KEYWORDS: adults, maturity, experience, teens, time, way

Teen Maturity

Karen Zerby


—By MariaMaria #201 DO 2866

1. IN MOST MATTERS we can put you young adults on an equal status with our older adults. In sexual matters‚ however‚ we have to make a distinction because of your age.

2. There is another thing which distinguishes you young adults from the older adults: While in many cases you may have had as much training in some ministries as the older adults‚ & may even know the Word better than a lot of them do, there's something very important that the older adults possess that can only be gained through time spent as an adult. It's experience‚ or the time spent learning to apply your knowledge wisely in the solving of life's daily problems. This experience results in maturity. Maturity is a little hard to define. The dictionary says it means‚ "A characteristic of full development, either physically or mentally; fully ripe or full grown."

3. You know what someone is like when they are physically mature, or fully developed physically. But what are they like when they're spiritually mature or fully developed spiritually?—This is something which comes through experience‚ & can be acquired in no other way than through the passage of time. It's the combination of taking responsibility for yourself & others, & learning through these situations the best way to conduct yourself & treat others. You learn to be wise & accurate in your judgements of people & situations, to be balanced in your opinions, & slow & steady in your judgements. You learn that there is usually more than meets the eye in most situations.

4. Probably the best & most simple definition of maturity is wisdom.—Wisdom in your general outlook, your attitudes & your interaction with others. You may say, "Well, I can pray for instant wisdom in one of my jobs & the Lord will give it to me." Yes, that's true. But wisdom in your overall behaviour, in your attitudes, in the way you look at life, in the way you see situations & people, this all takes years to acquire & is accumulated little by little as you seek for answers in the Word & learn from the experience & wisdom of those who have gone before you.

5. Maturity is not just an automatic result of carrying adult responsibilities for a given length of time‚ because, as I'm sure you have observed, some older adults still lack in maturity. Most adults are mature in varying degrees, & we are all more mature in some areas than we may be in others. We all have our different strengths & weaknesses, as well as personality traits, & no adult is perfectly mature in every area of their life.

6. Maturity is a combination of things. It is not only the result of training or experience in handling responsibility, but also of knowledge & understanding of the Word, as well as yieldedness & obedience to the Word, prayerfulness & dependence on the Lord, & being led by the Spirit of the law & not bound by the letter of the law. You may have some of these qualities already & be on your way to becoming mature, but maturity is a long process which involves many things & takes much time. I'm sure that this is one of the reasons why the Lord has provided you young adults with the support of older adults who you can work with, whose wisdom can benefit you in situations where you lack it.

7. Years of experience, which can result in maturity, if you learn your lessons well, bring a greater understanding & wisdom about life in general. Experience is not something that you gain just by being trained in a ministry or by reading & knowing what the Word says. It comes from years of interaction with people, years of handling different situations, years of activity through which firsthand knowledge or skill is developed. We usually consider someone to be mature when they have not only experienced all of the above, but have combined that experience with an understanding of God's Word & how He operates & works in human affairs, & are able to rightly divide His Word & apply it to life & its problems in order to come up with workable solutions. Obviously you young people are not as mature or experienced as your parents & overseers.

8. You may wonder, what is the difference between training & experience? According to the dictionary, training is defined as: "Instruction or education in something to make one proficient or qualified in that thing; to undergo a course of instruction." Experience is defined as: "Actual participation in or direct contact with something; knowledge or skill derived from actual participation." The clinical training, which most of you teens have received, also involves a certain amount of experience.

9. So you may already have some degree of experience & maturity which will increase as time goes on. Most adults, by virtue of their time spent carrying heavy responsibilities, will have a much greater degree of maturity‚ or wisdom. Of course, you may still find individual adults who you don't consider very mature, but in general I'm sure you will agree that most Family adults have reached a level of maturity that you teens are still attaining to.

10. There are various degrees & levels of maturity. Although the dictionary's definition of maturity is "fully developed‚" the kind of maturity I'm referring to here is something that you gain as you grow in the Lord. You can't really judge someone's spiritual maturity by the strict definition found in the dictionary. There are many different degrees of maturity.

11. So we can certainly expect you teens to have a degree of maturity by reason of all of the training & experience you've had in the Family. You have a certain degree of maturity, & you can definitely be mature in certain areas, even though you're perhaps not so mature in others. Even some of our JETTs can be spiritually mature in certain ways. The Lord has given some of you JETTs exceptional wisdom & understanding of His Word & spiritual principles, so you too have a certain degree of maturity. But the fact remains that in most cases the degree of maturity you teens & young adults have doesn't really compare with the maturity of most of our older adults, who have had far more experience than you have, & through trial & error have gained a lot of wisdom.

Despite Teens' Lack of Experience,

It's Time to Treat Them like Adults!

12. In light of this, it's far too easy for us adults to say, "That's exactly why we can't treat the teens like adults, because they're just not mature or experienced enough!" I understand that it's a strong temptation to use this as a loophole or justification to not give the teens greater responsibilities. And if you teens put yourselves in the adults' shoes, I'm sure you can appreciate the dilemma they're facing. I believe the solution, adults‚ is to start treating your young people like adults anyway.—But understand that they still need & want a little extra undomineering supervision, they need a little extra counsel & extra explanations. They need the benefit of your experience, of your wisdom.

