One of the most common thoughts I have had people share with me over the last 8 years of being a pastor is this, “I wish I had heard this when I was 18.” I hear this from 45 year olds as well as 22 year olds. The heart of this comment is that many folks wish they knew then what they know now. They wish someone had shared truth and helped shaped them years ago. And they all have the same reason – pain. They made decisions that led to personal hurt and to hurting others and they wish they would have been given clear instruction and hope in another direction. Every time someone says this to me, I think of this verse from the Bible. Ecclesiastes 12:1 – Remember your Creator in the days of your youth before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say I find no pleasure in them. The author is challenging the reader to get it now…to understand it now. The sooner Jesus gets a grip on your heart the better.
We believe this as a church. We want to make sure our Student Ministry (grades 7-12) is propagating this idea. Several years ago, we created a list of important biblical truths that we want every student to have rooted deep in their soul once they are ready to move on to the next chapter of life (college or the work force or whatever). We plan as a church to put these in front of students more regularly. Here is a list that young people need to understand now.
- who I surround myself with affects who I am becoming
- purity paves the way to intimacy
- circumstances and people do not determine my worth, God does
- my life should be marked by being others focused
- God knows what is best for my life, therefore His authority is not a straightjacket
- I can trust the Bible
- do not pretend choices do not have consequences
I would add: consequences often hurt. While God CAN remove them, He often chooses NOT to. For our benefit, of course. But consequences hurt.