Independent Thinking

by Jeffrey W. Hamilton

During the teenage years, we begin to assert our independence. We want to make our own decisions about our lives. For many years other people have made decisions for us, but now we want to make our own.

In many ways this is desirable. It is a mark of adulthood when a person can make their own decisions and are willing to accept the consequences of those decisions whether they are good or bad. Unfortunately, many of our early decisions are not the result of true independent thinking. Many teenagers make choices on the simple criteria that it is not what Mom or Dad would choose. It doesn’t seem like your own decision if it matches what would have been decided for you, so you choose something else just to be different. The problem is that right and wrong are not considered. The value of a decision is how different it is from your parents. As a result, many teenagers discard the knowledge of older people and often make some very dumb choices.

A young king had this problem. His name was Rehoboam. When he took the throne, the people approached him requesting some relief from the taxes his father had imposed during his reign. His father’s advisors considered the idea and told the young king that it would be a good way to win the hearts of the people to him. However, Rehoboam also talked to people of his own age. They told him to assert himself and show the people who was king. Rehoboam liked his friends’ idea and told the people if they thought the tax burden was heavy before, they had not seen anything yet. The result was that ten of the twelve tribes rebelled and formed their own kingdom. (I Kings 12:1-16).

Instead of weighing a decision based on right or wrong, Rehoboam chose the way that was different from his father’s generation. Looking back at it, it was obviously a dumb choice, but how many dumb choices do we make simply because we want to be different from our parents and their generation?

For Further Study

Verses to Consider

  • Deuteronomy 1:43
  • II Chronicles 18:1; 19:2
  • Proverbs 1:5
  • Proverbs 1:10
  • Proverbs 3:5-7
  • Proverbs 9:9
  • Proverbs 11:14
  • Proverbs 12:15
  • Proverbs 13:10
  • Proverbs 15:22
  • Proverbs 26:12
  • Isaiah 19:11-14
  • Micah 3:5
  • II Timothy 4:3-4
  • II Peter 2:20

Questions to Ponder

  1. Many people make decisions based on criteria other than right and wrong. List several of these reasons.
  2. Should we make our own decisions without considering the advice of others? Why or why not?
  3. Is all advice equally good?
  4. Who is responsible if you listened to bad advice and made the wrong decision?
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