DO 20628/84—The Crucial Years!—The Age of Decision!
THE AGE OF DECISION!
1. THE EARLY TEENS, 12, 13 & 14 ARE REALLY THE CRISIS AGE FOR TEENAGERS. It seems like if they can make it over that hump, then they'll be okay. They're even recognised by the educational System as the most difficult disciplinary age in school. They can be the wildest, most boisterous & most difficult to control. They become about as big as adults, but in a way they still have child's minds, so they've got that big body with that little mind pulling it around doing silly foolish things!
2. AND YET MY FATHER & SOME PREACHERS USED TO CALL IT THE AGE OF DECISION‚ because it was by that time most children had made their decision to receive the Lord & follow the Lord. It's an age of decision. After that, by actual surveys‚ the proportion of young people receiving the Lord declines. He used to illustrate it on the blackboard with the age of decision beginning at a fairly early age, at least the stats that he had, somewhere around five, six or seven—which is the earliest most church people seem to think their children can accept the Lord. They haven't quite got the faith for age two like we have!
3. THE CURVE OF THE PERCENTAGE OF RECEPTION OF THE LORD CURVED UPWARD FROM THOSE EARLY YEARS & REACHED A PEAK AT 12. The largest number of young people receiving the Lord was at 12 years of age, & then declining after that until when it got in the 60's & 70's it was almost nil! It declines from 12 years of age on down, fewer & fewer receive the Lord as the years go by. Apparently they get harder & harder & less receptive & responsive.
4. SO YOU MIGHT SAY THOSE SUBTEENS & EARLY TEENS ARE REALLY THE HEIGHT OF DECISION when they're making a lot of decisions of which way they're going to go. So they're extremely important years in which they choose the right direction‚ & in the System schools they're considered the very most difficult age for discipline‚ the most rowdy & the most disobedient & naughty & getting into all kinds of trouble. It seems if they get over that hump into the upper grades like senior high school‚ they've sort of made their decision of what they're going to do & what they have in mind to do with their lives, & they sort of settle down & get with it & go to it & really work at it. But in those early teen years they're still almost little children, a little too playful & foolish & haven't really gotten control of themselves yet.
5. DR. FAKIMA, THE FAMOUS CHRISTIAN EDUCATOR I OFTEN QUOTE, SAID THAT THAT'S THE CRUCIAL AGE‚ THE AGE OF DECISION, but if they can make the right decisions at that age, the right direction, from then on it gets easier. At that age they're extremely restless & want to go places & do things & are dissatisfied with home & parents, that's why I've often contended that that's the age the Lord intended for them to marry. He made it possible for them to marry & even have children at that age, & that helps to really settle them down.
6. AS YOU CAN TELL BY MY DIARIES, THOSE WERE REALLY CRUCIAL YEARS. Of course, I don't think my Diaries began before I was 14 when I was beginning to make it & take life seriously & the Lord seriously & His work seriously. I was really idealistic & tried to really do something with my life. I realised I was no longer a child, but that I was becoming a man & I had to make something of myself.
7. SO AT THAT AGE THEY'RE REALLY TRYING TO FIND THEIR PLACE IN LIFE & WHERE THEY FIT. It's an age of great uncertainty—they wonder who they are‚ what they are, what they're going to be, what can they do? They really need a lot of understanding & encouragement, because sometimes they get pretty difficult to live with at that age. They even find it difficult to live with themselves because they are really sort of in a quandary, in a state of flux. They don't really know sometimes what they're going to do or be or who they're supposed to be & it sort of worries them.
8. THAT'S AN AGE WHEN THEY ACTUALLY BEGIN TO SORT OF WORRY ABOUT THE FUTURE. They realise they're growing up & they've got to start thinking about what they're going to do or be. Before that age children very seldom ever worry about the future or life or death or their work or occupation, even education or anything, but by that time the Lord has made them to start getting a little bit serious about those things, & wondering about those things & sometimes it worries them & upsets them or bothers them. They get bothered with everybody else too.
