KEYWORDS: age, decisions, years, decision, own decisions, lord

Age of Decision, The

David Berg

DO 2429 5/88

1. The teen years are such crucial years! They say that most people make the decision of what they're going to do or be, or make their decision for the Lord during their early teen years, even as early as 12 years of age. Most people in the U.S. who receive the Lord have received Him by the time they're 12 years old. They have made that major decision by the time they're 12, & the statistical curve then begins to decline from there on.

2. My Dad used to have a chalkboard talk called "The Age of Decision", showing the ages that children received the Lord. In those days it began about four or five—we'd begin about two or three—but it goes up very steeply up to 12 years of age, & most of them make their decision at about 12 years of age. The largest number make their decision at that age, then the number begins to decline. It begins to decline at about 13, & declines on down until by the time people reach middle age, very few people receive the Lord, & then it tapers off to where almost nobody receives the Lord by the time they're in their 60's & die at 70 or something like that.

3. The early teens is a real age of decision! That's the age I used to teach in school. It's really a formative age‚ because they are still pliable & you can still mold them. But by the time they get to be older teens they've hardened in the mold & you can seldom change them.

4. It's such a crucial age! 12 years of age is the very height of decision making, & when more kids receive the Lord & decide on what they're going to be & how they're going to live etc. It's so important!

5. Look at Techi‚ she's making major decisions right now at her age (9), because she's just like she's about 12 years of age already. Look at David, he has definitely made major decisions. It's called the age of decision. They make major decisions at that age. That's when most of them receive the Lord & decide on what they're going to do or be, their character. It's such an important age, the teens. If they pull through the teens pretty well, it usually means they've pretty well shaped their life & molded their character, and if it's good, they'll be good; if it's bad they'll probably stay bad. So it's extremely important. To me it was the most challenging age to teach!

6. The sixth graders on down, in other words, the 12-year-olds on down to younger ones were easiest. According to the educational scale in California, the easiest ages to teach were 1st grade to 6th grade because the kids at those ages were usually obedient & they used to say they'd practically eat out of your hands. They love their teachers, they're happy to be in school, most of them‚ and they try hard to please. They were considered the easiest ages to teach. And according to the California teacher's pay scale, you got the lowest pay for teaching those easy years.

7. But the highest pay on the California teacher's pay scale, from grades one to 12, was for 7th & 8th grades, that was the 12, 13 & sometimes 14-year-old bracket.—Above 12, really, because they were usually 12 in the 6th grade. Beginning with the teens, 13 & 14, those were considered the toughest ages of discipline. The kids were now practically grown physically‚ but not yet mentally. They had pretty well matured physically, including sexually, but not yet mentally or spiritually.

8. It was an age at which they were declaring their independence: "Mom & Dad, I don't need you any more, you're usually wrong & everything you do is not according to my standards!" They're extremely self–righteous at that age. They think that everybody else is wrong & they're the only ones that are really right, & they declare their independence, become little judges of everything you do!

9. Doctor Fakkima was supposed to be a real expert psychologist on education of teens, & he wrote some books on it. He was considered an expert & he came around to the different schools lecturing, & he said it's the age of decision, it's the age of independence‚ it's the age of judgement, it's the age at which they are making their judgements of their parents & their teachers & society, the World as a whole, & usually they come to the conclusion that they are better than any of them!—That they know what's best for themselves. He said, "Well, that's the way the Lord made them so they would want to be independent, otherwise they might want to stay home with their parents & just be a baby all their lives!"—And that's what a lot of parents want them to be! They want them to stay home & not declare their independence.

10. But at that age the kids want sex, they even want to get married, they don't mind having children. They want to get away from home & away from their parents & have their own living quarters & their own job, make their own money, everything! So the fact that they stay home at all as teens is almost a miracle!

11. Those are the ages at which there is the most juvenile crime. We read in an article that 90% of the violence in Japanese schools, for example, is committed by junior high students! They're pretty good & obedient & everything up to sixth grade, but 7th‚ 8th & 9th grades, 90% of the violence in the schools there is committed by those grades, junior high‚ 13, 14 & 15!

12. By the time they get to be 16 on up, the upper teens, they begin to get a little sense & they begin to think about what are they going to be & what are they going to do & what kind of a job are they going to get. They begin to get serious about education. They begin to get serious about their studies & realise they've got to get smart if they're going to get a good job & make good money. So by 16, that's senior high age, they begin to get really serious about their schooling & their education & their studies & they begin to knuckle down to work on their education. And if they make it that far, they usually stay in school.

