Teenagers hear a lot about respecting their elders, and indeed this is fantastic advice and an example of common courtesy demanded by Bible scriptures (see 1 Peter 5:1-5 NIV). I remember hearing the phrase ďrespect your eldersĒ quite often when I was growing up.
Children, both Christian and non-Christian, are born into a society that has tried to mandate a certain age that people can be responsible enough to do certain things. People are usually considered capable of driving a car around 16 years of age. When a person reaches 18, they are given the right to vote. But are age requirements and the label of adulthood anyway to measure the character and integrity of an individual? I donít believe they are. Iíve known 13 year olds with the self-discipline of a Navy Seal, and Iíve known fifty year olds who couldnít be trusted to babysit a stuffed animal for five minutes.
Now, my opinion is not meant to discourage teenagers from treating people who have more years pass by with any disrespect. My argument is that teenagers should not be discouraged or deterred by adults who refuse to treat them with the same respect they demand. And trust me on this, there are some adults in this world who believe most teenagers canít become disciplined and self-motivated individuals. Having taught karate to teens for almost ten years, I can assure my readers, I am not one of those with a few more years under my belt who lack faith in the abilities of people based on their age.
When any human being begins to understand the power behind suppressing bad behavior and embracing positive and rewarding behavior, there is what can best be described as a reprogramming inside the brain of that individual. And even if that person was to revert back to his previous bad behaviors, the blame can no longer be labeled an act of ignorance. Understanding the importance of self-discipline also makes a person understand the wrongful acts of procrastination, laziness, and irresponsible can lead to unhappiness and self-destruction.
So if you are a responsible teen who is seated at a restaurant and experienced a longer wait for your service than the middle-aged couple that came in ten minutes after your arrival, be patient with the waiter; he obviously does not share your level of character.
If you are a teen who embraces character, yet the car dealership you're at has a salesman who waits on the man in the business suit while you continue shop around without an offer of assistance, be patient; the salesman has mistakenly underestimated the power of treating others as he would like to be treated.
Patience, self-discipline, respect for others, and genuine kindness can make a person an adult at any age. No, a person does not reach a personal plateau of maturity after a certain number of birthdays; and beware of those who claim it so.