13. You teens often don't understand the background of things, you don't realise why some things have to move slowly, why they can't be done all at once. In your zeal & enthusiasm, you feel like you could get so much more accomplished‚ & in some areas you may be right. However, because of years of experience, the adults have learned there are many things that take great patience & time to accomplish. And this is part of maturity.—Seeing not just one part of the picture‚ but being able to see the overall situation, seeing how every part affects the whole, & every aspect of a situation is important & must be considered. This is something you can learn‚ but in order to learn it‚ you have to start somewhere. So even though you are not as mature as your elders right now, they need to start treating you as adults, giving you adult responsibility, & helping you to learn as you go.

14. Of course you're going to make mistakes, but your elders will be there to catch you & help you & encourage & support you. We can't just say, "You teens are not mature enough & that's why we have to treat you as children." In order to mature & become responsible, you have to be given responsibility. You have to mature through experience. So you adults must take that step of faith. And knowing that the teens are not mature yet, you must help them along & guide them & support them‚ but not smother them. You've got to give them adult responsibilities & you've got to treat them like adults, except you've got to be there to support them & help them if they have questions or problems.

Distinction between Young Adults & Older Adults

15. So I think we have to make a bit of a distinction about this both for you adults' sake & you teens' sake. Although we are going to consider you officially adults when you reach the age of 18, you are young adults, & because of this, most of you probably aren't as mature as the older adults, & you still have a lot to learn.

16. It might be explained this way: When a JETT reaches 13, he's at the top of his age group, but when he turns 14, he's all of a sudden at the bottom of the Junior Teen group. He's made a step upward, but he's now at the bottom of the Junior Teen group, & all of a sudden he has many new things to learn. That's how it is with you Young Adults.

17. We could just leave you to your own devices & you could make the same mistakes that we did when we were first learning how to run Homes when we joined the Family‚ but we don't have time for that now. We just can't afford to have you make all these same big mistakes that we made when we were first growing up in the Family. As Dad has always said, teachers are supposed to be a help‚ a shortcut to learning, & in this case will help prevent a lot of mistakes.

18. There are many instances in society where young adults are given responsibility, despite the fact that they're lacking in experience. But they're usually given that responsibility while older‚ more experienced people work right alongside of them. For example‚ someone may graduate from a military academy‚ & they may be an officer, but they start off as a "junior officer," until they receive sufficient training & experience under different senior officers. The same is true of a young graduate from medical school; he may be fully trained as a doctor, but he serves as an intern in a hospital, gaining valuable experience, before he's allowed to strike out on his own & start up his own medical practice. The same with lawyers; when they graduate and begin their careers‚ they're usually known as "junior members" in the law firm, working under and gaining experience from the more seasoned senior members, before working their way up to junior partners or even senior partners.

Working Together‚ "Side by Side"!

19. It's completely understandable that you young adults are still going to make some mistakes just in the course of growing up & learning the ropes, & we expect that. You are still going to need help & training & shepherding from our older adults. If you're working together closely with the older adults, any mistakes you make can be quickly corrected & any damage minimised or remedied. This is far better than having everybody just go off on their own, making whatever mistakes they want to. Things have to be much more monitored than that, much more counselled about‚ much more prayed over & agreed upon by you adults & teens alike, because we're now under wartime conditions.

20. You teens will now, God willing, be getting some of the freedom you want, but if you don't follow the rules & the guidelines, & don't do a good job, then you can't complain if you get some stricter supervision for a while. Of course, if & when that happens, you adults will then have to re-evaluate the situation & loosen your grasp as soon as the situation has been remedied or the teen has learned what he needs to learn. Then you can let him take the lead in his responsibilities once again without so much direct supervision from you.

21. Together, adults & teens, you can make a wonderful team for the Lord. The adults have the maturity—the wisdom & the experience—the understanding & patience, & you teens have the freshness & the vision, the inspiration & the enthusiasm, the courage, the energy, the strong spirit to forge ahead unafraid & unstopped by anything in your way. If we appreciate each other's qualities & characteristics & the place that the Lord has given each of us, together we can accomplish the great work that the Lord has in store for us. We need each other, & most of all we need the Lord, so let's operate in love & harmony so we can sincerely & wholeheartedly work together, side by side! Amen? PTL! I love you!


(Written by Gabe, Singin' Sam & others.)

God's greatest gift of love is you, our children,

And we watch you as you all grow up so fast.

First we teach you how to walk,

And we help you learn to talk,

And our love keeps right on growing as time flies past.

Now before our eyes the Lord fulfils His promise;

Through His Love we're growing stronger every day.

And as we all grow up to meet the future,

We'll stand strong against the storms that come our way.


Side by side,

Our hearts reach out together;

Side by side,

We're working as a team.

Growing closer every day,

God's Love shows us the way,

Side by side‚

Together build our dream.

Each generation has its questions,

Sometimes life is hard to understand.

Let's take the time to talk & share,

And show each other that we care.

On our way through life we'll help each other all we can.

God's Love is guiding all of our decisions.

And we need each other more each passing day.

And the closer that we all become to Jesus,

The closer we will grow in every way.