Jessica Watson’s solo world voyage was a remarkable success, especially considering her young age. Sixteen year-old Jessica sailed non-stop for over 200 days and 20,000 nautical miles. Prior to this journey, she had already gained over 10,000 miles of sailing experience.

Jessica’s ambition and abilities are unusual, compared to most teens. Still, her achievement has reminded the world that teens can do hard things.

This is refreshing, because our society seems to lower the bar of expectations for young people.

Consider the average marrying age for Australians. The average woman marries at age 29. The average Aussie male marries at around age 30. The marrying age has continually increased since the seventies. Demographer Bernard Salt describes the difference:

“The perception of what is acceptable has changed completely. In 1971 it was marriage at 21, kids at 23, a three-bedroom brick veneer out in the ‘burbs and a husband who works. That was utopia and it was important in those days to get the sequences right,” he suggests.

“These days the sequence doesn’t really matter. Then, if you were 25 and a woman and not married you were on the shelf. Now, if you get married at 21 you’re a loser.”

Look at the normal process for obtaining a driver’s license. Teenage drivers in NSW must use a restricted license for at least four years, progressing through L-plates, then red P’s, then green P’s. Only then are they eligible for a full license. Why is this process so extensive? One reason is the recklessness of some young drivers.

Driving responsibly is hard (apparently!). Financially supporting yourself is hard. Marriage is hard. Being a mature follower of Jesus is hard.

None of these should be faced casually.

But we do not grow up by deferring these goals indefinitely.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James chapter 1, verses 2-4

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About Ben Kwok

Ben is part of a church plant team establishing the Rouse Hill Church. He holds a Master of Divinity degree. Ben and his wife Diahanna live in Sydney, Australia with their four young children.


  1. Robert 26 May, 2010 at 7:00 am - Reply

    well said Ben, esp the point about low expectations for young people. they are capable of more than they think (and we think too).

  2. Jason Harris 7 June, 2010 at 10:32 pm - Reply

    Yeah, I think we tend to do this in our churches as well. We expect very little of the young people. I think we hurt them when we do that.

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