9. THEY CAN SOMETIMES BE VERY IDEALISTIC & AT THE SAME TIME VERY CRITICAL OF PARENTS & ADULTS WHO AREN'T PERFECT. It's a very idealistic time of life when they're looking for the perfect World & the perfect people & the perfect person in their adults & parents. So it also becomes sort of an age of disillusionment, because of course they don't find anybody perfect unless they find the Lord. That's where the Lord comes in, of course, to help them bridge that gap.
10. LITTLE CHILDREN & CHILDREN GROWING UP TO THAT AGE ARE STILL QUITE TRUSTING & BELIEVING & IN A WAY SORT OF LIVE IN AN UNREAL DREAMWORLD. Everything's wonderful & they believe everything & believe everybody & believe the best of everybody & they're pretty well protected & they seldom get disappointed or disillusioned in people. They still think they've got the greatest mother & dad & adults in the World & the greatest life & home—I have in mind of course the usual, normal middle-class Christian Westerners.
11. WHEN YOU THINK OF THE POOR EASTERNERS, THAT'S A LITTLE DIFFERENT! They start taking life seriously & earnestly at a very early age because they actually have to work to help support their family, so the children of the poor World learn early what life is about & how hard it is. The Western children in rich countries, middle class, are not exposed much to the hard realities & heartbreaks & disappointments & disillusionments of life as early as the poorer children, they come up against those things usually in their early teens.
12. THEY HAVE LOVE AFFAIRS & CRUSHES & HEARTBREAKS & they begin to realise their parents aren't perfect & churches aren't perfect & adults aren't perfect & the World isn't perfect, & they even begin to question whether God is perfect! So if they really know the Lord at those crucial turning point ages, those early teens, I believe that is of course their real salvation. Then they understand all those things, they have the answers to their questions.
13. THERE'S NOTHING BETTER THAN THE LORD TO HELP BRIDGE THOSE YEARS TO BRING THEM FROM CHILDHOOD TO ADULTHOOD, as they begin to understand that life isn't always perfect & people aren't always perfect, the World isn't perfect & a lot of their dreams are broken & they're going to have disappointments & disillusionments. That's where the Lord comes in, where He really can help them understand & comfort them & give them answers & reasons & purposes & get them over the hump. So having the Lord & good Christian parents, of course, helps tremendously because then they know that their parents are doing the best they can & are right & doing the right things & they're apt to be more cooperative, more obedient & have more incentive to obey & do right, because they know it's the Lord & it's His way & His Law of Love etc. There's nothing like the Lord to help them make it through.
14. THAT'S WHY I'VE OFTEN SAID IF OUR KIDS CAN MAKE IT OVER THOSE EARLY TEEN YEARS, THEY'LL USUALLY SETTLE DOWN & STICK TO IT & MAKE IT! That's the age when lots of teens go wild & boys get in trouble & girls get in trouble & they form their opinions & ideals & ways of doing things. That's an age when there's a great deal of juveniledelinquency in the World, & of course if they become juvenile delinquents, they often then get into real bad behaviour & crime. The height of the curve & the peak of the climb is, as I recall, something like from 17 to 25 when they have the most crime.—Not always serious crimes, but a lot of crime, because then they get into all kinds of trouble because they have started going the wrong way in those earlier years.
15. I THINK ONE REASON THAT THERE ISN'T SUCH A RECORD OF SO MUCH CRIME IN THE EARLY TEEN YEARS IS BECAUSE THE KIDS OF THAT AGE ARE USUALLY PRETTY WELL PROTECTED BY LAW & they're not often convicted or sent to prison or jails or anything like that, they're just scolded & put on probation & parents reprimanded & that sort of thing so that there isn't a real criminal record before the age of 17. Between 16 & 17 they begin to be held responsible by law for crimes, before that their parents are largely held responsible. So I think that's one reason there isn't much actual recorded crime for the early teens‚ whereas actually there is a lot of it, particularly vandalism & small–time crimes like theft, & as the System would say, crimes like sex & that sort of thing.
16. ACTUALLY, IF THE TRUTH WERE KNOWN, THEY'D FIND A LARGER CURVE AT THAT AGE OF EVEN PETTY CRIME IN THE WORLD BECAUSE OF SUCH UNRULY ROWDY BEHAVIOUR OF THOSE YOUNG TEENS! They get into a lot of vandalism & doing crazy things like turning on false fire alarms & damaging property & of course fights & all sorts of petty crime. And since the law doesn't hold you responsible as adult criminals before the age of 16, then of course in a sense it's not even called crime & therefore it's not recorded as crime. But if the truth were known, there's probably a pretty large volume of petty crime at that age. Nowadays it includes drugs & all that sort of thing.
