Expectations have changed over the years. Gone are the days when boys could be beaten into meek subservience. Now we know that boys are restlessly physical, perpetual motion personified, unsuited to long hours spent at a desk. Having had their rambunctiousness recognized, now they reflect rambunctiousness unrestrained. What's the point of trying to tie them down? Boys will be boys.
But is there a better way? It has become trendy to ask "What would Jesus do?" as a guide to how we should live. That may lead to a rather speculative approach in lots of areas. But we are on solid grounds when we consider what Jesus actually did. What the Bible tells us that he really did is intended to be a guide for us. And one of the areas in which the Bible tells us what Jesus did relates to his childhood. He was once a boy. What did Jesus do?
We say we want to be like Jesus. Surely this implies we want our children to be like Jesus too. They must be like him in his childhood years just as we should emulate him in his adult year. Boys will be boys. Christian boys will be boys like Jesus.
The only glimpse we get of what a perfect boy looks like is in Luke's account of Jesus as a twelve year old. What is staggering is that we see him sitting and listening (Luke 2:46). So boys can sit and listen! Boys who are boys like Jesus will sit and listen! Anything less is sub-normal boyhood, for Jesus redefined the norm for human beings, including boys. In Adam, boys bounce off the walls; in Christ boys can sit and listen.
By implication we may assume that this is not the only learning environment in which Jesus thrived, though it is the only one we are explicitly told about, and it is important for that reason. The Holy Spirit could have described other scenes if that would have been helpful. Presumably Jesus' apprenticeship as a carpenter involved him in physical, manual activities rather than just sitting at a desk. But what we know for certain is that when it was appropriate he could sit and listen. And to settle for anything less of Christian boys is to fly in the face of our commitment to be Christ-like in all of life. Boys will be boys. By God's grace, Christian boys will be boys like Jesus.