13. The highest drop-out age is junior high. In Japan it's also the highest suicide age. Highest violent age, highest suicide age. They're apt to get the most discouraged at that age, they can't make it in school etc. If they make it to 16 they can usually make it the rest of the way through school & they graduate.—Three more years, 10th, 11th & 12th grades. So if they can make it to senior high, they usually make it all the way through & graduate, although there are a few exceptions.

14. But the highest crime rate, the highest violence rate, the highest drop-out rate‚ the highest suicide rate is the junior high years! That's why they're so important. It's so important that we keep our teens & help them make it through those years, 13, 14 & 15. Because usually if they can make it through those years, they'll make it all the way!

15. Those are the years of decision, the years of independence, the years of choice‚ the years of the real molding of their character. It's still malleable in those years but it hardens in the mold to where it's pretty well hardened to what it's going to be by the time they're 16. So if we can get them to make it through those years, they usually have got it made.


16. I'll never forget what Doctor Fakkima said! He sure came along at the right time when I was teaching those junior high kids. He said, "That's the age of decision, that's the age when you're really molding their character, it's the age when they have the body of an adult & the mind of a child. So it's the age when they can make the worst mistakes, & when they're the most self-righteous judges of their elders." They consider everybody's wrong but them, they're the only ones really right, they really know what's right, & they set themselves up as a little judge on a throne over everybody else‚ including their parents. They judge their parents & their parents are no good because they're not perfect.

17. At that age they usually have the very highest standards for everybody else, & they think their parents ought to be perfect, & if they're not absolutely perfect‚ & their teachers aren't absolutely perfect, then everybody's either completely black or completely white! Nobody's grey, there's no such thing as in–between. Either you're absolutely perfect & you're absolutely right about everything, or their elders are absolutely wrong & bad & totally wrong! It's an age when they really judge everybody harshly but themselves. They can do almost anything & get away with almost anything because they think that they ought to be independent & they know what's right & they know what they want & what they like & don't like & that's it, & nobody can tell them anything else!

18. You take Techi now, she's really at about that age. It doesn't matter what you say, it doesn't matter how much you argue, when she has come to a decision herself, you can't convince her. You can talk to her & you can try to persuade her & you can show her both sides, & then all you can do is leave her in the hands of the Lord & let her make her own decisions. And if you try to force her‚ oh, that's the worst! If you try to force her to do what you want her to do just by force, oh, then she really gets stubborn & really gets rebellious & really gets hard to handle. The best thing you can do is present your case & leave her in the hands of the Lord.

19. Doctor Fakkima used to say they are the judges then. They judge you & everybody else, really, but themselves. They think they're an exception, they're all right. But he said, they have to make the decision. You cannot force them or push them or they'll just rebel, even if they think you're right. They don't want to do what you tell them to do because they think they should decide to do it!—It's true!

20. He spoke to one lady that came to him asking for help for her teenage daughter, that oh, she was just a mess & she was terrible to handle, what should she do with her daughter? He said, "How old is she, Sister?" She said, "She's 15." He said, "It's too late‚ there's nothing you can do!—You'll just have to let her make her own decisions & shift for herself!"

"TRAIN UP A CHILD..."—Pro.22:6.

21. (Maria: The only thing that seems to get through to our kids when they're rebellious like that is the Word & prayer. That's about the only thing. They know it's an absolute because they have faith in it & they believe it.)—Right! Only the Lord‚ just the Lord. By that time you can't handle them, only the Lord & His Word can handle them. Like he told that lady, "It's too late, 15 is too late!"

22. He said, "If you have raised them right like the Bible says, `Train up a child in the way he should go'—a child—`& when he's old'—& he's old by the time he gets in his upper teens—`he'll not depart therefrom.'—Pro.22:6. He might depart for a little while‚ but he'll soon recognise that he's on the wrong track & come back!"

23.Like that son of Rader that I told you about‚ one of Rader's teenage sons that got angry with his father because his father jerked this big cigar out of his mouth. He'd been out working on his own for awhile so he thought he could do as he pleased at his father's house. But he was still in his father's house, & his father demanded absolute obedience.

24. His first night home he was acting smart, he was a big man now, he was grown up. He pushed his chair back from the table & took out this big cigar & lit up, & old Dad Rader said, "Put that thing out, Son!" "What do you mean, Dad? I'm a grown man now, I have my own job, make my own money & I smoke my own cigars!" He said, "You may anywhere else you want to‚ but you don't here in my house!" "Oh Dad‚ you're just an old fogey, you're a blah blah blah!" And he was blah blah blahing at his Dad, & his Dad just walked over & grabbed the cigar out of his mouth, went to the door & threw it out in the yard!

