“They [adolescents] now seem to love luxury, they have bad manners and contempt for authority, they show disrespect for adults and spend their time hanging around places gossiping with one another. They are ready to contradict their parents, monopolize the conversation and company, eat gluttonously and tyrannize their teachers….”
—Socrates about 400 B.C.
The quote from Socrates, the ancient Greek philosopher and teacher, sounds like it could have been pulled from today’s newspapers. It appears teens have always experienced turbulent times, and they have been troublesome to those around them. Socrates seems to have little sympathy for the enormous changes young men and women experience during adolescence, he is focused on behaviors rather than getting below the surface. Who knows . . . as a teacher perhaps he was a victim of their perceived tyranny, referenced at the end of the quote.
Fast forward multiple centuries and teens today are disrespecting parents, showing contempt for authority, and behaving rudely, just like Socrates described, but Dr. Joe White sees things a little differently. Considered an expert on teenagers, he knows outer misbehavior will not be altered without inner transformation. He is sensitive to the extreme pressures, the pushes and pulls from all directions that can eventually topple teens. And he can relate to the rampant rejection often experienced during adolescence, pain for him that God has shown to be powerfully purposeful. Having ministered to thousands of teenagers for more than five decades, Joe assesses his turbulent teenage years: “Being the little loser taught me to care. To this day I have a soft spot for hurting kids. I’m always ready for a letter or phone call or conversation with a teenager . . . who is like I was.”
The search for Love:
The search for Significance:
The search for Security:
• For the teenager
“Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” (2 Timothy 2:22)
• For the parent
“These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)