What Does Youth Want out of Life?
“Flee from the desires incidental to youth, but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace.”—2 Tim. 2:22.
1-3. (a) What, basically, do youths say that they want out of life? (b) What is the finest purpose one can have, and how does the Bible show this? (c) Why is it not wrong to want to be happy?
YOUNG people, what DO you want out of life? Many youths were recently asked this question. And from examining their answers, we feel that we know how you would probably answer this question.
2 In a few words, youths say that they want happiness and enjoyment. One eighteen-year-old put it this way: “I want to be happy. And I want comfort—nice clothes, a nice house, good music and good food, and the feeling that I’m doing some little thing that matters.” While also expressing a desire for such things, many youths, due to their Christian training, said that they wanted to serve their God Jehovah, and to gain eternal life in his new system of things. (1 John 2:17; 2 Pet. 3:13) Really, you could have no finer purpose than this, for the rewards that God will bestow upon his faithful servants are far superior to anything you could ever get out of life on your own.—Ps. 37:4; 145:16.
3 Therefore, it is not wrong for young people to want happiness, and to want to enjoy themselves. The Bible speaks of Jehovah as “the happy God,” and so he also wants his people to be happy. (1 Tim. 1:11) It should not be surprising, then, that God’s Word speaks favorably of young people deriving pleasure from activities in which they engage. For example, in describing God’s blessed people, the Bible says: “The public squares of the city themselves will be filled with boys and girls playing.” Also, it says that there is “a time for dancing.”—Zech. 8:5; Eccl. 3:4, New English Bible.
REALIZING THE HAPPINESS THAT YOUTHS WANT
4. (a) What type of careers do many young people desire? (b) Why do Christian youths generally recognize a problem in pursuing such careers?
4 Many young people today enjoy sports very much, and believe that pursuing a career in sports will bring them real happiness. A fourteen-year-old Christian youth acknowledged: “I think a lot about sports, particularly basketball. I want to serve Jehovah, but I also dream of being a basketball player someday on a famous team.” No doubt similar desires are tugging at the hearts of thousands of Christian youths. Or, they may feel that their quest for happiness can be satisfied in the pursuit of some other type of career, such as in music or the theater. From what they have studied in God’s Word, they know that they should want to serve Jehovah, and to help others to gain life in His new system. But for some youths these things are not that real to them.
5, 6. (a) What other things do youths say they want out of life? (b) What is responsible for young people’s having such desires?
5 Making a lot of money is important to many people today. So it should not be surprising to learn that many young people said that their goal in life is to become rich. Also, young people are surrounded by a lot of things that stimulate their sexual desires. The fact is, it has always been natural for young people to be attracted to persons of the opposite sex. Thus the reply of one Christian girl in New York city is understandable: “The main thing I would like from life,” she said, “is to be married.” Many Christian youths said that they want to marry sooner or later and have a good family life.
6 By contrast, many youths of the world have quite different views. For example, a nineteen-year-old boy said: “I want lots of women.” And a seventeen-year-old girl responded: “I want to live comfortably and not worry about anything. And anything includes disease due to living a carefree life. Maybe this sounds distasteful to some, but it’s about time they grew up. Marriage ties you down. I want to live a little.”
7, 8. (a) Why is it obviously wrong to engage in immoral sex relations? (b) In what ways do many youths need help?
7 Yes, many young people believe that lots of money and lots of sex with a variety of partners is what will give them the best in life. But, obviously, something is wrong with their thinking. For look at the overwhelming problems that have resulted from immorality—the epidemic of venereal diseases, the millions of illegitimate children and abortions, the heartaches and frustrations. Little wonder that in the United States suicide has become the second leading cause of death among young people, having leaped 250 percent in recent years!
8 It is clear that many young men and women need better guidance and direction. They need help to develop a viewpoint that will equip them to obtain lasting happiness and satisfaction from life. They need to be turned to their Creator, Jehovah God, to recognize that He really exists. (Heb. 11:6) They need to see the wisdom and practicalness of his laws, how it is for their own benefit that they “flee from the desires incidental to youth” so that they can prove useful to God. (2 Tim. 2:20-22) They need to learn that his purpose is to destroy this corrupt system and to replace it with a new one of his making. They need to be helped to live for that new system, to live in a way now so that they can prove worthy to live forever. This is what will truly bring them happiness.—Prov. 3:13-18.
