Not long ago I was asked to write a letter of advice for a friend’s teenage son. After I wrote the letter I realized that pretty much everything I put down on the paper was useful for adults too! Below is the main points of my letter with personal refrences removed.
Happy birthday! It’s hard to believe you are already a teenager. With age comes responsibility and decisions that can determine the course of your life. I want to share with you a few observations about life that have been helpful to me and I hope you will also find useful.
Everything in this world can fail you, people, health, government, technology but God never will. He loves you and when all else fails He is there. Make the pursuit of knowing and understanding God the main pursuit in your life. Take time in private to talk with Him every day. Bring every problem to Him no matter how small it seems. Learn to love Him and develop within yourself a passion for Him.
Learn to respect your parents. Never respond to them harshly. They may not always be right, they may not always please you but if you have a respectful kind and willing attitude toward them it can change the world. In the long run you will be blessed and they will too! Learn to ask forgiveness quickly from your family and learn to give forgiveness quickly when asked. Do not allow yourself to become bitter towards your family otherwise that bitterness will pour over into other areas of your life.
Consider the church your extended family. Be regular and be active. Come early and stay late. Find a place to serve and do it with all your heart. Share your struggles with others in the church and allow them to pray for you. Be involved in Bible studies and make sure you apply God’s Word to your own heart before you try to help others apply it.
At this stage in your life those people that you allow to be close to you determine much of the rest of the course of you life. Whether you like it or not your friends have a big influence on you. Your closets friends ought to be people that you can admire, they ought to be people that challenge you and encourage you in your walk with God. Find friends who will pray for you and pray with you. Find friends who are more concerned about doing the right thing then they are about how their hair looks or what style of clothes they are wearing. Find friends who will help you when there is a need.
Avoid people that like to tell rude jokes, make fun of others, look for ways to get out of work, tend to be dishonest, like to criticize others, disrespect parents/teachers/authority and always seem to have a ulterior motivation. Don’t let these people into your circle of close friends, they will only bring you down.
The physical and emotional attraction you may feel towards a girl can be extremely strong, which is exactly why you need to make a commitment to keep yourself pure and treat all girls as sisters. It’s good to enjoy friendships with girls in a group setting but it’s not wise to spend time alone with a girl. The temptation is far to great and there is a great chance that it will result in something that you can’t take back.
Instead of looking for a girlfriend you ought to focus on your own spiritual development. Make sure that you are turning into a godly and respectable man who is worthy of being a husband to a godly woman. Once you are old enough to marry make sure you look beyond the outward beauty. Find a woman who has spiritual qualities. Read Proverbs 31, it was written to a young man who was searching for a wife.
Your mind is a gift from God so don’t feed it trash. Stay healthy by discipling your mind, reading the bible, prayer and reading good books. Don’t waste your time watching tv and browsing the internet all day, generally speaking those things degrade our minds rather than strengthening them.
Stay as far away from pornography as possible. It is addictive, it is deceptive and it will never ever satisfy you! Instead focus your mind on learning God’s Word and learning skills that will be helpful to you and others in the future. Don’t just avoid pornography, replace it with all that is good and healthy for your mind.
Respect your body and stay healthy. Eat a healthy well balanced diet and exercise regularly. This will help you to maintain discipline in your life and to ensure that you are healthy and able to work and serve others. Sport is good but it is not God so use sport to honor God in your life but never make it the top priority.
Focus on the needs of others around you and how you can help them. This will keep you from getting to focused on your own problems and feeling bad for yourself. Like Jesus learn to become a servant of others. Learn to identify needs and find ways to help.
Don’t let tv commercials and bill boards tell you what you need to buy. In reality there is very little that you “need” so don’t waste your money on name brands and the newest technology. Avoid the temptation of letting money or things rule over you. Rather, learn to save. It is much much easier to learn to start saving now than later on in life. Don’t try to become rich, if that is your goal you will only be disappointed. Instead, learn to work hard and be industrious, be the best at whatever it is you do and let God provide for you needs.
I want to leave you with one piece of advice that I have found very valuable in my life. Read at least one chapter from the book of Proverbs every day. You will find much wisdom and advice for life there.
Blessings on your birthday!
So what advice would you share? Is there something I missed? Let me know in the comments below.