to prepare them adequately for all facets of life.  

 

It's about implanting in them biblical wisdom for the everyday choices of life. It's about preparing them to make good choices when you're no longer there to hold their hands. It's about encouraging them to act boldly and not fear moving into God's calling upon their lives.  

 

Perhaps our churches could offer a bit more life coaching and discovery of gifts and talents. Every child is a unique package of talents, personality, abilities, and passions.

To help them along, we should be asking questions. What do they do well? What do they enjoy? What are they good at? What opportunities are available in their area of giftedness? And how can we as a family and a church move them along to their God-given calling?