Wednesday, June 1, 2011

It's Time For Mr. Jones

There is a thing that is bothering me. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but many young people aren’t taking on the responsibility of adulthood. I’m taking it out of context to use it this way, but I am reminded of I Corinthians 13:11, “Whan I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” A preacher friend, Bro. Fox, once quoted that verse to me. He and his wife were like a third set of grandparents to us and I learned a great deal about leadership and Christian service from him.

I look around and I see young men—and perhaps the young women are worse than the young men—who have failed to mature, as they ought. They reach the age of eighteen, head off to college and instead of taking on the responsibility like they should, it is just like high school without parental supervision. I heard a man that I would guess is in his forties say, “Don’t call me Mr. Smith; that’s my father.” Literary agent Rachelle Gardner once wrote on her blog that she doesn’t like being addressed as Mrs. Gardner because that’s her mother-in-law. But my main concern are those young men between the ages of sixteen and twenty-five who are in our churches. These are the future leaders of our churches. These are our future pastors and deacons. These are our future Sunday school teachers. But where are they? They aren’t children anymore. It is time for them to put away childish things. We shouldn’t have to beg them to serve the Lord. We shouldn’t have to persuade them that they should be doing something at church other than hanging out with their friends. They should be coming to us and saying, “I’m ready! Put me to work.”

Young men between the ages of sixteen and twenty-five, your time is now. It is time for you to take responsibility. It is time for you to teach. It is time for you to preach. It is time for you to share the gospel. It is time for you to lead a Bible study for your age group. It is time for you to help support the church financially. It is time for you to visit the hospitalized and homebound. It is time for you to find the Lord’s will for your life and to pursue his will with your whole being.

For the rest of us, I offer a challenge. The young people aren’t completely at fault. If people in their forties aren’t willing to take adult responsibility, how can teenagers and young adults see the need to take responsibility? Unless we let those younger than us know that the failure to take responsibility is unacceptable, few ever will. So my challenge is this: the next time you see a teenager or young adult, call him Mr. Smith (or Mr. Jones or whatever his name is). If he is your Christian brother, call him Bro. Smith. While this doesn’t seem like much, this simple show of respect is a reminder to both him and you that he isn’t a child anymore. It affirms that you believe he has reached the point where it is time for him to take on the responsibilities his father and his grandfather before him took on.

Will you accept the challenge?