I came to Christ 25 years ago this year, which was my sophomore year of college. At the time, I was astonished that God would save someone who had run so far away from him. I also had much to learn, but no one could tell me that.
Recently I was thinking about what I wish I could go back and tell my younger self not long after I came to Christ. Following this advice would not have assured me a life without trouble, but it would have saved me a lot of self-inflicted wounds.
My prayer is that you’ll find my advice to my younger self helpful and encouraging. Maybe it will save you from some frustration and foolishness too.
- You are never too busy to pray. In fact, the busier you are, the more you need to pray.
- Read your Bible every day and try to do it early in the morning. You need God’s word like you need food and water. The longer you wait in the day, the more excuses you will find not to do it. Get up early and read the Bible. You will never regret it.
- You’re amazed at the grace you received. Never stop being amazed.
- Listen patiently to people who disagree with you. It shows respect to them, you’ll learn a lot along the way, and you may realize that you were wrong to begin with.
- You cannot measure your spiritual growth day to day. You measure it based on months, years, and decades. Stop trying to take your spiritual temperature every single day.
- You will never accomplish anything of lasting value by losing your temper. Losing your temper will always cause damage that you will need to apologize for, and it never fixes anything.
- Visit your grandparents more often and write their stories down. A day is coming when you will wish that you could remember them.
- You’re going to run into some big expenses in life. Save a little for these expenses every month, and you won’t be in such a tight spot when they appear.
- No one wants to hear about how tired or busy you are. They are tired and busy too.
- Some people are not going to like you. This can’t make you bitter, and you can’t try to change them or yourself. Trust that you have God’s approval in Christ, and this is all you need.
- When you attend a new church, look for evidence of God’s grace there. Listen to the sermon to be encouraged and sing the songs to worship Jesus. The music may not be the greatest, and the sermon may lack some of what it needs, but there will be something there that will help you grow.
- When you are wrong, apologize quickly. When you do, don’t offer excuses or try to minimize your behavior. Admit that you are wrong and ask for forgiveness.
- Stop procrastinating. If a task can be completed in under two minutes, do it now. If it is unpleasant and causing you misery, do it as soon as possible so you will be done with it. For important tasks, schedule them and keep them like an appointment.
- Learn how to say no. People will not always understand, but it will be important for your mental and spiritual health.
- Take God seriously, but don’t take yourself seriously. Be serious about your growth in the faith but learn how to laugh at yourself.
- Don’t let your hobbies slide. Keep doing the things that you enjoy. You will need a break from the grind of work and family responsibility.
- Find a good local church and get involved in ways that don’t involve teaching a class. Serve in the nursery, greet people at the door, invite new couples out for lunch, sit with people who are by themselves, and say something to encourage your pastor every week.
- Sit down with your older relatives and ask them to tell you stories. Write down as many of them as possible, or record them if possible. One day you will get really interested in your family history, and the people who lived through it won’t be with you anymore.
- Serve your community. Volunteer somewhere, get involved in civic groups and discover the areas of your community that need help.
They say hindsight is 20/20, so it is easy to look back and see the blind spots we missed in our younger years. What’s harder is seeing our flaws and blind spots now. We pray for eyes to see where we fall short so we can repent and grow, but we still miss a lot.
If the Lord allows me to see the age of 70, I am sure I will have a lot of advice for my 45-year-old self.
The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Christian Headlines.
Photo courtesy: Tim Marshall/Unsplash
Scott Slayton writes at “One Degree to Another.”