Recently, I was asked by a friend to write a letter addressed to their son. He and his wife were looking to celebrate his sixteenth birthday by showering him with words of blessing and intentionality as he begins his ascent to adulthood. They decided to invite friends and family to submit personal letters that would call out God's best in his life by collecting and reading them as part of the birthday celebration and a keepsake. As I prayed and put my hands on the keyboard for this young man, the following words came to mind. I hope you or a loved one might be inspired or encouraged by my letter to a special sixteen year old.
Congratulations on turning 16. This is a special time in your life and definitely worth celebrating!!! These next few years could be the most fun and exciting as you begin grow and mature into the man God made you to be and your parents have already seen emerging. As you put into practice the beliefs and convictions already in your heart, you will find yourself building a strong foundation for the rest of your life. As you look to Him, I believe God will show you His best for your life.
Here are words of encouragement that I hope will be helpful at different points in your journey. These are thoughts and ideas that I have put together from my own teen years and from the raising of my three boys. I hope they are worthy of your consideration.
“Don’t be surprised when your parents fight FOR you and even fight YOU for you.”
Be mindful that your parents and other adults will always contend for God’s best in your life (even when you can’t see it or don’t want their help). They are a powerful force that you get to decide if they will be working FOR you or against you. Are you going to spend time and energy fighting them or working with them? Look for their love to show up even when it is uncomfortable.
“With Privilege Comes Responsibility.”
Your parents love for you is freely given and more durable than you think (even when you are at your worst). Trust is also given, but can be easily lost. If you choose to practice truthfulness with them, you will find they can open the world to you with their influence and blessing. If you take shortcuts or take advantage of their trust, you may find yourself fighting the one force on the planet that is constantly on your team, in your stands, and contending for your best all throughout your life. Here are three keys that I believe build trust and will enable them to open up of greater levels blessing and opportunity for you… Communication, Honor and Honesty. How you handle these will lead to limitation or freedom. Choose freedom!
“Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.”
You will find plenty of people who will give themselves permission to participate in almost anything under the sun. I encourage you to learn to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit for direction in your life. This voice may ask you to lay something down, let something go, give something away or ask you to practice restraint even when everyone else seems to indulge. If you let Him guide you in the small things, you may find yourself pleasantly surprised how His guidance will show up in the big things. Don’t be afraid to go against the flow, my young friend!
“Be Kind to the 30 Year-Old YOU.”
As you consider the choices you will face in your teens and twenties, I encourage you to consider what your 30-year-old self might say about the decisions you make in the coming years. Will the 30-year-old-you be proud and grateful? Will your choices leave you with baggage or blessing? Will the testimony of your life leave a trail of good or bad consequences for your children to follow? This includes, but is not limited to who you love, how you live and what motivates your vocational pursuits. Aim high, your future spouse and children will be grateful!
In closing, I want to offer a personal prayer that I believe God continues to answer in my life. It is a prayer that continues to seek God’s Discernment, Wisdom and Favor in all my adventures with Him. As you look to honor God, others and yourself with the choices you make in the years ahead, may you continually look for, contend for, and expect the following guidance…
Discernment – With the help of the Holy Spirit, may you have a timely sense of what God is up to and where He is at work in your life and the world around you.
Wisdom - With the help of the Holy Spirit, may you come to know what you are supposed to do or not do? Is it a time to fight, sacrifice, serve, contend, listen, wait, get counsel, pray, move to action or show restraint?
Favor - With the help of the Holy Spirit, may you come to know and expect the Supernatural Favor of God. May your faith grow in the fact that He can and will do miracles on your behalf when you trust the currency that feeds the economy of God’s Kingdom. And may He open doors that seem no man is able to open and may He close the doors that are simply not good for you to enter.
I wish you all the best!