17. SO WE CAN CERTAINLY BE THANKFUL AS CHRISTIANS THAT WE HAVE GOOD CHRISTIAN TEENAGERS, & PARTICULARLY IN THEIR EARLY TEENS THAT THEY DON'T GET INTO THOSE THINGS. That's why I was so furious at those adult Family Members, responsible Family Members who allowed their children to get into all that crazy vandalism & stuff that they were getting into in that one country. (See No.1512.) I really laid it on the line that either they straighten their teens out or get out of the Family.
18. THERE'S SOMETHING WRONG WITH THE PARENTS IF THEY CAN'T CONTROL THEIR TEENAGERS & haven't trained them any better than that, that they have such bad behaviour. We certainly don't want people like that in the Family‚ neither that kind of teens nor that kind of parents! So I think we threw the fear of God into them & I guess that pretty well shook'm up to where they got their kids straightened out. The parents needed to get straightened out. When there are problem teens‚ it usually means problem parents, they haven't been raising them right.
LET THEM MAKE THEIR OWN DECISIONS!
19. ANYHOW‚ PRAISE THE LORD, THANK GOD FOR THE LORD, HE HELPS THEM THROUGH ALL THESE PROBLEMS & helps the young teens find answers to their problems & pulls them through & gets them over that hump of that early teen age when they're often so misbehaving & rebellious & independent. In a way, it's partly a result of naturally coming to adulthood where they want to be their own bosses & live their own lives. And of course by that time the parents should have trained them well enough that by the time they reach that age of making their own decisions or wanting to make their own decisions, that they'll make the right decisions!
20. DR. FAKIMA USED TO SAY THAT AT THAT EARLY TEEN AGE THEY BECOME LITTLE JUDGES‚ judging everybody & measuring everybody & trying to figure out everybody. They're extremely critical & have very high idealistic standards for everybody & expect everybody to be perfect, & if they're not, they really have no mercy. Everything is either black or white & they can really see a lot of the difference‚ what's wrong with people, & they often just blurt it out. Those early teens are not very tactful or diplomatic, they just tell you off & call a spade a spade! That was the age that I taught in school for three years, so thank the Lord I learned a lot about them.
21. I FOUND THEM REALLY A WONDERFUL AGE, A CHALLENGING AGE! They want leadership, they want direction, they want you to tell them what to do & they want you to catch them if they're bad or wrong, they really want help. They know they need it & they want it. But you've got to really win their confidence & they've got to really know you love them, that you really care & you're really trying to help them. You can't be sort of off-handed & "Well, you go your own way" blah blah, like some parents do. They know they need help at that age. They don't always want to receive it, but they want you to try to give it to them, at least, & often they'll make the right decision after they have made the wrong one. They'll turn around & make the right one with a little love & patience & counsel.
22. BUT AS DR. FAKIMA USED TO SAY, IF YOU HAVEN'T TRAINED THEM RIGHT BY THE TIME THEY'RE YOUNG TEENAGERS, IT'S TOO LATE!—Because by that time they will be making their own decisions. They should already know what is right & wrong & be choosing the right & eschewing the evil. (Isa.7:15) So in a sense it's the fruit of your labours of the earlier years of child-training. Now they're becoming an adult & they're wanting to be more independent & make their own choices & their own decisions & choose their own way‚ & if you have brought the child up in the way that he should go, when he is older then he will not depart therefrom. (Pro.22:6) That is so true!
23. WHEN MY FIRST FOUR BEGAN TO BE TEENAGERS I REALLY COUNSELLED WITH THEM, REASONED WITH THEM, PRAYED WITH THEM & TRIED TO GET THEM TO MAKE THE DECISION. I'd say, "Well, you know what's right & wrong, what do you think you ought to do?" They'd try to finagle us parents into making decisions for them so they wouldn't have to take the blame. They'd try to persuade us to let them do something, over-persuade us, wheedle us & pressure us into letting them do something they knew they shouldn't do, to try to get us to say yes so we'd be guilty & not them!
