Graduation time is quickly approaching. As a youth pastor, this is a special time for me when I get to celebrate with my students who are heading off to college. This is such an important time for them because these young men and women are moving off to college, and they will decide who they are. Will they follow in the teachings of Christ, or will they chase after the things of this world? It caused me to look back upon my time as a young adult, and I decided to write a letter back to my 18-year-old self. Hopefully this will be helpful for some students as their high school days draw to a close.
I know you’re excited right now because graduation is quickly approaching. But take a minute to read this letter. It’ll help you over the next six years as you pursue your Bachelor’s degree. Yeah, that’s right. You take the six-year route for your four-year degree.
I want to start by encouraging you to share the gospel with your classmates.
My Our 10-year class reunion is coming up next year, and I’ve probably only seen a handful of classmates since graduating from Loyd Star. I know the idea of sharing the gospel with them makes you break out in a sweat, but, like Timothy, God has given you “a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control (2 Tim. 1:7).” Boldly sharing the Good News may cost you a few friendships, but it’s the most loving thing to do.
Secondly, there’s a sin in your life that you’re blinded to. Actually, there are many of them, but I’ll just mention this one because it’s particularly strong in your life. You’re treating sports as an idol. Sure, you’re very involved with the student ministry and everything, but you’re finding your ultimate satisfaction and worth in baseball and soccer. Those things are fleeting, Cody. Jesus is the One who defines you, not your athletic prowess. He is worthy of worship, not some game. Sports are a good gift from God. Even in college you’re able to form some good relationships through sports, but you also struggle with idolatry. Use these as a way to glorify God, not yourself.
Next, you’re going to think through some serious theological issues over the next year. Right now, you think the idea of God’s sovereignty in salvation is a bit ridiculous. But you’re going to change your mind about that soon. I’ll give you a heads up: you’ll never fully understand how God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility co-exist, but they do. The fact that God is sovereign in all things should be a major encouragement to you, especially in preaching the gospel. You can trust in the fact that God is working through the Word even when you do a poor job of communicating it.
On a related note, you’re about to become very interested in studying theology, and then you’re going to become a jerk because you think you have everything figured out. You’ll think about starting a church because your church “just doesn’t understand.” That’s a sign of immaturity on your part. Be thankful for your church family at Mt. Zion. They patiently and lovingly encourage you along the path of life, even when you’re being a bit of an arrogant jerk. Also, realize that theology should lead to love for God and a humble spirit, not arrogance. Be on the look out for that.
One last thing: be thankful that you’re going to stay at a two-year college for three years. In your third year, you’ll meet a cute blonde-headed girl. She’s much more than you deserve, but take a chance at her anyway. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. There will be ups and downs, but trust that God will bring you together. Even when your heart is broken and you think all is lost, don’t question God. He is working for your good and hers.
There’s much more that I could tell you, but I think this will suffice for now.
P.S.- Stay away from the wooden dowel rods. They only bring about trouble.
Now it’s your turn. What are some things you’d share with your 18-year-old self if you had the chance?