The problem with our society today is not that we have adults who act like children. The problem is, we have adults who aspire to act like children. It is their goal in life. They hate the idea of acting like adults (although they absolutely insist upon being treated as adults). They do not just embrace their “inner child” — they give their “inner child” the steering wheel, pump him or her full of positivity, and put the pedal to the metal.
As a result, they are miserable, unfulfilled, up to their eyeballs in debt, and pointing the finger of blame at everyone except themselves. It’s shameful.
This hit the fan for me when I saw a Facebook meme entitled, “When in doubt live like a toddler.” I expected it to be silly, lighthearted, but ultimately wrongheaded. But that’s not how it came across to me. Call me a cynical old fuddy-duddy (whose vocabulary clearly is way out of date), but this reads like a celebration of incompetence, complacency, and self-congratulatory laziness.
I disagree with the basic premise, if you haven’t figured that out yet. And tempted though I am to go line by line and explain why, I will restrain myself and instead discuss the odd notion that grown adults find fulfillment in reversing decades of personal development.
What is the point of growing up, after all, if we simply forget everything we’ve learned when times get difficult, or stressful, or confusing, or … well, pretty much any time we feel like it? Childhood is for acquiring the skills we will need to function as an adult; abandoning those skills just when we need them the most makes a mockery of both childhood and adulthood.
A Christian should be downright embarrassed to live like a toddler. A Christian takes responsibility (1 Timothy 5:8). He works hard (Ephesians 4:28). He tries to grow (Philippians 3:13-14). He demonstrates modesty (1 Timothy 1:15). He shows restraint (1 Corinthians 9:25-27). He considers the needs and feelings of others (Philippians 2:3-4).
We don’t expect such things from toddlers; thus the appeal. But if you want the indulgences offered to toddlers, you should expect to be treated as a toddler in every other way. If you want the privileges that come with adulthood, you must accept its responsibilities as well. Fair is fair.
Allow me to suggest an alternative list, to be filed under the heading, “When in doubt, act like a grown-up” —
1) When you hear “no,” respect authority.
2) You give up sin, always. And give up carnal pursuits when they interfere with more important things.
3) You know yourself too well to be too impressed at anything you do.
4) You constantly do things you do not want to do, because you want to serve others and grow personally.
5) You don’t “show off” anything, especially your weaknesses.
6) God is always first. Then others. Then your own real needs. Fun is last.
7) You see others make idiots out of themselves and have too much respect for yourself and others to copy them.
8) You know others so well that you are able to increase their happiness and decrease their anger.
9) You celebrate your salvation constantly and invite others to join in.
10) You live and love Jesus. (The more grown-up you get, the more this applies.)
And #11 is for free — You use capital letters and punctuation.