It just occurred to me that there was another conversation at that graduation party (I blogged about MySpace recently because of one conversation there) that was a trifle opinionated on both sides...this time regarding paint ball. Well, I don't have any teenage sons, so I haven't resisted it firsthand. I also think it's good for guys to get out and have fun together. Still...
There was one woman there whose sons were into paintball, and she asked me what I thought of it. Well, she did ask...and she knows me, so she knows I'll tell her truthfully. Without hesitation I told her I thought it was a waste of money and time. Well, okay, many things of that sort are okay in moderation, but do you know many guys who do paintball in moderation? I don't. I know guys who have jobs chiefly to support their paintball habit; that gives me an inkling of how predominant it is in their lives.
I see our neighbor boys, it seems constantly (maybe that's an overestimation, but it's all I ever see them doing) playing airsoft-pellet-gun games. Fine now and then and for a while, but when it's hours and hours every day it seems like overkill. These kids are getting to an age where responsibility and usefulness are good things to learn.
What is a better alternative? Well, helping their parents for one thing. Washing vehicles, vacuuming them out, sweeping the walks, mowing and fertilizing the yard, washing windows, doing home repairs.
They could be reading books: not useless or evil books, but biographies and instructional books, books on self-development, spiritual growth...many kinds of books are out there that are useful for boys' reading. There are many biographies of many fantastic Christian men who were by no means wimps, and whose lives were inspiring, amazing and adventurous. There are biographies of non-Christians even that are worth the read.
For that matter, how about serving others? Helping in the church, helping widows, watching people's kids or pets or doing lawn jobs around the neighborhood for profit or simply for the benefit of others--imagine how transformed our world would be if teens considered the world around them and the viewpoint and needs of others rather than their own self-gratification. No need to consider summer a boring set of days to be filled with playing games until companions have to go home, but befriending all ages of people around who have lost the vision of seeing anyone consider their needs as important.
Some of the purpose in having a child or teen use his time wisely is for the benefit of the moment; but there is also the matter of preparation for the future. What kind of men are we making? What kind of adults do we expect to result from those who spent their childhood in frivolous activities? How well will they prepared for the onslaught of responsibility that comes with adulthood, marriage, and parenthood?
Still, teen boys are just one segment of the population, and paintball is just one way of spending time. Any sort of recreation belongs only in its proper place...whether shopping or basketball or embroidery--or blogging. If it keeps a person busy such that there is nothing significant to show for the bulk of the time available, nothing of service to family, church, friends, or neighbors, then I don't see how a person can justify that use of time.
Yes, paintball--or any recreation--may be fun, and it surely has its place for rejuvenating a person after a period of work. Still, I think in our society, recreation is vastly overrated, taken for granted, and out of proportion with better uses of time in service to others. Teen boys, and their parents, will have to account to God for those stewardship decisions made now.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4