25. I've forgotten which one of the Rader boys it was. There was Lyle Rader, Luke Rader, Paul Rader & there was another one, & they all became famous preachers, especially Paul Rader. So apparently their old farmer Dad's training really did the work! So this boy, I think it was Lyle, I think I heard him tell the story, he got mad, went & packed his suitcase & stomped out of the house. He said‚ "Dad, you're just an old fogey, I can't live here with you!" But in a few weeks he came back for another visit & said he was sorry. He said‚ "Dad, I found out you're not so bad after all, may I come for a visit?" And his Dad, of course, forgave him & let him come in. But his Dad warned him, "No smoking in my house!"

26. So it's an age of decision, it's an age of wanting to be independent, it's an age of judgements! Dr. Fakkima said every teenager that age, the early teens, sits on a little throne & considers he is the right judge of the World, & he judges you & his parents, his teachers, the authorities, the whole World, & considers that his decisions are the right ones, & he doesn't have to listen to anybody! He is the judge!

27. So about all you can do with that age is to train them right to begin with, & with my children, when the first four got to be that age, our tactic with them was almost always to let them make their own decisions. They'd say, "Dad‚ can I do this‚ should I do this, what shall I do about this, may I do so-&-so?" I'd just say, "Well, Son, you're old enough, you know what's right & wrong, you know what we've taught you, it's time for you to make your own decisions. You know what's right, what do you think you should do?" And that almost always convicted them right away, because they knew what they were supposed to do, they knew what the choice should be. They were just trying to persuade us to let them do something they knew they shouldn't do so they could blame us for it!

28. But when we put the responsibility squarely on their heads, on their shoulders‚ & showed them that they're the ones that had to make the decision, that they were the ones responsible, they were old enough now to know what's right & wrong & to choose their way, then they really got serious about it, because they knew then they couldn't blame anybody else for it. They themselves would be to blame. And I don't ever remember them making the wrong choice except Deborah‚ and she was always encouraged in it by her Mother. Always encouraged to defy her Father & to go her Mother's way, who usually made the wrong choice also. So you can see how she turned out!


29. So if you've reared'm in the nurture & admonition of the Lord... I was thinking about that Scripture the other day.—Eph.6:4. Nurture means feeding, nourishing, feeding'm on the Word. And admonition, what is that?—Warnings, you've given them good discipline, you told them what is right & what's wrong & you've disciplined them, you have admonished them, you've warned them of not doing wrong‚ and that if they do wrong they're going to suffer the consequences, the punishment.

30. If you have done that up to that age when they would still receive it—usually they're not as mature as our kids, our kids get mature early—but if up through age 12 or to age 12 you have given the right training‚ the right nourishment, the right nurture & the right discipline, the right admonition‚ then they have to make their own decisions from then on‚ but they will usually make the right ones & do the right thing, "and when he is old (upper teens) he will not depart therefrom".

31. So if you have reared them right & in the Lord & His Word, usually when they reach even that difficult age, they'll turn out right. They may fly off the handle, get independent & make some mistakes because they want to make all their own decisions, they may be rebellious and sometimes disobedient, but Doctor Fakkima used to say to encourage them then to make their own decisions & tell'm, "Well, you know what's right, what do you think you should do?" You must encourage them to make their own decisions & let them make their own decisions, even if sometimes they're wrong, because he said at that age they have to make their own decisions in order to stick to it. It's the age of decision. PTL!

32. So if we can get them through those junior high years—12, 13, 14, 15, it varies according to their scholastic ability, the age they started school etc.‚ it's usually about 12 or 13—then they can make it. But you have to let them more or less make it on their own & their own decisions. By that time, if you've trained them right‚ you must let them make their own decisions then. Even though you know what's right, you know what you want them to do, don't force them to do what you want them to do in most cases, but there's a limit.

33. Try your best to get them to make their own decisions, because only then will they stick to it. If they make their own decisions then they will do it, but if you force them to do what you want them to do against their will, even if they know it's the right thing, they'll be very hard to handle. Because they want to make their own decisions. They feel they're old enough to make it, & they are old enough to make it.

34. Dr. Fakkima said that's the trouble with too many parents, they don't think their child is capable of making their own decisions at that age, and of course if they haven't raised them right, they aren't capable. But that's the parents' fault‚ not the child's. But if you have raised them right‚ or reared them as you should, in the nurture & admonition of the Lord, then they are trustworthy of making their own decisions at that age. It may not always be the right decision, but they'll usually make the right one. And when they do make their own decisions, then they stick to it. You don't have to force them & make them stubborn & rebellious by trying to insist & force them to abide by your decisions, if you'll try to let them make their own decisions.

