When I was 25 years old I was the director of a ministry. One day I was driving with our committee chairman who was in his 50’s. He was a mentor and was becoming a father figure to me. We were calling on some donors together and as we drove along the subject switched to some of the decisions we needed to make.
This man turned to me and got serious. He basically said, “You are the Director. You know what to do. It’s your job to tell me what to do and I’ll help make it happen. You understand this work better than me. You are the Director – you’re not a kid – I see you as our director. You decide and we’ll make it happen.”
Now this was incredible are several counts not the least of which is the fact that this guy was a CEO of a major company. But basically what he was saying was you are not a kid, you’re a man – decide.
One of the big problems in our culture, and the growth of singleness is both a cause and a result, is that we keep extending adolescence. The latest studies now say that adolescence starts around 10 or 11 and goes to 26. Really?! 26?! Why not 30? Here’s the deal – we worship youth and we want to live there forever. And youth don’t get married.
This plays out in all sorts of bad ways. Just to name a few: the 18 year old body is the example of beauty (and more and more the male body as well); we are able to go to school for seemingly forever – almost never on our own dime; we switch jobs all the time in our 20’s (gone are the days of earning your way up the ladder); we continue to “go out” and “party” because after all we are only young once. When does young end exactly? Apparently our job is to do everything we can to not end it. I mean who would want to grow up?
While this can be a huge problem in marriage (and I mean huge), and just because you are married doesn’t make you mature (although somehow the church seems to think so within it’s mentoring programs – quick name the last time a single person was a mentor for a married person – more on that later), it is a recurring theme for single people. There are people essentially using their singleness to extend their adolescence. Other than MAYBE having a job, they are basically still living the same lifestyle, dating the same way, making the same decisions, playing the same video games, and thinking at the same level as they were at age 21. That’s not going to work at age 30 – at least it shouldn’t.
Here’s a question – and I mean you really need to think about this – Do you see yourself as a grown up? Seriously what is your answer to that? I’m not trying to be harsh so don’t hear the question that way. Take a deep breath. Hear me quietly and calmly asking you, “Do you see yourself as an adult?”
How you answer that affects everything. Everything.
Still more fantastic stuff. I really appreciate your writting.
Yes, I do, but other people don’t. So where does that leave us? I think your CEO friend is in the minority of being able to respect a single person in their 20’s as an adult. Many other put pressure on us to be dating/married or have kids/steady full-time job for years/a house before we’re an “adult.”
A great point – many people assume if you are single you aren’t “grown up”. And of course getting married doesn’t make you an adult, it just makes you married. There are a lot of singles that don’t act like it though so all we can do is make sure we aren’t one of those.
Ouch. Approaching 4 decades of life experience, I’d certainly like to think I’m grown up but honestly…
In the workforce and in the world at large, I can answer yes. But in my family and my church, I feel we are all waiting for me to reach the maturity of marriage. I wonder if I’ve fallen into the trap of letting others’ expectations form who I am and how I view myself.
Again, good post!
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