John Quincy Adams is a little known American President. Other than being the son of President John Adams, most of us know nothing about him. It’s a shame, because I think the Adam’s knew the secret to raising a mature son. (I can’t speak to how godly he was as historians tend to have little interest in such matters.) Don’t believe me?
By the age of fourteen, John Quincy Adams was traveling around Europe helping a diplomat convince other countries to recognize the newly formed United States. This was after having graduated from college that January. He was fluent in Dutch, French, Greek and Latin. (Not to mention a passing knowledge of other languages.) After his European jaunt, he entered Harvard and graduated from there by the time he was twenty.
Now one could argue John Quincy was gifted, and perhaps he was. Read through history books though, and you will find mature accomplishments at a young age were more the norm than the exception during the first couple of centuries in our country. Fast forward to today and we make excuses for our teen’s lack of education, motivation and their poor behavior. Underdeveloped pre-frontal cortex, we say. Can’t expect anyone under the age of twenty-five to make a mature decision. And godly behavior? Forget about it. Let them be wild and sin as much as they want. Poor underdeveloped pre-frontal cortex won’t let them obey God. They will settle down once they marry and have kids.
I say nonsense! John and Abigail Adams did with their son what Jesus did with his Apostles. They discipled their son, just like Jesus discipled Peter, John and the rest of them. They worked with John Quincy to make sure he had the necessary knowledge base. They encouraged him to study areas in which he may have been gifted by God. They took him with them as they went about the business of diplomacy. If I remember correctly, John Adams took his family on long (several miles) daily walks. I imagine as they walked, he talked with John Quincy about many important things. When he was ready, John sent John Quincy out to practice what he had been taught in a protected environment with an experienced adult mentor.
Jesus did the same with his Apostles. Many scholars believe some of the Apostles – especially John – may have been in their teens as they ministered with Jesus. Jesus discipled them without excusing their age. He taught them from God’s Word. He explained things to make sure they understood. He modeled the behavior he expected from them. Remember when he sent out seventy-two of them to practice while he was still alive? There were plenty of long walks in the ministry of Jesus and I would imagine much was discussed that didn’t make it into the Bible. Then Jesus sent them out in the world with the Holy Spirit to practice what they had learned.
You can do the same with your children. Want a child with a developed pre-frontal cortex? One who makes mature, godly decisions? We all make mistakes – some from being naive, but I firmly believe the pre-frontal cortexes of our children would develop much quicker if we gave them a regular workout. In my next post, I will give you some tips based on what Jesus did with his Apostles. Try them regularly from a young age with your children. See if you don’t begin to notice your children are more mature – and making more godly decisions.
So what was that top tip I promised? Disciple your children! (I will give tips for how to disciple your child in the next post.)