What Advice Would You Give an 18-Year-Old?
Kevin EastKevin East is the President of the Boys & Girls Clubs of East Texas. He formerly served Pine Cove Camps as their Executive Director of Ministries. He writes at his blog, "Following to Lead". Connect with him on Twitter @kevinteast.
- 2012 Mar 27
Have you ever been given the opportunity to do something great, yet you totally came up short? This past week I did just that. A friend of mine's son was turning 18, and I was asked to be one of 18 men that would write him a letter giving any advice I wish someone would have given me when I turned 18. I wrote the letter, but it stunk.
Think about it. ANY advice. I had the opportunity to really make a mark on this man. I could share with him the battles that I went through, and the truth I learned from it. I could have gotten downright honest with him, writing as if I was staring straight in his eyes, warning him of the danger ahead. Instead, I chose to write this really lame note.
Austin, Well it's about time you turned 18. Your body beat you to it a few years ago. Now instead of being that really tall 16-year-old, it's time your age helps validate your physical stature. Now, as you would expect, I'd like to mention something to you that goes far deeper than physical appearance. Maturity. This is something that our culture doesn't consider valuable. In fact, our culture actually devalues it. We hold high the slappy guys that want to play video games their entire life. People label "cool" those people that don't honor commitments, and bounce from responsibility to responsibility. There are countless movies and TV shows that highlight boys living in an eternal place of youthfulness. God is clear, through the words of Paul, on his thoughts toward it. "When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways." I Corinthians 13:11 ESV Austin, giving up childish ways is not a one-time event. It's not something you do when you turn 16, 18 or 21. It is something you consistently choose to do. Why? Because God values maturity. So you are turning a new number today. But today, tomorrow, next week and next year, you will be faced with decisions that will reveal which you value: youthfulness or maturity. I wish someone would have told me when I was young that one day I would have to choose to love my wife. It would have been nice to know that I wouldn't always want to hang out with my kids. Again, it would have been nice to know that I wouldn't always want to go to work. I choose to do these things because I recognize as a Godly man, God wants me to do them. I am so proud of the man you have become, Austin. It seems like the stories are piling up of how you are choosing to honor God with your life, love those around you, and offer your strength to those weaker. This is what God has called us -- as men -- to do. I'm eager to watch how God uses such a mighty tool in His hand. Saying yes to maturity,
Looking back over this letter, I think it is so lame. What I say is true, but is the best of what I would love to tell this young man? I mean, if I wish someone would have told me one thing when I was 18, would it be to value maturity?
I now realize why multiple letters in Scripture contain more than one (I and II Timothy, I and II Peter, etc.). It's because the author realized he had much more to say. I say that tongue-in-cheek. I understand all of scripture is God's and is there for a reason. However, I am now compiling my second letter to Austin, and I'll give it to him later this week. I'll post my updated letter tomorrow.
So what do you wish someone would have told you when you were turning 18?
For more blog posts like this on leading, following, parenting, fostering, and family, visit Kevin's blog at www.followingtolead.com.