24. BUT I JUST USED TO TELL THEM, "DON'T ASK ME, YOU KNOW WHAT'S RIGHT & WRONG! WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY? WHAT DOES THE LORD SAY? WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?"—And lots of times they knew they should make the decision but they really didn't want to. They'd rather have somebody else make it for them or sort of force them into it so they could blame somebody else for it & they wouldn't have to take the blame. Actually, I really believe afterward they were glad that we gave them a choice, because they knew it was the right thing to do. They knew what was right & they made the right choices most of the time.
25. DEB WAS THE MAIN PROBLEM because she was so wilful & disobedient & stubborn & had a bad spirit so much of the time, strong-willed like her mother. And her mother really encouraged her in it, in opposition to me in particular, so that really made things go the wrong way. Finally I just gave her over to her mother & said, "I give up! She's your product, you made her the way she is, now you take care of her!—You're to blame!"—And you can see how she turned out. But I think the others turned out pretty good, praise the Lord!
26. SO IF THEY'VE GOT A REAL GOOD STRONG FOUNDATION & they know the Word, know the Lord & know what's right & wrong & they know what they're supposed to do‚ the Lord will really lead them & guide them & help them‚ if they really know how to pray & ask the Lord for His help. And if you give them something to do‚ a really worthwhile cause to work for & fight for, it's an age when they'll really want to do something important & worthwhile & feel like they're really doing something that's worthy!
27. SAD TO SAY‚ MOST REVOLUTIONS ARE FOUGHT BY TEENAGERS‚ JUST YOUNG KIDS—as you can see by the pictures & the movies etc.—& they think nothing of giving their lives for it! They think nothing of dying for a cause or whatever they think is right or whatever they're persuaded is worthy & what they can see through their own eyes is even necessary. They see the injustice & they see the suffering of the poor & it doesn't take much to persuade those poor kids‚ young teenagers, to pick up a gun & fight & shoot their oppressors & the ones that are making them miserable & their families & lives miserable, the ones that are exploiting & tyrannising them! They can get pretty angry & they're old enough to know how to shoot a gun & fight!
28. WHEN YOU LOOK AT MOST OF THOSE GUERRILLAS & TERRORISTS & YOUNG REVOLUTIONARIES‚ THEY'RE NEARLY ALL YOUNG TEENAGE KIDS! And all those riots that you see, they're teenage hooligans, teenage kids. A lot of them just want excitement & want something to do, want something to feel like they're living for. They want to demonstrate, they want to create riots & do things & feel like they're good for something. Often they themselves don't feel very good for anything. I know I had a terrible inferiority complex at those ages. I didn't really feel like I was very much or amounted to much, & sometimes I wondered what I was good for! So if they can find something they feel they're good for & something that's worth fighting & even dying for, they'll do it!
29. REMEMBER THAT TALK THAT HO GAVE BACK IN LONDON ABOUT NEW BOTTLES & HOW MOST REVOLUTIONS ARE FOUGHT BY TEENAGERS? They're the cannon fodder that war is made of! The older men & wicked adults that are unscrupulous & unprincipled are willing to marshal'm & send'm into war to die for their particular causes or faiths or ideologies or whatever. They don't mind letting the teenagers die for them, for their revolutions & their wars.—Not even the parents, think of it! I wrote something on that, how parents are willing to let their sons go out & go through the fire of war & die for them so the parents can keep what they've got! (See No.918.)
LOVE & PATIENCE WORK!
30. SO IT'S A PRETTY SORDID WORLD & A PRETTY HARD & RUGGED ROAD & SOMETIMES IT'S A HEAVY LOAD FOR TEENAGERS, & THE PEOPLE YOU MEET AREN'T ALWAYS KIND—like the old song my teenagers used to like to sing—& that one that dear Aaron used to sing, "I've Got a Lot of Problems!" That's certainly true of teenagers, because that's the age when they're making their decisions & they're deciding on their directions & they're beginning to sort of harden into a mold, into the shape that they're going to be for the rest of their lives.
