Ever think about what advice you’d give to your younger self? If you could send a letter to yourself when you were, say sixteen, what would you say?
Today (April 5th, 2013) is my fifty-second birthday, so it seems like a good day to have a go at this. (If you really want to get me a gift, we are donation supported!)
- You are not a horrible person. Mistakes don’t make you bad, and you’ll learn a great deal from mistakes when you’re willing. Yes, you have a sin nature, and yes you have done (and will do) some things you think are horrible. However, your desire is to be right with God and to do what is right. Trust what God has done, is doing, and will do in you.
- You are not “God’s blunt instrument” and you were no put on this earth to fix and correct people. Learn to love. Learn to love those you don’t like, and those who drive you crazy. Without love, you can’t do anything for God; with love, anything you do will be a blessing. Defend the weak, the poor, the neglected, and the abused. Stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves and confront bullies on behalf of others.
- You’re not who people have told you you are, nor are you who you currently think you are. God has put many things in your heart and mind, and prayerfully following those is the only way to go. Forget about all the people who say you can’t do things, they’re wrong. You have many gifts you cannot see or imagine now. Know God will move you into new things for your entire life – if you let Him. The only box you should be in is the one God wants you in.
- Much of what you’ve been taught is incomplete, inaccurate, or flat out wrong. This is true of what you have learned about people, about how things work, and about God. Seek truth and you’ll find it. Never stop challenging things; the truth can take it, and lies will fall.
- One of the best things you can have is a small group of mature, trusted friends. Such a group of people can help you avoid pitfalls and help you do the things God has called you to do. Find such people, be brutally honest with them, and hear what they say to you. Trust God to speak to you through others.
- Do less. Leave room in your life for things to just happen. If you pack your life too full you’ll miss many great things, including opportunities to help and bless others.
- You don’t need credit for who you are or what you do. Don’t run from notoriety, but do not chase it or embrace it when it happens. Notoriety usually brings more problems and limits than benefits.
- Getting into debt is exceedingly stupid. Do not EVER borrow ANY money for anything other than a house. (And don’t be in hurry to borrow for a house.)
- Things are not worth as much as you think, and everything comes with a cost. The more you have, the less you are master of your things, and the more they are master of you. If you have less and give more you will be far happier, more content, and far more secure.
- Your home should be many things, but a status symbol is not one of those things. You can be happy in just about any house, just about anywhere. If you’re living where God wants, it’s all good; if you’re not living where God wants, it’s not going to be good.
- Your penis can bring you great pleasure or great anguish, depending on how, when, and with whom you use it. Premarital sex is one of the stupidest things you could do. If you aren’t legally married, anything more than a kiss is playing Russian Roulette with your future sex life – with a fully loaded gun.
- Walking around horny is an exceedingly bad plan. At best, you’ll struggle with temptation needlessly, and odds are good you’ll give in to lust or worse. BTW, this is true even after you marry; if she’s unavailable, unable, or unwilling, taking care of it yourself while you think of her is both right and beneficial to your marriage. Please know doing it yourself will not “let her off the hook” and mean she gives you less sex. On the contrary, it will make you less grumpy about sex and her less uptight about sex, and both of those will mean more sex.
- Sex is both more and less than you think it is. Done right, with a wife you love deeply, it is better than anything you can imagine. However, good sex only happens in a great relationship. If you want better sex, put at least 95% of your effort into non-sexual aspects of your marriage.
Note: This list is based on me, and who I was at 16, so it doesn’t have some things I would tell most young men. For example, I was free of porn by 16, so it doesn’t make this list.