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Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 1

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    Section 7—Adolescence and Youth

    Chapter 31—Problems of Youth

    Youth Are Receptive and Hopeful—The youth are receptive, fresh, ardent, hopeful. When once they have tasted the blessedness of self-sacrifice, they will not be satisfied unless they are constantly learning of the Great Teacher. The Lord will open ways before those who will respond to His call.—Testimonies for the Church 6:471 (1900).1MCP 281.1

    Youth Must Choose Life Destiny—By the thoughts and feelings cherished in early years every youth is determining his own life history. Correct, virtuous, manly habits formed in youth will become a part of the character and will usually mark the course of the individual through life. The youth may become vicious or virtuous, as they choose. They may as well be distinguished for true and noble deeds as for great crime and wickedness.—The Signs of the Times, October 11, 1910. (Child Guidance, 196.)1MCP 281.2

    Training That Produces Mental and Moral Weakness—The severe training of youth—without properly directing them to think and act for themselves as their own capacity and turn of mind will allow, that by this means they may have growth of thought, feelings of self-respect, and confidence in their own ability to perform— will ever produce a class who are weak in mental and moral power. And when they stand in the world to act for themselves, they will reveal the fact that they were trained like the animals, and not educated. Their wills, instead of being guided, were forced into subjection by the harsh discipline of parents and teachers.—Testimonies for the Church 3:133 (1872).1MCP 281.3

    The Mind to Be Educated to Rule the Life—Children have an intelligent will, which should be directed to control all their powers. Dumb animals need to be trained, for they have not reason and intellect. But the human mind must be taught self-control. It must be educated to rule the human being, while animals are controlled by a master and are trained to be submissive to him. The master is mind, judgment, and will for his beast. A child may be so trained as to have, like the beast, no will of his own. Even his individuality may be merged in the one who superintends his training; his will, to all intents and purposes, is subject to the will of the teacher.1MCP 282.1

    Children who are thus educated will ever be deficient in moral energy and individual responsibility. They have not been taught to move from reason and principle; their wills have been controlled by another, and the mind has not been called out, that it might expand and strengthen by exercise. They have not been directed and disciplined with respect to their peculiar constitutions and capabilities of mind to put forth their strongest powers when required. Teachers should not stop here but should give special attention to the cultivation of the weaker faculties, that all the powers may be brought into exercise and carried forward from one degree of strength to another, that the mind may attain due proportions.—Testimonies for the Church 3:132 (1872).1MCP 282.2

    Many Incapable of Thinking for Themselves—There are many families of children who appear to be well trained while under the training discipline; but when the system which has held them to set rules is broken up, they seem to be incapable of thinking, acting, or deciding for themselves. These children have been so long under iron rule—not allowed to think and act for themselves in those things in which it was highly proper that they should—that they have no confidence in themselves to move out upon their own judgment, having an opinion of their own.1MCP 282.3

    And when they go out from their parents to act for themselves, they are easily led by others’ judgment in the wrong direction. They have not stability of character. They have not been thrown upon their own judgment as fast and as far as practicable, and therefore their minds have not been properly developed and strengthened. They have so long been absolutely controlled by their parents that they rely wholly upon them; their parents are mind and judgment for them.—Testimonies for the Church 3:132, 133 (1872).1MCP 283.1

    The Results of Controlling Through Force or Fear—Those parents and teachers who boast of having complete control of the minds and wills of the children under their care would cease their boastings could they trace out the future lives of the children who are thus brought into subjection by force or through fear. These are almost wholly unprepared to share in the stern responsibilities of life. When these youth are no longer under their parents and teachers, and are compelled to think and act for themselves, they are almost sure to take a wrong course and yield to the power of temptation. They do not make this life a success, and the same deficiencies are seen in their religious life.—Testimonies for the Church 3:133, 134 (1872).1MCP 283.2

