Joash was seven years old when he began to reign. – 2 Kings 11:21
There is a movement today, similar to other movements through the ages, where the youth are being told that they are going to be the ones to change the world. Often this message comes with the idea, whether overt or with subtle manipulations, that the old is bad, outdated and ignorant. These ideologies and philosophies come from politicians, groups and even churches and see that new is better. This develops an attitude of disdain for those things that have come before and undermines the heritage that could otherwise inform their views and actions.
There is a different perspective put forth in Scripture. From Genesis on there is a reminder to each generation to not forget; to remember God’s goodness, the blessings of obedience and the consequences of disobedience. This gives someone like Joash something to work with and the ability to lead his people to the ways of their ancestors. When leadership is disconnected from heritage and history, it is misleading. When leadership is rooted in who and what has come before with God’s people, it produces a better outcome. For Joash it resulted in this summary of his reign: “Joash did what was right in the eyes of the LORD all the years Jehoiada the priest instructed him.” (2 Kings 12:2)
Joash was a leader because he followed God. Our children will be leaders if they are doing what is “right in the eyes of the Lord.” We cannot wait until they are in the circumstance where they need to lead to teach and prepare. Our children need to learn how to lead before they are required to lead. We need to be providing opportunities for them to be responsible, self-controlled and disciplined. We need to be laying the foundation for leadership before the structure is built.
In 2005 an article came out in TIME magazine about a new trend in American culture – the development of a new group called the Twixters. This article states that “The years from 18 until 25 and even beyond have become a distinct and separate life stage, a strange, transitional never-never land between adolescence and adulthood in which people stall for a few extra years, putting off the iron cage of adult responsibility that constantly threatens to crash down on them. They’re betwixt and between. You could call them twixters.” This is the atmosphere that we are raising our children in and we can do better for them and for the world.
In Paul’s well-known passage “When I became a man….” It should be noted that his manhood came somewhere in the early teens. We need to rebel against a culture that thinks adulthood comes at 26 years of age. We do a disfavor to our children, God and our culture if we continue putting off manhood and womanhood. Our communities would be transformed if teenagers had the same level of maturity that we now expect of a college graduate. Joash wasn’t a twixter, he was a leader and our children can be too, but we need to lead them in to adulthood purposefully and in step with God’s timing, not our culture’s timing.
Lord, help me to teach my children to lead. Help me to guide and direct them into adulthood with purpose and patience. May they be used by You to lead their generation in doing what is right in Your eyes. Amen.