I am a father and a grandfather, and believe it or not, I was once a youth. I have experienced growing up from two vantage points: 1) from that of a youth, and 2) from a loving and concerned father. Thus, from my experiences of growing up, and from my experiences of seeing my children grow into adulthood, I have six valuable pieces of advice that I pray our youth of today will consider seriously as they grow into maturity.
Choose your friends wisely. It is my belief that the choosing of friends is one of the most critical areas in a young person’s life. Whom we choose to associate with will have an enormous and lasting impact on our lives. This is why Paul said, “Do not be deceived: Evil company corrupt good habits” (1 Corinthians 15:33; NKJ). In like manner, Solomon declared, “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed” (Proverbs 13:20). Solomon wished that his son would “walk in the way of good men, and keep the paths of the righteous” (Proverbs 2:20). Precious young people, you need to choose friends who will help you get to heaven—not hinder you. Something is wrong when our best friends are people of the world. Should not our best friends be those of “like precious faith” (2 Peter 1:1)?
Listen carefully and honestly to your parents. Believe it or not, our parents have a great deal of wisdom. It may come as a shock to many youth, but parents were once young as well. Parents remember what it was like to have to deal with the issues of growing up. I know that many things have seemed to change, but in reality, only the cover has changed—underneath the cover the issues are the same. The issues of modesty, premarital sex, substance abuse, peer pressure, popularity, “keeping up with the Jones,” and the like, are basic difficulties in every generation. So young people, listen carefully to the advice and wisdom of your parents. “A wise son heareth his father’s instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke” (Proverbs 13:1). “My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh” (Proverb 4:20-22).
Marry a Christian. A crucial mistake that too many young people make is marrying someone who is not a Christian. When we are dating and looking for our soul mate, we need to be looking for someone who will help us go to heaven. Sometimes this is difficult when you are in a smaller congregation with few of your age from which to choose. This is why I believe it is important for Christian young people from various congregations to spend time with each other. Time can be spent together in summer Bible camp, Summer Youth Series, Bible Bowl, and various other kinds of youth gatherings. Young people, you do not need to be in a hurry to date or get married—there is plenty of time. Be sure you make your choice looking toward eternity and not the here and now. “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14).
Be a student of God’s word. Of the youthful Timothy it was said, “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15). One of the reasons that our youth make the wrong choices in life is they are spiritually uninformed. Parents play a major role in the instructing of their children, but the youth of God must also take personal responsibility for learning the word of God. Making good grades in school is important—but learning the word of God is much more important. Knowledge of math or chemistry will not help you make good moral decisions and will not prepare you for heaven. Remember these words of inspiration, “I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me” (Proverbs 8:17).
Be a leader—not a follower. Another fatal mistake that many young people make is following and not leading. “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). Instead of following their peers away from the Lord, our youth must be leading their peers to the Lord. Be a trendsetter! Be a good example! Help your friends by leading them to Christ.
Remember the law of the harvest. The apostle Paul declared, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting” (Galatians 6:7-8). One cannot avoid the law of the harvest. Many young people have made horrible mistakes in their life, and were forgiven of their sins, but they still had consequences to endure—and some for the rest of their life. Be very careful with every decision you make knowing that each choice we make has consequences. Choose carefully and wisely.
This father deeply loves his children, grandchildren, and all young people, and prays they will heed his words of advice!
“A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and sings it back to you when you have forgotten how it goes.”