I’m 44. I’ve lived for 16,170 days as of today as I’m writing. I suppose you could say I’ve been around the block once or twice. More than likely I’m past the half-time show and I’m into the third quarter.
Along the way I’ve experienced many highs and a good number of lows. Each one has molded my character and the Lord has used it to grow my faith and my devotion to him. It’s no stretch to say that I’m much more committed to a relationship with God than I ever have been.
But what if the 44 year old me could go back and give the 17 year old me 5 pieces of advice. What would they be? Well here they are. My top 5. I’d love to hear what yours would be. Share on Facebook or in the comments section below.
1. Don’t take yourself so seriously. I mean seriously, don’t be so wrapped up in yourself. What other people will think of you doesn’t matter one bit. Don’t let others control how you act, how you talk and more importantly how you love God.
Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. 1 Tim 4:12
2. Pleasing God is less about doing and more about loving. I grew up in a system that places the highest priority on being right. On acting right. On talking right. All of those things are important for sure but none of them will make God love us more.
Loving God and building a deep personal relationship with him is the highest priority in our lives. The rest will sort itself out. Don’t stress over how perfect you need to be and fall in love with Jesus! He’ll transform your life from the inside out.
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” John 14:15
3. Accept all believers no matter their views on doctrine. Spiritual pride can be very subtle. An over emphasized focus on what you know will create a skewed view of others. The reality is that God cares more about how you reflect his character than he does about what you know.
The walls that were built around me kept me from other believers that not only loved God far more than many of the people I knew but loved him intimately. Division and exclusive thinking is not God’s thinking. It’s man’s way to control their territory and keep things neat and tidy.
And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. Colossians 3:4
4. God is personal and reveals himself to all believers. This is something that was taught to me from a very young age. The problem was that I rarely saw examples of this in the lives of others. Even as I reached my teenage years the role models that pointed to the greatness of God in a person’s life I read in books.
My parents were just a few of the people that showed me the personal influence of God and because of that my faith in God was strong. On the other hand I had no idea how to make God “my own”. The focus was mostly on the external not on the internal. I believed with my head that God could reveal himself to me but I had never experienced it happening. This played a large role in how my life progressed into adulthood.
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. John 16:13
5. Pay more attention to the Holy Spirit. This is possibly the point that strikes home to me personally. The Holy Spirit was rarely talked about with any depth. I knew who he was and what his roles were but I had no idea how we worked practically in my life. I had no idea what I was supposed to experience and there was a sense of fear that things would get “carried away”.
Because of that fear, references to the Holy Spirit were kept to a minimum and times I brought him up I was met with much caution and reservation. The reality is that the Holy Spirit is not only vital to the growth of the believer he is vital to the power of God working in us. Without his work we can have no power at all. I’ve only begun to understand and more specifically experience the work of the Holy Spirit in the last 10 years.
… that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being … Ephesians 3:16
There are many other things I would love to tell my 17 year old self but I can’t. I can however put all of these things into practice as a 44 year old. And I can keep learning. Keep growing. Keep loving God more.