    Discipline Which Stimulates and Strengthens—Beyond the discipline of the home and the school, all have to meet the stern discipline of life. How to meet this wisely is a lesson that should be made plain to every child and to every youth. It is true that God loves us, that He is working for our happiness, and that, if His law had always been obeyed, we should never have known suffering; and it is no less true that in this world—as the result of sin—suffering, trouble, burdens, come to every life. We may do the children and the youth a lifelong good by teaching them to meet bravely these troubles and burdens. While we should give them sympathy, let it never be such as to foster self-pity. What they need is that which stimulates and strengthens rather than weakens.—Education, 295 (1903).1MCP 283.3

    Reaction to Ironclad Rules—Into your discipline bring not a particle of harshness. Lay no rigid injunctions on the youth. It is these ironclad rules and commands that sometimes lead them to feel that they must and will do the thing they are charged not to do. When giving caution or reproof to the youth, do it as one who has a special interest in them. Let them see that you have an earnest desire for them to make a good record in the books of heaven.—Letter 67, 1902.1MCP 284.1

    Hard for Youth to Bear Burdens—The young can exert a powerful influence if they will give up their pride and selfishness and devote themselves to God; but as a general thing they will not bear burdens for others. They have to be carried themselves. The time has come when God requires a change in this respect. He calls upon young and old to be zealous and repent. If they continue in their state of lukewarmness, He will spew them out of His mouth. Says the True Witness, “I know thy works.” Young man, young woman, your works are known, whether they be good or whether they be evil. Are you rich in good works? Jesus comes to you as a counselor: “I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see” (Revelation 3:18).—Testimonies for the Church 1:485 (1867).1MCP 284.2

    Thoughts Become Habits—We need a constant sense of the ennobling power of pure thoughts. The only security for any soul is right thinking. As a man “thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). The power of self-restraint strengthens by exercise. That which at first seems difficult, by constant repetition grows easy, until right thoughts and actions become habitual. If we will, we may turn away from all that is cheap and inferior and rise to a high standard; we may be respected by men and beloved of God.—The Ministry of Healing, 491 (1905).1MCP 285.1

    Sad Examples From History—The character of Napoleon Bonaparte was greatly influenced by his training in childhood. Unwise instructors inspired him with a love for conquest, forming mimic armies and placing him at their head as commander. Here was laid the foundation for his career of strife and bloodshed. Had the same care and effort been directed to making him a good man, imbuing his young heart with the spirit of the gospel, how widely different might have been his history.1MCP 285.2

    It is said that Hume, the skeptic, was in early life a conscientious believer in the Word of God. Being connected with a debating society, he was appointed to present the arguments in favor of infidelity. He studied with earnestness and perseverance, and his keen and active mind became imbued with the sophistry of skepticism. Erelong he came to believe its delusive teachings, and his whole afterlife bore the dark impress of infidelity.—The Signs of the Times, October 11, 1910. (Child Guidance, 196.)1MCP 285.3

    The Influence of Reading [See Chapter 13, Food for the Mind.]—Many youth are eager for books. They read anything that they can obtain. I appeal to the parents of such children to control their desire for reading. Do not permit upon your tables the magazines and newspapers in which are found love stories. Supply their place with books that will help the youth to put into their character building the very best material—the love and fear of God, the knowledge of Christ. Encourage your children to store the mind with valuable knowledge, to let that which is good occupy the soul and control its powers, leaving no place for low, debasing thoughts. Restrict the desire for reading matter that does not furnish good food for the mind. The money expended for story magazines may not seem much, but it is too much to spend for that which gives so much that is misleading and so little that is good in return.—Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 133 (1913).1MCP 285.4

    Mind Takes Level of Things It Observes—The understanding takes the level of the things with which it becomes familiar. If all would make the Bible [See Chapter 11, “Bible Study and the Mind.”] their study, we should see a people further developed, capable of thinking more deeply, and showing a greater degree of intelligence than the most earnest efforts in studying merely the sciences and histories of the world could make them. The Bible gives the true seeker an advanced mental discipline, and he comes from contemplation of divine things with his faculties enriched; self is humbled, while God and His revealed truth are exalted.—The Review and Herald, August 21, 1888. (Fundamentals of Christian Education, 130.)1MCP 286.1

