About My Father’s Business – Trust, Control and Adolescent Behavior

William_Holman_Hunt_-_The_Finding_of_the_Saviour_in_the_Temple - Painting of Jesus as an adolescent boy in the Temple

This morning I read Luke 2:41-52 where Joseph and Mary were looking for their adolescent son, Jesus, for three days. They were clearly upset when they found Him, “Son, why have You treated us this way? Behold, Your Father and I have been anxiously looking for You.” And He said to them (verse 49), “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I had to be in my Father’s house?” And then verse 50 is the startling commentary, “And they did not understand the statement which He had made to them.”

Jesus had an assignment from His Father. He had to do His assignment in order to cooperate with God’s perfect plan . . . yet, Jesus’ parents must have been worried sick about Jesus after looking for Him for three days . . . yet despite the angel messengers, the parents still did not comprehend God’s plans for Jesus.

As I have been prayerfully reflecting on this passage, I realize that lots of young men and women in their adolescent years (12 and up) do startling things that their parents don’t understand—some of your children start much earlier than that. I recall my father telling the story of experimenting with gunpowder and blowing up the palm of his hand in high school. Curiosity drove him to explore such things . . . while his experimentation landed him in the hospital and caused him to miss two months of school, it was a precursor to his 42-year career in industrial engineering where he led many students to Christ.

I also recall my mother’s startling adolescent behavior . . . story after story of hyperactive social involvement, getting in trouble, music ministry, dating most nights of the week, etc. that drove her parents crazy in her adolescent years. But then, it has just occurred to me that she, too, was just being who she was and that was an extrovert off the charts. This was how she was wired and a precursor to her raising a family and being the social butterfly in the neighborhood where she led many to Christ. Her adolescent social hyperactivity was also a precursor to her 27-year career in the same elementary school as the principal’s secretary, where, in that role, she was the social hub of the school and, again, led many to Christ.

God’s Wiring, God’s Plan

All of this to say that God had a plan for His Son, He had a plan for my parents, and He has a plan for your son(s) and/or your daughter(s). If you want to know more about that plan, pay attention to how they are wired, what activities they gravitate towards, and how they spend their spare time. Then, I encourage you, rather than fighting against this wiring, start praying and asking God how you can nurture the design of your child(ren) and pray like crazy that God will use that wiring for His perfect ministry plan in the Kingdom.

Indeed, God does have a special plan for each one of your children, even though it does not always seem like it when you peer into their bedrooms of disarray, listen to their scattered thinking, observe them at play, or deal with their defiance, confusion, or seemingly disjointed or all-consuming interests. Perhaps some prayerful reflection on the following questions will encourage you today in your parenting and home educator roles:

Reflect and Pray

  • Lord, am I trusting You . . . that you made my child exactly the way you intended? Or, am I trying to change my child into what I want him or her to be?
  • Lord, am I cultivating my child’s interests? Or, am I resisting my child’s interests?
  • Lord, am I helping my child connect his interests with vocational possibilities? Or, am I viewing his interests disparagingly?
  • (Sit in silence and listen to the Spirit.) Lord, is there something I need to hear from You today about my heart response to the startling actions or interests of my adolescent or child?

Lord, I confess to you my disordered heart and my desire to make my child or adolescent who I want him to be. I relinquish my need to control him, and I recommit to You that I will listen to You more as I observe, love, and raise my child. For you (not I) have ordained my child’s days (Psalm 139:16). For You (not I) have formed his inward parts (Psalm 139:13). For You (not I) have made no mistakes as it relates to the creation of my child.

Therefore, I will trust You for who my child is today and who my child will be tomorrow. I will listen to the tutelage of your Spirit as I pray and observe my child, his actions, his interests. I will trust you for his future. I confess to You my shortcomings, and I receive from You with full trust the tutelage of Your Spirit in the raising and teaching of my child. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.

June Hetzel, Ph.D., Dean of Education, Biola University