Every culture has various rites of passage that help its members grow, develop, and know where they stand in society. Some cultures define the rite of passage into adulthood as an age. While others base this passage upon the accomplishment of the individual. Interestingly, because we are salad bowl of cultures in the United States, we lack clear rites of passage into adulthood. Some advocate for accomplishments such as graduation from high school or getting a driver’s license. Car insurance companies advocate for the age of 25, but the government makes it quite clear that I have to provide health insurance for my kids until they are 27. I considered myself an adult when I graduated from college – but my sister didn’t graduate from college. Since she is a grandma now, I guess my sister is an adult!
What defines adulthood? Let me suggest that adulthood is defined by the ability, willingness, and capacity for considering the needs of others.
My first formal job was as an ice cream server for Friendly’s Restaurants. My first experience in adulthood was participating in a team sport in third grade. I received my GED when I was 17 and my driver’s license when I was 16. I was named the captain of my college soccer team at 19. I graduated from college and was married at 21. We had our first child at 22. I was appointed as a senior pastor and was ordained as a minister of the church at 26. I finished graduate school at 38. And I am the grandpa to an unborn granddaughter at 50.
When did I become an adult? Better yet, when did I learn to consider others more important than myself? When did I finally start thinking about the needs of others? Frankly, when I was 19 – but I really didn’t understand the full extent of what that really meant until we had our first child.
This COVID season has been one that some have needed to mourn a loss of a rite of passage. Some have given birth, been married, graduated, or received their driver’s license during this season – and had minimal opportunity to celebrate with others. Some had what their family culture defines as significant birthdays without any fanfare. And most amateur team sports have been canceled for the Fall – except for college football in some of the conferences, (but are they truly amateur?).
I would suggest that in this vacuum of rituals, we need to invest in the development of our young people into adulthood. We need to challenge them to grow in wisdom, in stature, and in the favor of God and man. We need to call every child into an increased understanding of what it means to consider the needs of others before our own. And we cannot grow weary in this mandate of discipleship.
The transition from children of God to sonship is one that every believer should be called. The biggest obstacle to the development of the believer is the childish mindset that I need to be fed by another. Certainly, we must learn from one another, but the food that satisfies is ministry to one another. If you want to grow into a mature believer, the key is your ability, capacity, and willingness to consider the needs of others as well as your own. This is very character and attitude of Christ Himself.
Is there someone in your circle of influence who needs to be nurtured into adulthood? If not, might I suggest two specific ministries at HarvestDowntown that could use you: HarvestKids and HarvestYouth. Both ministries need adults to serve. Many of our youth and some of our kids are already learning this valuable lesson of adulthood by serving those who are younger – but we need more mentors.
This Sunday is one of significance at HarvestDowntown, as we ask the kids to move to their appropriate age group. Throughout the summer months, we allow our kids to float between age groups with the goal that by the first Sunday in September, they can settle into their appropriate age group. In “normal” years, we have had our church picnic on the first Sunday in September, but this year that is not possible. So, please prepare your children for this significant event. For those moving into the elementary classes – it is time to start bringing your Bible to church. If your child does not own their own Bible, then this is a great time to buy them a Bible of their own.
If you would like to serve as a mentor to our younger members, we ask you to click HERE to fill out the following application form. We will also be asking you to authorize us to do a background check on you. We will also be having a HarvestKids “In-Service” on Saturday, September 19 at 10:00 at 411 North Weber. This is for everyone who works with or would be willing to work with kids.
We all need mentors to help us navigate the rites of passage. For most of us, this was our parents, but wise parents help their kids find more mentors who will speak into their kids’ lives. Whether you choose to serve our kids as a mentor or not, please know that mentorship is a Biblical mandate that is called discipleship, (relationship with intentionality). Please find someone that you can mentor and find someone who will mentor you.