    Value of Personal Religious Experience—God should be the highest object of our thoughts. Meditating upon Him and pleading with Him elevate the soul and quicken the affections. A neglect of meditation and prayer will surely result in a declension in religious interests. Then will be seen carelessness and slothfulness.1MCP 286.2

    Religion is not merely an emotion, a feeling. It is a principle which is interwoven with all the daily duties and transactions of life. Nothing will be entertained, no business engaged in, which will prevent the accompaniment of this principle. To retain pure and undefiled religion, it is necessary to be workers, persevering in effort.1MCP 286.3

    We must do something ourselves. No one else can do our work. None but ourselves can work out our salvation with fear and trembling. This is the very work which the Lord has left for us to do.—Testimonies for the Church 2:505, 506 (1870).1MCP 287.1

    Youth Need Discipline of Labor—And now, as in the days of Israel, every youth should be instructed in the duties of practical life. Each should acquire a knowledge of some branch of manual labor by which, if need be, he may obtain a livelihood. This is essential, not only as a safeguard against the vicissitudes of life, but from its bearing upon physical, mental, and moral development. Even if it were certain that one would never need to resort to manual labor for his support, still he should be taught to work. Without physical exercise, no one can have a sound constitution and vigorous health; and the discipline of well-regulated labor is no less essential to the securing of a strong and active mind and a noble character.—Patriarchs and Prophets, 601 (1890).1MCP 287.2

    Idleness Is a Sin—The idea that ignorance of useful employment is an essential characteristic of the true gentleman or lady is contrary to the design of God in the creation of man. Idleness is a sin, and ignorance of common duties is the result of folly, which afterlife will give ample occasion to bitterly regret.—The Signs of the Times, June 29, 1882. (Fundamentals of Christian Education, 75.)1MCP 287.3

    Training in Domestic Duties Not to Be Neglected—In childhood and youth practical and literary training should be combined. Children should be taught to have a part in domestic duties. They should be instructed how to help father and mother in the little things that they can do. Their minds should be trained to think, their memories taxed to remember their appointed work; and in the training to habits of usefulness in the home they are being educated in doing practical duties appropriate to their age. If children have proper home training, they will not be found upon the streets, receiving the haphazard education that so many receive. Parents who love their children in a sensible way will not permit them to grow up with lazy habits and ignorant of how to do home duties.—Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 149 (1913).1MCP 287.4

    What Every Woman Should Know—Many ladies, accounted well-educated, having graduated with honors at some institution of learning, are shamefully ignorant of the practical duties of life. They are destitute of the qualifications necessary for the proper regulation of the family, and hence essential to its happiness. They may talk of woman's elevated sphere and of her rights, yet they themselves fall far below the true sphere of woman.1MCP 288.1

    It is the right of every daughter of Eve to have a thorough knowledge of household duties, to receive training in every department of domestic labor. Every young lady should be so educated that if called to fill the position of wife and mother, she may preside as a queen in her own domain. She should be fully competent to guide and instruct her children....1MCP 288.2

    It is her right to understand the mechanism of the human body and the principles of hygiene, the matters of diet and dress, labor and recreation, and countless others that intimately concern the well-being of her household. It is her right to obtain such a knowledge of the best methods of treating disease that she can care for her children in sickness, instead of leaving her precious treasures in the hands of stranger nurses and physicians.—The Signs of the Times, June 29, 1882. (Fundamentals of Christian Education, 75.)1MCP 288.3

    When Women Failed to Train Mind—Woman professing godliness generally fail to train the mind. They leave it uncontrolled, to go where it will. This is a great mistake. Many seem to have no mental power. They have not educated the mind to think; and because they have not done this, they suppose they cannot. Meditation and prayer are necessary to a growth in grace.1MCP 288.4

    Why there is no more stability among women is because of so little mental culture, so little reflection. Leaving the mind in a state of inaction, they lean upon others to do the brain work, to plan, and think, and remember for them, and thus grow more and more inefficient. Some need to discipline the mind by exercise. They should force it to think. While they depend upon someone to think for them, to solve their difficulties, and they refuse to tax the mind with thought, the inability to remember, to look ahead and discriminate, will continue. Efforts must be made by every individual to educate the mind.—Testimonies for the Church 2:187, 188 (1868).1MCP 289.1