35. That's what we do with Techi & David. We usually say, "Well, what do you think you ought to do? What do you think is right?" And when I did that, insisted on that with Techi yesterday or the night before last, then she just nearly fell apart, she cried & everything else, because she didn't want to have to really take the responsibility of making her own decision because she didn't really know what she ought to do. (Maria: Because she said, "I have six choices, Mommy! Then she told me all the choices.)

36. My Mother used to say, "Decisions, decisions, life is nothing but decisions!"—And that's true! I think that would be a good title for this talk, "The Age of Decision!" That's what we're here for, to make decisions! For the first 10 or 11 years nearly all your decisions are made for you & you're in your training years‚ your nurture & admonition years, your childhood years, but after that, from then on for the rest of your life you usually have to make your own decisions.


37. Teenagers must be allowed to make their own decisions or they will be very rebellious & very angry that you force them to do something they don't want to do. Dr. Fakkima said it's better for them even to make the wrong decision & then find out that they made a mistake & learn a lesson from it than to force them to do what you know is right, & then they just get real stubborn & rebellious & even run away & all kinds of things.

38. He said it's better for them to learn the lesson, go ahead & make the wrong decision—providing it's not something serious like maybe marrying the wrong person or killing somebody or something! But they need to make their own decisions and they need to make them, even if they make wrong ones, so they'll find out they were wrong & learn their lesson‚ like Lyle Rader. He got mad‚ packed his suitcase & stomped out of the house. But he came back a few weeks later & said, "Dad, you're okay, you're right‚ I was wrong."

39. It's better at that age to learn by their own choices if they don't already know what's right & wrong, & if they made the wrong choices, to learn the lessons from them. But you must let them pretty much make their own decisions, with a little counsel, a little advice, a little word & consultation, admonition, to give them the Word & what you feel is right & wrong. "Well, Son, you know what's right" or "Daughter‚ you know what's wrong, you're old enough to make your own decision, you know what's right & wrong, you make it! If you're wrong, you'll learn; if you're right, we've taught you right‚ then you'll learn also that that was the right decision to make."


40. So the early teens is the age of decision & the most difficult age of teenagers, but it's the most challenging age & it's the most explosive age! I saw it in my classroom when I was teaching school, what potential they had! It was like they were beginning to explode into their real potentials! The real brains were just terrific, geniuses! The real drivers, shakers, movers, like this one older teen I had there, oh boy oh boy, what a leader! I mean, he was so smart, yet he wouldn't study! He was so smart, yet he wouldn't behave. He'd been spoiled. He came from a very rich family, a wealthy mother‚ he just had a mother.

41. But I really clamped down on him, I really told him what was right & wrong & gave him the word & he got better & better! I had him for two years, & he got better & better. The last thing I remember was when I was leaving, he came & brought me a gift all wrapped up, & with tears in his eyes he said he sure was sorry to see me go. (Maria: You were probably the only father he had.) Yes, he had a mother that just absolutely spoiled him rotten. They were rich, they had everything‚ he wore fancy clothes, & he was always leading the others astray.

42. He was just a born leader, & most of the others seemed to be followers. And of course he was usually doing the wrong thing or making the racket or leading them astray, so I really had to clamp down on him, because he was the bellwether, the ringleader. And I kept him in more times than anybody else in my whole class, but that gave me more time to talk to him. Of course, I lost my time off, I didn't get my recess or my lunch period, I had to spend it talking to him‚ but it really paid off.

43. I spent more time talking to him than anybody in that whole class, about the Lord, about the Scriptures, really teaching him spiritually‚ & he wound up in the end being a good boy, a good leader. He'd make the others behave. He became like my monitor & insisted that they behave, "Shut up! Listen to..."—they used to call me Burgermeister! There was a popular beer commercial with a jingle about a Burgermeister. And so every time they came pouring into the classroom they were singing‚ "Burgermeister‚ Burgermeister, you've got the best beer!"

44. To me it was a kind of a compliment! In a way, some teachers would have thought it was disrespectful. In fact, Mr. Wheeler, the principal, said, "How come you let them sing that song about you like that? That's disrespectful, that beer song, calling you `Burgermeister'!" I said, "Oh, it's just them, they love me & they're sort of making fun & at the same time they like it!" You've got to take them where they're at & not expect too much! PTL!