31. BUT IF YOU CAN MOLD THEM AT THAT AGE WITH LOVE‚ SYMPATHY, UNDERSTANDING, DIRECTION, THE LORD, THE SPIRIT, PRAYER, THE WORD, TEACHING & put them in the right mold in the right direction, then they will grow into the kind of adult they should be & really become good citizens of the Lord's Kingdom—responsible, worthy citizens, good soldiers, good witnesses, serious-minded & willing to live & die for the Lord & souls.
32. SO THANK THE LORD FOR THE LORD, HE CAN SOLVE ALL THE PROBLEMS, INCLUDING THOSE OF TEENAGERS DURING THOSE MOST DIFFICULT YEARS, the early teens, even 12, 13 & 14. Those are the years that I taught in school. Just think, five teachers had quit that class before I came along, they just couldn't handle it!—50 kids in two grades in one room, & some of them a bunch of rowdy little savages! A lot of them had been kicked out of other schools, they wouldn't even take'm, so their parents would come & pay us to take'm!
33. BUT WITH THE LORD'S HELP & THE WORD & LOTS OF LOVE & PATIENCE, I FINALLY WON THEIR HEARTS & THEY REALLY GOT TO RESPECTING ME, LIKING ME, EVEN LOVING ME! But it took a lot of love & patience—I'll tell you, it took a lot of strength too! I really had to put on a show to keep their attention! I guess the Lord was preparing me for this job with those hippies. I really had to go through some antics to hold their attention & keep it, because unless you could really put on a show & you were really dramatic & fiery & could really inspire'm, you couldn't hold their attention very long. They were active & they wanted action & excitement, & that's what I had to give them as a teacher, action & excitement, can you imagine? I guess you can imagine because you've seen me in action!
34. I HAD TO EXCITE'M, I HAD TO SHOW'M ACTION & HOW THE LORD COULD BE EXCITING & HIS WORD COULD BE ACTION!—AND THEY LIKED IT! And they learned to love me, thank the Lord, & we finally got along fine to where some of the worst boys were crying when I left. Of course‚ the girls were pretty easy to win, God bless'm, they were all in love with me‚ & I was in love with them—of course, secretly, I didn't dare let it be known in that church school! It's probably a good thing I didn't know then what I know now or I really would have gotten in trouble! I had to really watch my P's & Q's with the girls.
DAD'S SPANISH LOVE SONG!
35. I REMEMBER ONE TIME I KEPT ONE CUTE LITTLE MEXICAN GIRL IN BECAUSE SHE HAD BEEN NAUGHTY & TALKING TOO MUCH & EVERYTHING, & SHE WAS SO CUTE I SORT OF TEASED HER. I kept her in for lunch & I sang her a little song just to sort of tease her. I thought she'd think it was sort of cute & laugh or something. I was trying to win her heart. Apparently she had extremely strict‚ rigid‚ narrow-minded parents, & whew!—They were down there seeing the Principal the next day saying that I had kept her in for lunch for being naughty & I sang her a love song! They said, "What kind of teachers have you got in this school‚ singing love songs to our young teenage daughter?"
36. I'LL NEVER FORGET THE SONG, I THINK I LEARNED IT WHEN I WAS A TEENAGER. That teacher I had in Monterey, California taught it to us when I was just a teenager in Senior High in Spanish class. That was one of the songs she taught us, the rascal!: "No me matas con pistola, no me matas con punal! Pero me matas con los ojos y los labios de coral!" ("You don't kill me with a pistol, you don't kill me with a knife. But you kill me with your eyes & your lips of coral!")—And instead of acting like she liked it & laughing or blushing or getting embarrassed‚ she looked at me with her eyes wide in absolute horror to think that I, a Christian teacher, could have sung her that song! And apparently she went home immediately & told her parents, & down they came the next day!
37. I HAD TO DO SOME TALL TALKING TO TRY TO EXPLAIN TO THEM THAT SHE'D BEEN A PRETTY NAUGHTY GIRL & I WAS TRYING TO CHEER HER UP! She actually was crying because she was usually a good girl & made good grades & they thought she was an absolutely perfect little angel‚ of course, & never did anything bad. But she was very talkative & always busy talking to somebody & disturbing. So I finally had to just tell her if she did it any more I was going to keep her in for lunch. Of course that also punished me, usually, because I had to stay in for lunch myself then with one or two or three of them instead of having a little peace & quiet alone.
