Youth in the New World Society
“I give you good counsel, turn not from my teaching. . . . attend to what I say, bend your ear to my words; never lose sight of them, but fix them in your mind; to those who find them, they are life.”—Prov. 4:2, 20-22, Mo.
1. What determines the good qualities of youth in the New World society?
TODAY’S youth is tomorrow’s manhood. Therefore the quality and maturity of the manhood of tomorrow are dependent upon education and training that are given youth today. One of youth’s training centers should be the home, with Christian parents as the teachers. Mature teachers in the Christian home will use as the leading textbook God’s Word the Bible, and such background will furnish the proper background for youth today in preparation for a proper place in the New World society.
2. What factors are involved in teaching and rearing children?
2 Teaching and training in the world generally are as varied as the teachers and their traditions and philosophies. As a result, what a variety of mental food is presented for consumption, particularly for the younger generation! “We are what we eat,” some authorities theorize. Our minds become what we feed them. Since the mind directs or influences the person, immediately we sense how important is a proper mental diet. The mind is fed by the educational systems, in the home and in the Christian congregation directly by hearing the spoken word. There is also the indirect way, vitally important, and that is by example, because even the ten-year-old patterns himself so much after parents, teachers and other influences to which he may be subjected or exposed. To follow the proper pattern is illustrated by the Master Teacher’s saying: “I set the pattern for you, that, just as I did to you, you should do also.” However, in contrast with this many pattern themselves according to events of the past or the conduct of more than just an individual, perhaps after a group; or possibly after an educational system with any of a variety of special philosophies, or after the national or local political pattern, or even the policies of commercial organizations their associates are affiliated with or are influenced by. So that improper patterns might be shunned, it is written: “Now these things went on befalling them as examples and they were written for a warning to us upon whom the accomplished ends of the systems of things have arrived.”—John 13:15; 1 Cor. 10:11; 1 Tim. 6:20, 21, NW.
3. What governs physical growth? Why is spiritual food more important?
3 Man was endowed with the ability to procreate his own kind. It was purposed that in the process of development within a certain number of years the offspring would develop physically, this requiring about twenty years. This majority is reached if normal good food is supplied. Of course, a stronger body is developed if exercised or trained by hard work. But such success in itself develops only up to a certain point and is spoken of only in an incidental way by the apostle Paul when he stated: “Bodily training is beneficial for a little.” Since such has little bearing, the more important sustenance, mental food, and its value and effect should be considered for youth in the New World society. This is especially so in view of Paul’s stronger words to young Timothy: “Godly devotion is beneficial for all things, as it holds promise of the life now and that which is to come.”—1 Tim. 4:8, NW.
4. Why is it important to start training children at a very tender age? And why can they not be permitted to make their own decisions?
4 The first training that a child receives during its first ten years, in most cases, is from its parents or its immediate guardians. The child is given a number of do’s and don’t’s at first, and is gradually made familiar with elementary terms that affect it. Often this training is treated lightly, parents sometimes thinking that a child is too young. Whether parents admit it or not, the very young mind can take in much information, and it is during this period that many lasting traits are established. Frequently the child is shrewd enough even to train parents to wait upon it and to have its own way. This is not the Christian way, however, as parents are told: “Train up a child in the way he should go.” The child is imperfect and sinful (not innocent and sinless as some of the clergy would lead many to believe) and needs its steps directed to a righteous course. The child’s own choice often would lead it in an erroneous and selfish way. Jeremiah of old aptly confessed: “I know, O [Jehovah], that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.” How true that is especially of man as a child!—Prov. 22:6; Jer. 10:23, RS.
5. (a) Why is real discipline so imperative? (b) By example show what happens when parents are lax in the enforcement of their commands.
5 As an illustration of child rule in the home, this occurred in a Christian home. The child pleaded and raised a fuss about a certain type of food it wanted and did this in a demanding way. The mother yielded and prepared the food. When the food was set before the child he decided he did not want it after all. The mother coaxed, but when the child feigned illness the mother took the food away. Under his breath the child was heard to say: “Well, I really got out of that one!” In this instance there was no discipline and the child was developing the trait of selfishness and was becoming self-centered. Parents may not always realize it, but children test them too. An instance to show this occurred when a four-year-old boy, when his food was set before him, threw it on the floor when the mother stepped out of the room. A mild scolding resulted, whereupon the mother placed more food before him. This was treated similarly in the absence of the mother. It was explained to him that some day he would be grown and would have children of his own, and, when asked what he would do if his child threw his food on the floor, he unhesitatingly responded: “I would whip him.” He knew what was right and that proper corrective measures should have been administered. From an educational viewpoint he must have been somewhat disappointed in his parents. Children in similar circumstances could not look to their parents as a proper example of rearing children. Training is not just a matter of presenting information for the mind, but it is also a matter of living up to it. “Mere words will never train a slave; he understands, but he will not obey.” “He who pampers his servant from childhood will in the end gain nothing but ingratitude.” It is not that children do not know better; often they know what is right and proper, but they will not always perform this unless disciplined. To support further the thought that the obeying of a command is not left to a child’s discretion, it is of interest to notice what Jehovah stated concerning Abraham: “For I have become acquainted with him in order that he may command his sons and his household after him so that they shall keep Jehovah’s way to do righteousness.” There was never any thought that the child would decide the matter, but the parent made decisions for the child.—Prov. 29:18, 19, Mo; Pr 29:21, AT; Gen. 18:19, NW.
