There are many things I wish someone would have told me when I turned 18. As I shared in a previous post, I was given the opportunity to write a young man a letter recently, passing any wisdom to this young man that I thought would be appropriate. I did, but I felt that my letter came up short. It did because it barely scratched the surface of what I wish someone would have told me.
For this reason, I have written another letter. Although it is addressed to one man, it would be what I would tell any young man entering college.
I was honored to write you a letter this past week. However, thinking back over what I said, I think I came up terribly short. As usual, I could always blame the brevity of my note to the fact I am busy, that I have a large family, or that my responsibilities with work were getting the best of me. The problem is, if I said that, I'd be just like most other men in America; making excuses for coming up short.
The truth is, I was more concerned with sounding good than saying something good. Austin, I believe in you too much to simply tell you to choose maturity throughout life. In the next few years, you will go through such a shaping season of your life. I have watched good men make decisions during this time that would alter their life dramatically.
Pornography kills marriages. Austin, this is serious. I've sat across many tables with college guys in tears because they were addicted to looking at naked women on computer screens. They knew they hated looking at it, but sin's web was tightly constricting them. Remember that this isn't just about keeping your eyes pure. It is also about not setting your wife up to fail. What these guys look at on computers is not real. It is a sick fantasy. The producers of porn take air-brushed, plastic women, and have them act like they have the sex drive of men.
Men arrive in marriage with unreal expectations, and the damage done takes years to unravel.
Men need friends. You need good, solid guys that can lock arms with you and walk life next to you. In college many guys start living life "around" other guys, but never with them. Austin, find some guys that want to honor God with their lives. Seek to know them, and allow them to know you. As you get older, this becomes even more difficult, so learn early how critical this really is.
God's grace is deep. Some of my most profound realizations about the goodness of God came while I was in college. Growing up, I didn't have the slightest desire to read books. Given the decision, I would have picked doing something outside fun and active as opposed to reading. Yet, after I became a Christian, this changed.
Take advantage of your college years to dive deep in God's Word. Study it. Reflect on it. Memorize it. Ask someone to teach it to you. Austin, you are a good man, raised in a great family. Yet, you have so much to learn about the depths of the riches of God's love. Don't miss this opportunity.
Don't focus so much on your grades that you miss an education. Austin, I know you have a 4.0 right now. That is great. I had that as well until my first conduct grades in 1st grade. It was all downhill from there. As you go through college, studying hard and trying to excel is important, but don't put in on a throne it didn't belong.
Take advantage of opportunities to "cut your teeth" leading. Go on mission trips where you can learn that God doesn't just speak English. Look at other cultures to understand what real poverty looks like. When you finish college, all these experiences will have shaped you.
Above all else. This is a chapter title from the book Spiritual Leadership. In this chapter, he talks about the need for leadership that is Spirit-led. Austin, this world needs men who are under the authority of the Lord Jesus. Be purposeful in stopping to place your heart under His. Great leadership doesn't come from "technique-ing" people. It comes from wisdom and discernment that is God-given. So go to Him, and ask. He'll give it.
As I told you in my first letter, I believe in you, Austin. I look forward to watching God's shaping hand on your life. Come sit on my porch anytime if you'd like to discuss this further.
Walk in great grace, and speak with great power (Acts 4:33),
Now I think I can sleep better knowing I got that off my chest. Is there anything you would add in giving advice to young men?
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About Kevin East
Kevin East is the Executive Director of Family Matters. He and his wife Stephanie have five unbelievable kids, two of which they most recently adopted. If Kevin isn't busy with work or family, you'll probably find him in the woods near his house with a power tool. He writes at his blog, "Following to Lead". Connect with him on Twitter at @kevinteast.
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