I recently spent a couple of days with my wider family and it re-occurred to me how my age does have a bearing on how others view me. If I’m with people who are mainly older than me, I tend to be seen as the “kid” with minimal life experience and not too much to talk about other than my education. If I’m with younger people than myself, I suddenly become the wise, responsible guy in charge of keeping them under control.
So are either of these stereotypes true at all? While it’s true that I am capable of some silly things that belie the fact I’m 18 years old, I do feel like I fit the ‘young adult’ type fairly well.
You probably know the verse in 1 Timothy 4:12 which states “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” Sadly a lot of young people in the church feel like the older members have failed them in this way. But I think this is more related to what they are doing in the church. If they are doing things that do warrant respect, like giving inspiring talks during services, then I would say they do deserve to be treated as adults would be. But if they’re not prepared to take the responsibility that comes with being an adult, then they shouldn’t really be complaining about this. We often hear about how sex is biologically defined, but gender is socially defined, and I guess the same applies to age; both inside and outside the Church, there are some young people who show maturity far beyond their years, and some older ones who maybe aren’t so deserving of the ‘adult’ status. Let’s focus more on their attitudes rather than their physical ages.
(Originally written August 23rd 2015)