    Women's Dress an Index of the Mind—Dress is an index of the mind and heart. That which is hung upon the outside is the sign of what is within. It does not require intellect or a cultivated mind to overdress. The very fact that women can hang upon their persons such an amount of needless articles of clothing shows that they cannot have time to cultivate their intellects and store their minds with useful knowledge.—Manuscript 76, 1900.1MCP 289.2

    Need for Purity in Thought and Action—I urge upon you the necessity of purity in every thought, in every word, in every action. We have an individual accountability to God, an individual work which no one can do for us. It is to make the world better by precept, personal effort, and example. While we should cultivate sociability, let it not be merely for amusement but for a purpose. There are souls to save.—The Review and Herald, November 10, 1885. (Evangelism, 495.)1MCP 289.3

    Masturbation Debases the Mind [See Child Guidance, 439-468.]—Some children begin to practice self-pollution in their infancy; and as they increase in years, the lustful passions grow with their growth and strengthen with their strength. Their minds are not at rest. Girls desire the society of boys, and boys that of the girls. Their deportment is not reserved and modest. They are bold and forward, and take indecent liberties. The habit of self-abuse has debased their minds and tainted their souls. Vile thoughts, and the reading of novels, love stories, and vile books excite their imagination, and just such suit their depraved minds.1MCP 290.1

    They do not love work, and when engaged in labor they complain of fatigue; their backs ache, their heads ache. Is there not sufficient cause? Are they fatigued because of their labor? No, no! Yet the parents indulge these children in their complaints and release them from labor and responsibility. This is the very worst thing that they can do for them. They are thus removing almost the only barrier that prevents Satan from having free access to their weakened minds. Useful labor would in some measure be a safeguard from his decided control of them.—Testimonies for the Church 2:481 (1870).1MCP 290.2

    The Youth Will Use Energies—Youthful talent, well organized and well trained, is needed in our churches. The youth will do something with their overflowing energies. Unless these energies are directed into right channels, they will be used by the youth in a way that will hurt their own spirituality and prove an injury to those with whom they associate.—Gospel Workers, 211 (1915).1MCP 290.3

    Youth Need Activity—The young naturally desire activity, and if they find no legitimate scope for their pent-up energies after the confinement of the schoolroom, they become restless and impatient of control and thus are led to engage in the rude, unmanly sports that disgrace so many schools and colleges and even to plunge into scenes of actual dissipation. Many of the youth who left their homes innocent are corrupted by their associations at school.—The Signs of the Times, June 29, 1882, (Fundamentals of Christian Education, 72.)1MCP 290.4

    Respond to Suggestion—No recreation helpful only to themselves will prove so great a blessing to the children and youth as that which makes them helpful to others. Naturally enthusiastic and impressible, the young are quick to respond to suggestion. In planning for the culture of plants, let the teacher seek to awaken an interest in beautifying the school grounds and the schoolroom. A double benefit will result. That which the pupils seek to beautify they will be unwilling to have marred or defaced. A refined taste, a love of order, and a habit of caretaking will be encouraged; and the spirit of fellowship and cooperation developed will prove to the pupils a lifelong blessing.—Education, 212, 213 (1903).1MCP 291.1

    Sometimes Fail to See God as a Loving Father—The young generally conduct themselves as though the precious hours of probation, while mercy lingers, were one grand holiday and they were placed in this world merely for their own amusement, to be gratified with a continued round of excitement. Satan has been making special efforts to lead them to find happiness in worldly amusements and to justify themselves by endeavoring to show that these amusements are harmless, innocent, and even important for health. The impression has been given by some physicians that spirituality and devotion to God are detrimental to health. This suits the adversary of souls.—Testimonies for the Church 1:501 (1867).1MCP 291.2