A BALANCED VIEW OF SPORTS
9-12. (a) How does 1 Timothy 4: 7, 8 help us to get a balanced view of sports? (b) What are benefits derived from sports, but what are the dangers of becoming overly involved in them? (c) Why is it only proper that devotion and service to God be a foremost part of our lives? (Ps. 36:9; Heb. 6:10; Jas. 1:12)
9 God’s Word can help young people to get a balanced view of sports. For example, it gives this wise counsel: “Be training yourself with godly devotion as your aim. For bodily training is beneficial for a little; but godly devotion is beneficial for all things, as it holds promise of the life now and that which is to come.” (1 Tim. 4:7, 8) So the Bible shows that “bodily training,” such as we get in sports, has its place. It can help us to develop physical coordination, flexibility, muscle tone and strength. But note the caution, “bodily training is beneficial for a little.” What can happen if such Bible advice is ignored and you become totally absorbed in sports?
10 For one thing, it can spoil the fun, making sports “serious business” rather than a welcome recreation. Pointing to the effects of overstressing competitive games, sports psychologist Bruce Ogilvie said: “I once interviewed the rookies in 10 major league baseball camps and 87 percent of them said they wished they’d never played Little League baseball because it took the joy out of what had been a fun game.” Also, some sports, such as football, can be dangerous, especially when your body is in the process of developing physically. What has made some sports so dangerous is the extreme competitiveness—the win-at-all-costs attitude—that is often encouraged.
11 Still another thing to consider is the associations to which playing organized sports may expose you. Locker-room talk, for example, generally has the reputation of being sexually immoral. How practical would it be to get involved in something that could easily damage your moral principles and your relationship with your Creator? When a young member of the Oakland Raiders professional football team, in the U.S.A., began to appreciate the teachings of God’s Word, he decided to give up his lucrative football career. Representatives of the Raiders visited him to try to change his mind. “I told them,” he said, “what my associations in those circles had resulted in—use of drugs, loose living, an arrogant, proud disposition. That whole life-style connected with professional football, I explained, would interfere with the Christian life I now wanted to lead.”
12 So sports are much like other things that are good when they are kept in balance—when they do not dominate your life so as to overshadow more important things, or to expose you to damaging situations. How exhilarating it can be to play a fast-moving sport and experience the thrill as one’s body responds and performs feats of skill! But sports in themselves are not the source of lasting happiness. They do not hold “promise of the life now and that which is to come,” as godly devotion does. Yes, making the most important thing in your life the service of your heavenly Father, Jehovah God, is what will bring you true happiness and satisfaction—forever.
A BALANCED VIEW OF MONEY AND SEX
13, 14. (a) Why, according to 1 Timothy 6:9, 10, Luke 12:16-21 and Ecclesiastes 5:10, is it unwise to have as one’s purpose the accumulating of material riches? (b) According to 1 Timothy 6:11, 12, what should we pursue, and why?
13 In most places today it takes money to eat, to buy clothes, to have a home. So efforts must necessarily be made to earn money. Yet to have as your purpose in life the accumulating of riches simply is not wise. It does not bring happiness. God’s Word is accurate when it says: “Those who are determined to be rich fall into temptation and a snare and many senseless and hurtful desires, which plunge men into destruction and ruin. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of injurious things, and by reaching out for this love some have been led astray from the faith and have stabbed themselves all over with many pains.”—1 Tim. 6:9, 10.
14 Sickness, worry, sleepless nights and a disrupted family life are among the problems experienced by many of those whose purpose in life is the making of a lot of money. Even when a person is able to accumulate wealth, it is usually observed that this does not bring him happiness. (Eccl. 5:10) So show yourself wise. Take a balanced, godly view of money. Heed the Bible admonition: “Flee from these things. But pursue righteousness, godly devotion, faith, love, endurance, mildness of temper. Fight the fine fight of the faith, get a firm hold on the everlasting life.”—1 Tim. 6:11, 12, 17-19; 2 Tim. 2:22.
15, 16. (a) How does the Bible take a frank view of sex? (b) Why is it beneficial that the Bible discusses sexual matters in a straightforward manner?
15 Certainly, to gain everlasting life requires having a balanced, godly view, not only of money, but also of sex. The Bible openly discusses sex in a truthful, frank way. The fact is, the Bible is largely a book about people, and sex is an integral part of the life of people. So God’s Word tells about the joy of honorable marriage. (Gen. 26:8; Prov. 5:15-20; 1 Cor. 7:1-5) But it also tells about the perversions and the misuse of sex. For example, just consider what is in the Bible book of Genesis. It describes the homosexual passions of the men of Sodom, the drunken relations of Lot with his daughters, the rape of Jacob’s daughter Dinah, Judah’s relations with his daughter-in-law whom he mistook for a prostitute, and the sexy attempts of Potiphar’s wife to seduce Joseph.—Gen. 19:4, 5, 30-38; 34:1, 2; 38:12-26; 39:7-16.
16 Some persons have criticized the Bible for telling about life as it really is, for exposing the badness in people’s lives. Yet the Bible never does this in a way to stimulate passions, or to encourage wrongdoing. Rather, it usually shows the bad consequence of a wrong course. Also, these accounts are recorded so that vital lessons can be learned from them. For example, consider what happened in King David’s household.