38. I TOLD HER PARENTS, "SHE FELT SO BAD THAT SHE WAS CRYING BECAUSE SHE DIDN'T WANT ME TO LET YOU KNOW SHE'D BEEN NAUGHTY OR HAVE ANY BAD REPORT ON HER REPORT CARD. I was just trying to think of something to cheer her up & I thought it would be sort of funny‚ sort of kidding & joking, I thought it would make her laugh!"—Instead of that she was shocked & horrified! So you've got to be careful how you handle some of these teenagers, some of them have pretty strict, rigid rules that they think adults & parents should stick to.—Especially if they had rather strict parents & narrow-minded churchianity. Thank God ours haven't!
39. THANK GOD THAT'S NOT USUALLY PART OF OUR PROBLEMS, OUR KIDS HAVE A LOT OF FREEDOM & A LOT OF LIBERTY! They know about these things without being horrified. I think they have the right view, an open, frank view of sex & real life. So that's not so much of the problem as parents in the World have, where they have such crazy ideas about sex & such ridiculous prohibitions & inhibitions & restrictions etc. that are not the Lord's. Especially church kids feel terribly limited & restricted. Once they're let out of that cage away from home they often go wild, as I have seen in some cases in Bible Schools & whatnot.
40. SO I DON'T THINK THAT WE IN THE FAMILY HAVE NEAR AS MUCH TROUBLE WITH OUR TEENAGERS AS THE CHURCH PEOPLE DO WITH THEIR KIDS, much less the Worldly people with their kids without any kind of real moral or religious or spiritual training. So thank the Lord for the Lord & the Family that are going to help get us over all these problems & through these tight spots, especially in the rearing of young teenagers. PTL! TYL!
THE HOPE OF THE FUTURE!
41. I THINK I DID PRETTY WELL WITH MINE—except Deb, & she wasn't mine, she was her mother's. I did pretty well with my school kids, & we've done pretty well with our hippies, so I think we've done pretty well with the Lord & His Word & His help! So if you ask me, this is the only way to do it, the only way that's going to really work with anybody, including young teenagers, I think the best way in the World to raise them. PTL!—The only way to raise them, really. That's about it, what more can I say? This is it!
42. AMEN, LORD, HELP OUR PARENTS WITH THEIR TEENAGERS, ALL THEIR CHILDREN, LORD, BUT ESPECIALLY AT THE TURNING-POINT AGE OF DECISION when they're beginning to see the fruits of their labours & the harvest of their crop‚ when they begin to reap what they've sown in the little ones & the children & they begin to see it profit in their teenagers. If they raised them right, Lord‚ we know their teenagers will turn out right too. So Lord, may it be that way & may they not have waited too late. Obviously Deb didn't raise hers right, her older daughter went wild. She wouldn't let her join the Family so she just went wild!—Drugs & all!
43. THANK THE LORD FOR OUR TEENAGERS, THEY'RE REALLY THE HOPE OF THE FUTURE! If we handle their childhood right, then their teenage will come out right & their adulthood will be what the Lord wants it to be for the days ahead. Having reared them in the Lord & the Word & the right way of life, I'm not concerned or worried too much about how they're going to behave in the rough times ahead. I know they're going to come through with flying colours‚ real soldiers for the Lord‚ faithful witnesses, sacrificing to serve the Lord & others till the End!—Live or die, sink or swim! Thank the Lord!
44. AMEN‚ PRAISE THE LORD, HONEY, I LOVE YOU, MY LITTLE TEENAGER! XXXXX! I'm glad I raised you right 'cause now you're a real jewel! I'm proud of you, proud of my product! I can't take all the credit, of course, the Lord gets most of it & your parents even get some of it. (Maria: You & the Lord, Honey!) Mostly the Lord & the Word‚ praise the Lord! You're my ideal teenager, Honey, the perfect teenager‚ & I don't think you're ever going to grow up. I love you!
—We're a REVOLUTION!
—For JESUS!—Amen! TYJ!