6. Why is much time required on the part of parents to train children properly?
6 Noting that it was so vitally important 3800 years ago that the parents instruct children, we can see how much more so it is true in the twentieth century when parental oversight is lax and delinquency rampant. Truly, then, Christian parents should spend time teaching and molding the young minds with proper knowledge and then administering proper discipline, if necessary, that will help them to carry out what they have learned. Learning to do what they have been told, and properly doing it and continuing to do it—this will be easier as the building, so to speak, takes shape. Not only that, it will strengthen the mind of the child to discern between right and wrong and so fortify the mind against false doctrine and contamination of erroneous secular training in the schools and other contacts. It is also well to have ingrained in the child’s mind the counsel given by Paul when he stated: “Do not be misled. Bad associations spoil useful habits.”—1 Cor. 15:33, NW.
7. How may parents be helpful to the children when they go to school?
7 Some parents feel that with all the delinquency and corruption in the public school system, it might be better not to send their children to the public schools. However, when a child continually receives right parental and theocratic training during the formative years by regular meeting attendance and sharing in the ministry school and door-to-door witnessing, he will be able to ‘withstand the fiery missiles of the Devil’ in school or anywhere else. While in school he can shun the extracurricular activities that are so detrimental to him. This is particularly true when we observe that contemporaries in school often resort to unfair tactics in games and use foul and scurrilous language in their associations with others. Close contact with such ones would be a temptation to follow a like course and adopt similar practices. We are admonished by Paul: “Let a rotten saying not proceed out of your mouth, but whatever saying is good for building up as the need may be, that it may impart what is favorable to the hearers. Let all malicious bitterness and anger and wrath and screaming and abusive speech be taken away from you along with all injuriousness.”—Eph. 4:29, 31, NW.
8, 9. Why is strong faith essential to the young minister while in school? What will enhance it?
8 The youthful mind can be strong and can demonstrate this by resisting the false attractions of the world whether in school or out of school. We have observed how many youthful ministers have undergone persecution without ever a thought of wavering. Many are of the same mental attitude as was Timothy, of whom Paul wrote: “I recollect the faith which is in you without any hypocrisy, and which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, but which I am confident is also in you.” Timothy’s later course of preaching and steadfastness in the ministry certainly confirms Paul’s opinion in this regard. We can also notice that the genuine strength of faith was conditioned by the good foundation of Timothy’s early instruction. Similar Christian education now is the responsibility of the parents and then the same strong manifestation of faith may be expected from the children. When the foundation therefor is well laid, the mental attitude of the child will, of his own choice, be aimed at and directed on what has been foremost in the mind of the parents. If this has been the full-time ministry, he will likewise direct and select his educational courses while in school so that the quality of his ministry will be enhanced.—2 Tim. 1:5, NW.
9 Selection of trades that lend themselves to part-time work in order to maintain oneself as Paul did in the full-time ministry will be kept in mind. With such a well-planned beginning a child need not be like the unstable and skeptical youth of the world with his unhappy and unsteady future, wondering where he can put his trust. He will be of the same frame of mind as was the psalmist: “Happy are they who live uprightly, living by the Eternal’s law!” For those who live by Jehovah’s law, showing respect for it, there will be no fear and uncertainty. The youthful minister can have joy and peace, as shown in the sixth verse of the same psalm: “No shame befalls me when I heed thy commands.” And, “I will obey thee: never do thou forsake me.” Herein lies a petition on the part of the one that receives instruction that he may obey even more. In further admonition the psalmist continues: “How can a young man keep life clean?” Truly such a question is in the mind of those upright ones who desire to keep themselves separate from the corruption and delinquency of this world. The answer is given: “By keeping to thy word. I store thy word within my heart, to keep myself from sinning against thee.” If the teaching principles outlined in schools were in conformity and harmony with this, children would be of the same frame of mind toward what is right and toward school rules. Today, however, many children, and youths generally, have little respect for school authorities because there is no enforcement of rules and there is lack of high principles.—Acts 18:3, 4, NW; Ps. 119:1, 6, 8, 9, 11, Mo.
