My lovely mother-in-law emailed me a link to a recent piece written by John Piper about the phenomenon of extended adolescence. The piece is helpful and represents a good pastor-centered perspective of this problem in American society. I am glad that Piper is not simply sidestepping this cultural event, as too many pastors do, but that he is addressing it. His thoughts got me thinking on one cause of the “adultolescence” phenomenon: a lack of vision.
What do I mean by this? Many fathers have failed to give their children a vision for their lives. This is of course only one factor among many that contribute to the aforementioned problem. Chief among other factors that one could cover (indeed, that I have and do cover on this blog) are personal laziness and immaturity on the part of young people. With that noted, though, the lack of a life “map” is an overlooked factor in this discussion, I think. I would love to know how many of you out there had a father who gave you a vision for your life–in any form. I don’t mean that he prophesied over your life, or that he told you exactly what you should do with yourself. No, I’m referring to any kind of vision at all. Did he encourage you? Did he point out gifts in your life that you could channel to positive ends? Did he say, “Here’s what you should be thinking about for the future”? I’m guessing that many out there had fathers who failed to provide this vision. Many others were raised in broken homes, and dad was either absent or not around to even begin to provide a vision for life.
This is one reason why so many young people today obsess over the idea of calling. This is why so many twentysomethings bounce from job to job and worry about never finding the right work. This is why many Christians struggle with fear of failure when it comes to vocation. Such people never had a father who gave them a clear picture of the future, who sat them down and talked through their predilections, abilities, interests, and goals, who attempted to provide guidance and support before launching their children into the world. I’m dealing with this problem from a masculine standpoint in this article, but this is also why so many Christian women struggle to figure out their place and role in the world. For whatever reason, dad never came alongside them and instructed them as to what is truly important in the world. This absence has left a generation of women alone in figuring out what to do in life and how to make sense of it all. With such a picture, it is unsurprising that we are in a cultural maturity crisis. As parents lost sight of their roles and responsibilities in twentieth century America, so too did their children. Now, they are drifting, and America is scratching its head, and our civilization is slowly tipping into the sea.