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Note: I wrote a letter to a former student in my youth group that was graduating from high school. He had been with me for a number of years. It was exciting for me to see him reach this step in his life.

In this letter, I listed a few things that I have learned and that I thought would benefit him. I think these are things that all of us can learn from, especially young people. So I am taking some excerpts from this letter and sharing it with you.

I wanted to make a list of things I think you need to know for the future. This isn't a definitive list, but at least it's a good start. You may have heard these before, but please try to approach them with an open heart and mind.

These are things I've learned over a lifetime twice as long as yours (Yes, I'm old!). And I've learned most of them the hard way. I am writing them down for you in the hopes that you won't have to do the same. So... here goes:
  1. Put God first.
    I know this sounds like "the preacher thing" to say, but it is absolutely the key to the good life. Without Jesus as your center, you'll never be satisfied, even with the best the world has to offer. With Jesus as your center, you can feel fulfilled even if you have nothing.

    But aren't you glad the Bible teaches that a life in constant pursuit of God is the blessed life? (Matt. 6:33). C.S. Lewis put it this way: "If you live for the next world, you get this one in the deal; but if you live only for this world, you lose them both!"
  2. Don't reduce the wonder of a personal relationship with the God of creation to a list of do's and don'ts.
    This is so easy for those of us who've grown up in church to do. We get so used to trying to do the right things that doing right things becomes the goal of our Christian life, instead of developing our relationship with God.

    This takes all the fun and excitement out of serving God. Besides, developing our relationship with God is the easiest way to end up doing the right things (Col. 2:20-3:3).
  3. Take responsibility for yourself and your actions.
    It seems easier in the short run to blame others for our mistakes. But the path to true manhood and godliness is one of personal responsibility. And along with that, always keep your word (see Ps. 15:1-4).

    For what it's worth, making excuses costs you more in the long run. Ben Franklin said it best: "He that is good at making excuses is rarely good at anything else."
  4. Develop your own identity.
    A better way to rephrase this is to develop your God-given identity. Find out why you were created and what you were created for and then throw yourself into completing God's mission for you.
    Without a clear-cut sense of your purpose in life, you'll always be susceptible to the whim of others...which brings me to my next point:
  5. Watch out who you allow to influence you.
    Many people can't attract a crowd of their own, so they do the next best thing... they find someone who can (someone with talent) and use them to further their own purposes.

    You see this in the music industry all the time. It's true in business, friendship and life...even in ministry.
  6. Be willing to be interrupted.
    From time to time God will bring people across your path that are "God appointments." Each of these divine appointments is as much for your benefit as for theirs.

    Some of Jesus' greatest miracles were the result of divine interruptions. This is why it's so important to spend time with God every morning. And each of these appointments will be important to your future.
  7. Never lose your sense of wonder.
    Every now and then, take time to smell the roses, observe children playing, watch the clouds, or just take a long walk in a park. God created all these things for us to enjoy.

    Life is too short to not be enjoyed. Don't allow yourself to be so overscheduled and overextended that you can't relax, enjoy and celebrate.
  8. Never quit learning.
    In order to do this you must be teachable. Being teachable means that we are open to learn from anything and anyone.

    From some we learn what not to do, but we're still always learning. When you stop learning, you stop growing. And when you stop growing, you start dying.
  9. Don't take shortcuts.
    Don't allow yourself to settle for anything less than God's best in your life. Even Jesus was offered a shortcut to the fulfillment of His dreams. (Matt. 4:8-9) But He stayed faithful to the course God had laid out for Him. Shortcuts always end up taking longer!
  10. Never give up!
    This one is the dream stealer! History is full of people who almost accomplished great things. But the people that are remembered stuck through to the end and saw the fulfillment of their dreams!

    The Bible says that there is a time of sowing (with tears) and of reaping (with joy). Between these is patient waiting.

    It took Abraham 25 years to see the fulfillment of his dreams. Joseph had to wait 22 years. But in each case, the fulfillment of the dream was worth waiting for. As a matter of fact, often the longer you have to wait, the greater the reward is.
I hope these thoughts have been beneficial to you. I pray that you will take them to heart and allow God to further develop them in your heart and life.

Until we see each other again, Carpe Diem!

Copyright © Perrin Ministries
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Author Biography

Jon Perrin
Web site: Perrin Ministries
Jon and Robin Perrin met at Bible school. They have over 25 years of ministry experience. Besides their family, their greatest passion is empowering leaders and mobilizing churches to reach the unchurched.

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