    Diseased Imaginations Misrepresent God—There are persons with diseased imaginations who do not rightly represent the religion of Christ; such have not the pure religion of the Bible. Some are scourging themselves all through life because of their sins; all they can see is an offended God of justice. Christ and His redeeming power through the merits of His blood they fail to see. Such have not faith. This class are generally those who have not well-balanced minds.1MCP 291.3

    Through disease transmitted to them from their parents and an erroneous education in youth, they have contracted wrong habits which injure the constitution and the brain, causing the moral organs to become diseased and making it impossible for them to think and act rationally upon all points. They have not well-balanced minds. Godliness and righteousness are not destructive to health, but are health to the body and strength to the soul.—Testimonies for the Church 1:501, 502 (1867).1MCP 292.1

    Need for Restraint—Always act from principle, never from impulse. Temper the natural impetuosity of your nature with meekness and gentleness. Indulge in no lightness or trifling. Let no low witticism escape your lips. Even the thoughts are not to be allowed to run riot. They must be restrained, brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. Let them be placed upon holy things. Then, through the grace of Christ, they will be pure and true.—The Ministry of Healing, 491 (1905).1MCP 292.2

    Keeping Sentimentalism Out of the Life—You are now in your student's life; let your mind dwell upon spiritual subjects. Keep all sentimentalism apart from your life. Give to yourself vigilant self-instruction and bring yourself under self-control. You are now in the formative period of character; nothing with you is to be considered trivial or unimportant which will detract from your highest, holiest interest, your efficiency in the preparation to do the work God has assigned you.1MCP 292.3

    Preserve ever simplicity of action but make your standard high for the harmonious manifestation and improvement of your mental faculties. Be determined to correct every fault. Hereditary tendencies may be overcome—the quick, violent outbursts of temper so changed that these manifestations will be, through the grace of Christ, entirely overcome. We are, individually, to consider that we are in God's workshop.—Letter 23, 1893.1MCP 292.4

    Facing the Need for Counsel—The young should not be left to think and act independently of the judgment of their parents and teachers. Children should be taught to respect experienced judgment and to be guided by their parents and teachers. They should be so educated that their minds will be united with the minds of their parents and teachers, and so instructed that they can see the propriety of heeding their counsel. Then when they go forth from the guiding hand of their parents and teachers, their characters will not be like the reed trembling in the wind.—Testimonies for the Church 3:133 (1872).1MCP 293.1

    The Highest Training Expected—The Lord desires us to obtain all the education possible, with the object in view of imparting our knowledge to others. None can know where or how they may be called to labor or to speak for God. Our heavenly Father alone sees what He can make of men. There are before us possibilities which our feeble faith does not discern. Our minds should be so trained that if necessary we can present the truths of His word before the highest earthly authorities in such a way as to glorify His name. We should not let slip even one opportunity of qualifying ourselves intellectually to work for God.—Christ's Object Lessons, 333, 334 (1900).1MCP 293.2

    The Mind Ever Active—The mind will never cease to be active. It is open to influences, good or bad. As the human countenance is stamped by the sunbeam on the polished plate of the artist, so are thoughts and impressions stamped on the mind of the child; and whether these impressions are of the earth earthy or moral and religious, they are well-nigh ineffaceable.1MCP 293.3

    When reason is awakening, the mind is most susceptible, and so the very first lessons are of great importance. These lessons have a powerful influence in the formation of character. If they are of the right stamp, and if, as the child advances in years, they are followed up with patient perseverance, the earthly and the eternal destiny will be shaped for good. This is the word of the Lord: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).—Special Testimonies On Education, 71, c1897. (Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 143.) 1MCP 293.4

    Youth the Time of Opportunity—The hearts of youth are now like impressible wax, and you may lead them to admire the Christian character; but in a few years the wax may become granite.—The Review and Herald, February 21, 1878. (Fundamentals of Christian Education, 51.)1MCP 294.1

    It is in youth that the affections are most ardent, the memory most retentive, and the heart most susceptible to divine impressions; and it is during youth that the mental and physical powers should be set to the task in order that great improvements may be made in view of the world that now is and that which is to come.—The Youth's Instructor, October 25, 1894. (Sons and Daughters of God, 78.)1MCP 294.2

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