Never Underestimate a Teenager

It was one of those time when the words rocked off the page, "While he was yet a boy." The description belongs to King Josiah, 16 at the time and a bright light in the godless fog that had enveloped the nation of Judah. Josiah’s father, Amon, was dead—the victim of conspiratorial servants. That made Josiah, his eight-year old son, next in line for the throne.

The writer of Chronicles notes that when Josiah hit sixteen, he began to seek the LORD. Then at the tender age of twenty he enacted some very tough reforms.

For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet a boy, he began to seek the God of David his father, and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high places, the Asherim, and the carved and the metal images. And they chopped down the altars of the Baals in his presence, and he cut down the incense altars that stood above them. And he broke in pieces the Asherim and the carved and the metal images, and he made dust of them and scattered it over the graves of those who had sacrificed to them. He also burned the bones of the priests on their altars and cleansed Judah and Jerusalem… (2 Chronicles 34:3-5 ESV)

Josiah was wielding a big stick! Look at the verbs: chopped, cut down, broke, and burned. He took actions that were necessary to preserve the nation. What makes his reforms so impressive is that they came in the wake of fifty-five years of evil initiated by his grandfather, Manasseh. We are talking a spiritual momentum shift of gargantuan proportions.

TK 70s
TK 70s

We should never underestimate a teenager because we can never underestimate the life-altering power of God. God's power overcomes all obstacles, even when the obstacle is the inexperience of a sixteen-year-old pimply-faced boy.

Where were you at 16? I was a Junior at Palm Beach Gardens High School. I was a rambunctious, self-centered, fun-loving, “clean kid” who didn’t have a clue about his future. I liked cars, a girl named Nancy, and hanging out with my friend Jeff.  I was a serious non-candidate to do anything for God. But God, who specializes in seeing what others do not, had other plans.

It's easy for us to see what someone can’t be; it's a little tougher to see what they can become. Josiah is a reminder that the goodness of God can overcome any bad omens in the life of a young person.

  • Bad heritage? Josiah had that.  Manasseh, his grandfather, had sacrificed his own children in the fire.
  • Bad childhood? Josiah had that. He grew up without a father.
  • Bad environment? Josiah had that. Spiritually speaking, he was living in the equivalent of the Great Depression.

I've been reading, A Patriot's History of the United States. The authors note, "Among the most respected leaders of these 'Pilgrims,' as they later came to be known, was a sixteen-year-old boy named William Bradford." [1] Hmmm . . . sixteen! Bradford went on to help compose the Mayflower Compact (1620), one of the most important documents in our nation's history.

God loves teenagers. God changes teenagers. God works through teenagers. Never underestimate a teenager!

What teenager can you pray for today?


[1] Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen, A Patriot's History of the United States, page 27.