I have been pondering the message we are to take away from the account of this observant Jewish family when their son, twelve-year-old Jesus, attempted to enter manhood prematurely.
His mother said to Him, "Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously." And He said to them, "Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business?" But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them.
Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. Luke 2:48-52
I think it is important that we see that it was the mother of Jesus that reprimanded him, in solidarity with Jesus' father. Does Jesus' submission to her will not indicate that a young man is still to submit to the teaching of his mother? I can find no reference to Jesus indicating that women had no authority to teach men. I think it's also important to realize that Jesus' parents were submitting to the authority of their spiritual community, to which Jesus returned with his mother and father.
Even though Jesus was obviously a learned young man, we don't see him in a leadership role until he is in his thirties. Did Jesus spent the intervening years in scholarly study, along with his submission to the leadership of his parents? In faithful families, is this the model that is to be followed? Are our future leaders to submit to the authority of their spiritual parents while they are amassing the knowledge and wisdom that will, one day, become the authority to lead?
Are we, as parents, taking our roles as spiritual leaders seriously enough? Do we go after our children with a united front when they seek to join the ranks of the leaders before they are ready? Do we teach them by our examples how to live the lives that our faith demands of us? Or, do we tire of the rigors of our responsibility and leave them to the wiles of those who would allow them to prematurely carry an adult load?
How do we know when they are ready to be let go?