17, 18. (a) What do we learn from the experience of Amnon and Tamar, as reported at 2 Samuel 13:1-33? (b) What similar results have modern-day youths experienced from immoral sex relations?
17 David’s oldest son Amnon developed a passionate desire for his lovely half sister Tamar. Feigning sickness, he maneuvered things so that Tamar was the one who waited on him, bringing him food when no one else was around. He then “grabbed hold of her and said to her: ‘Come, lie down with me, my sister.’” She virtuously protested, but he refused to listen and forced her to lie down with him. Did he really get what he desired out of this? The record describes the result: “Amnon began hating her with a very great hatred, . . . greater than the love with which he had loved her, so that Amnon said to her: ‘Get up, go away!’”—2 Sam. 13:1-33.
18 Clearly, the fulfilling of Amnon’s passionate, incestuous desire brought no real pleasure to him or to his half sister. And this so often is the case when persons engage in immoral sex relations. The Journal of the American Medical Association reported this confession of a youth who had premarital sex relations with many misled girls. “I have learned that this did not bring me happiness.” Also, a tearful young co-ed said of such an experience: “It sure wasn’t worth it—it was no fun at the time, I’ve been worried ever since.”
19 Really, how wise we are to heed the Bible’s command: “Flee from fornication”! Indeed, “flee from the desires incidental to youth,” which can lead to trouble in your life. (1 Cor. 6:18; 2 Tim. 2:22) Sexual morality makes sense because those who hold to it have a far better likelihood of a successful marriage. On the other hand, so-called sexual “freedom” changes what should be pleasurable and clean into something cheap and detestable. So to stay free from immorality, stay free from the things that lead to it: conversation that always dwells on the opposite sex, also reading material or looking at pictures that excite sexual passion. Keep your mind, your eyes and your tongue occupied with clean, positive things, working toward worthwhile goals that bring enduring benefits.—Eph. 5:3-5; Phil. 4:8.
GETTING THE BEST OUT OF LIFE
20, 21. How do you reveal what you really want out of life?
20 So, what DO you want out of life? You may feel, as did most Witness youths who were asked that question, that you want to please Jehovah God and prepare yourself to live in his new system. That is a fine purpose, the very best! It is something truly worth while to want. But the question remains: “Is what you are doing in keeping with what you say?”
21 A person may say that what he wants out of life is to be an expert physician. But what if that person made no effort to apply himself in school, or even to take courses that would give him knowledge of the human body and its functions? You would probably question the sincerity of the person’s desire to be a physician. Similarly, you are answering the question, “What do you want out of life?”, by the way you are living. It reminds one of the expression, ‘What you are thunders so loud that I can’t hear what you are saying.’ A person may say that he wants to please Jehovah God and to gain everlasting life, but if that person makes little or no effort to listen to God by studying or obeying His Word, obviously something is lacking.
22. (a) What can you do to help to strengthen your desire to serve Jehovah? (b) How can you prove to be “a vessel for an honorable purpose,” as described at 2 Timothy 2:20-22?
22 What can you do if you find that you are one of those who says that he wants to serve Jehovah God but who is not doing as much as he should be to serve God? Here is one step you can take: Read the new book published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, Your Youth—Getting the Best out of It. Make a real effort to begin applying its sound Scriptural counsel. Also, where possible, ask your father or mother if they will study this book with you. This will put you on the right track for winning Jehovah’s favor. It will help you to “flee from the desires incidental to youth,” and to become a useful “vessel,” or instrument, to God.—2 Tim. 2:20-22.
23, 24. (a) What is the key to getting the best out of life, as indicated at Proverbs 4:20-23? (b) Despite enemies who are against us, why can we be confident that we can get the best out of life now and forever?
23 Each of us needs to realize that the key to getting the best out of life is found in our reliance on our heavenly Father, Jehovah God. No matter how fine, or how poor, a start your parents may have given you, and no matter how good a mind and body you may have, you will always want to appreciate the need for guidance from Jehovah. He inspired these words to be written for young persons like yourself: “To my sayings incline your ear. May they not get away from your eyes. Keep them in the midst of your heart. For they are life to those finding them and health to all their flesh. More than all else that is to be guarded, safeguard your heart, for out of it are the sources of life.”—Prov. 4:20-23.
24 Yes, the more you look to Jehovah God and his Word for direction, the smoother the road of life will become for you. True, it will not be easy so long as we are in this world with its god, Satan the Devil, who is trying to turn us away from Jehovah. (2 Cor. 4:4; Eph. 6:12; 1 Pet. 5:8, 9) But stand firm! Be confident! If you stick to your determination to serve Jehovah God, he and all his heavenly hosts will back you up. They will help you to get the best out of your youth now, and to gain everlasting life in God’s righteous new system so near at hand.—Ps. 34:7.