10. What happens in schools when there is no discipline? Why?
10 But what happens to a teen-age boy or girl when adherence to God’s laws is not stressed as a part of early training? Look about and see! There are saddened parents, perplexed educators and civil authorities whose rod of discipline is held back by false ideas, allowing for increasing delinquency and juvenile crime of every sort. Because God’s Word is not the sole authority and guide for training, responsible authorities are divided on the manner of what discipline to use, with many psychologists going so far as to state that to discipline a child is to show hatred for it. The results of these divided opinions our newspaper headlines summarize every day, recording the deeds of modern undisciplined children. But God’s Word plainly says: “The rod of correction gives wisdom; but a child who is left to himself brings disgrace on his mother.” “Chastise your son, while there is still hope of him, and do not let him run to ruin.”—Prov. 29:15, AT; Pr 19:18, Mo.
11. What will result when idleness is permitted?
11 A haphazard and slipshod manner of educating children results in their having an improperly trained mind, a mind that tends toward idleness. Parents are responsible for this when they fail to guide their children aright and keep them busy. Solomon wrote: “When hands are slack, the roof will leak,” showing that slothfulness in thinking and in action leads to a condition of ruin, contrary to God’s admonition that we consider the busy ant as a proper pattern. Busy children do not get into mischief. Every school child’s notebook may well have copied in full on its first page the Bible verses about the busy ant.—Eccl. 10:18; Prov. 6:6-8, Mo.
12, 13. (a) What has contributed to delinquency in the schools today? (b) How does folly manifest itself?
12 Let us now look further at undisciplined youth. Often, today, fourteen-year-old boys are held in high esteem by other teen-age hoodlums when the roughest, toughest one of them all is able to reign over them in their gang, imitating grownup mobsters, as the boys (and sometimes girls among them) mimic the older hoodlums as they step out in the night to rob, rape, murder and terrorize. They resort to and become slaves of dope to the extent of being unable to see even a glimmer of hope for a better life. What a picture of gloom! Instead of being trained for righteousness, such youngsters become trained for sin. All this can be traced back to the comic-book fad in kindergarten days, to the radio, TV and movie crime-thrillers that consume nearly every school-free waking moment of such delinquents. After thus learning about the many kinds of crime they brazenly step out into a sin-laden world to practice what has been ‘preached’ to them.
13 Truly it can be seen that “foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child,” thus indicating to us that folly is a natural tendency of youth and, when not removed by the parents or responsible ones, such folly increases and the results are that “even a child is known by what he does.”—Prov. 22:15, AS; Pr 20:11, Mo.
PROPER CHRISTIAN TRAINING
14. (a) What will be the attitude and conduct of the Christian-trained youth? (b) Is Jehovah cognizant of young children? How does he use them?
14 Contrast this with a Christian-trained young man or woman who has a pure outlook and a solid hope instilled by the sure Word of God. The result of such is righteousness, peace, health and, above all, the sensible desire to serve the righteous God, Jehovah. It is pleasing to Jehovah that young men and women volunteer their lives in service to him, free from crime and sin and all the unrighteous deeds practiced by the youth of the world, having in mind living only clean and upright lives to his praise. In Jesus’ day when some foolishly tried to prevent such righteousness-loving children from coming to him he rebuked those who would prevent them, saying: “Let the young children come to me, do not try to stop them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such kind of persons. Truly I say to you, Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a young child will by no means enter into it.” He “took the children into his arms and began blessing them, laying his hands upon them.” This provided for them an opportunity for genuine happiness. They were free to come to Jesus and he unhesitatingly invited them to do so. He said concerning them: “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings you have furnished praise.”—Mark 10:14-16; Matt. 21:16, NW.
15. Under what conditions and at what age are dedication and baptism proper for a child?
15 His invitation to them to sing Jehovah’s praises meant too that it was proper for them to make a dedication to do Jehovah’s will. Faithful children today want to serve Jehovah lovingly and loyally and to follow in the same way that their devoted parents are going. Some may ask, then, Would it be proper for me in my early teens to make such a dedication vow and symbolize this by water immersion? Since many children are baptized each year at circuit assemblies and other conventions of Jehovah’s people, can it be said that this is the proper course for these young ministers to take? Of course, if they do not know in their own mind what they are doing, then they are not ready to take this vital and important step. The definite age as to when baptism or dedication is appropriate cannot be designated. If a child has sufficient knowledge of Almighty God, Jehovah, and his righteous purposes and adheres faithfully to the upright principles set down in his Word, if the child has reached the age of accountability and desires to make a dedication to Jehovah, it is in order for him to do so and it is then proper to take the step of baptism by water. Taking this essential and direct step toward life, the young minister will not be found in the position of the unrighteous. Dedication is an essential step and necessary to gain the approval of Jehovah God. Take note of the wise counsel of Solomon in this respect: “Remember also thy Creator in the days of thy youth, before the evil days come. . . . Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every work into judgment, with every hidden thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”—Eccl. 12:1, 13, 14, AS.
16. What responsibility falls on the shoulders of youth?
16 So, then, as parents, let us take heed to God’s Word. As children, take heed willingly, gladly to obey! Even before you are twenty-one, try always to show good sense and strength and keep your guard up. You boys of seventeen and eighteen, remember that you are now entering manhood; you must make right decisions. You are becoming tomorrow’s men and each of you can be ready as a man today.