It is a great honor and privilege to be able to write this letter to you. I’m blessed to be your dad. Son, you are becoming a man. What follows comes from a heart that truly wants the very best for you in this life and, more importantly, the next.
THE NEXT LIFE
The day of your death is already marked. Unknown to us, God has decided how long we will live. You may live a “natural” life of about 70 or 80 years, or you may be killed by a drunk driver moments after reading this letter. You simply don’t know when you will be required to give an account of yourself to God. But you most certainly will. The Bible says, “ . . . it is appointed for a man to die once and after that, the judgement:” Hebrews 9:27
There is a man spoken of in the New Testament who went about his happy life, building bigger and bigger barns to hold all his posessions. Just when he was really enjoying his self-absorbed life, he heard the words (from God), “You fool! Tonight your soul is required of you.” Luke 12:20
Long before you came to the threshold of manhood, the world was busy trying to press you into its mold – to conform you to its values – to make you think in a worldly manner. But we are Christian men, followers of Christ. The Bible says, “Be not conformed to the world.” Romans 12:2. That means we are not to think like, or act according to the values of, this world. As a man making his way in the world, you must wrestle with this if you are to walk worthy of the name ‘Christian’ and remember, your appointment with God is already set.
Whether you like it or not, you are in the process of establishing your reputation. Welcome to manhood. What kind of man will you be? That’s something you choose every day. Anyone can have a “moment” when they seem to others to have good character only to have the next decision remove that good will. Consistency over time is the only way to reveal your true character to others. You are building who you are every day. You look after your character and God will look after your reputation.
As a young man your age, I had a poor understanding of how the choices I made would impact my future. It is as true today as it ever was – what you choose today will affect tomorrow. If you tune your ear carefully to the important things of life, you will have a growing sense that the substance of life is little more than a combination of two things: 1) Choices you make each day and, 2) Your response to events, both positive and negative) and circumstances in your life that you didn’t cause.
I’ll never forget an old poster of John Wayne, hanging on the wall of some office I had walked through many years ago. There’s only one John Wayne. But the caption below his photograph is what really stuck in my mind: Life’s Tough . . . but, It’s Tougher if You’re Stupid. Which is to say, if you make a habit of wrong choices, you are in for a tough life. The choices you make today are making your future.
You have a winsome way about you, son. You can get along with just about anybody. That is a real gift. And, you are a real gift – a truly worthy person. While you, as Christian young man, are commanded by Christ to be kind to people, there are many who are not worthy of your friendship – not worthy of your trust.
The Bible makes it clear that, “Bad company corrupts good morals.” 1 Corinthians 5:33. You will be known by the company you keep. People will make a judgment about the quality of your mettle (your worth as a person) by the quality of those you have chosen to count among your friends.
Test those with whom you would spend time by this standard: Are they the kind of people who will challenge me to be a better person? Will these guys challenge me to be more like Christ?
One of these days you are going to happen across a stream that is flowing crystal clear and then, down stream, it will be met by another muddy stream flowing into the channel. The clean stream will never clean up the dirty stream – not far from where they join, both streams are muddy. So it is with life. Choose friends of clean character, friends worthy of you.
Be polite to everyone but give your friendship only to those of sound character. Those of poor character, while needing your guidance, are not worthy of your friendship.
YOUR FUTURE WIFE
You are some woman’s dream-come-true, Son. Right now, your wife is somewhere in the world. Don’t you wonder how she’s spending her time? Do you think she’s wondering how you are spending yours? How would you feel right now if you could look through a window at your future wife and see her without her seeing you? What kind of behavior do you expect from her? What if her parents were away and she had a boyfriend over? And they had their hands all over each other and he was kissing her? Wait a minute, that’s your wife! What’s he doing with your future wife? I hope you’d want to thrash him for what he is stealing from you.
Why was your wife giving herself, a little at a time, to other guys? Does it make you crazy to think that some slob is even near her trying to put his slimy lips on her beautiful mouth? If you want to marry a girl who hasn’t given herself to every jerk that chased her; if you want a girl who has saved herself for the man of her dreams (you); if you want a girl who has honored Christ with her life and body and mind – YOU OWE HER THE SAME!
You will never be sorry for waiting for your wife. The world’s (and most of the Church’s) thinking says, “Hey, date around, get to know people.” Not so for the follower of Christ. Could you marry various people and have a great marriage? Sure. But, God knows exactly who you will marry. Don’t give one bit of your self to some person you won’t marry; not physically or emotionally. Don’t get entangled in a relationship, even if it isn’t physical, with someone who isn’t your future wife. Only the girl of your dreams deserves to know you intimately and to know the secrets of your heart.
Start your romance long before you even meet her. Any fool can run from one relationship to the next but, it takes a real lover to keep one woman satisfied for life. You will never regret being completely faithful to your wife before you meet and marry her.
Sooner or later, life deals everyone a tough hand. When this happens, you have a choice to make: Fold or press ahead knowing that “All things work together for good, to them that love God…” Romans 8:28
Many fall into the trap of thinking that their circumstances are so much worse than anyone else’s. This isn’t true. You can always find someone who has it worse. Some people focus on the problem until they are completely consumed and destroyed by it. This is not what a man does. A man braces and steps into the wind of adversity, knowing that God has declared in the Bible that He will always, be with him. Hebrews 13:5
Adversity is going to come – that I can guarantee you – but in one sense, it doesn’t matter. How you respond to it is what matters. Embrace your trials and purpose in your heart to honor God through them, regardless of what happens, and He will honor you for your faithfulness, in His way.
Purpose in your heart to be a diligent, hard worker. You know me well enough to know I can’t abide the presence of a young man on the job site who doesn’t know how to work hard – doesn’t know how to sweat. Of course, when he’s young, it’s not his fault. He wasn’t taught to work hard. But, you were! A man of character works hard. A lazy man is a disgrace – to his God, his wife, his kids, and to himself. Tell yourself every morning when you get out of bed, I am a man who works diligently and works hard.
In every age, the Truth has been under assault. Our Times are no different. Truth is often a casualty in the battle of ideas – a battle that will rage until the End of Time. Good men cannot avoid this battle. You, Son, cannot avoid this battle. We must take our place in the public square, standing for what is good, right, and true. What you are guaranteed in this battle are enemies. I like what Winston Churchill said: You have enemies? Good! That means you stood for something. Son, don’t live your life trying to be everyone’s friend. Stand for the Truth.
There are many things I could share with you but these are a few that will touch almost every area of your life. Please know that I’m proud to call you my son and pray that you will fulfill the purposes for which God created you. If you do, you will have found the best this life has to offer and an eternity that begins with the smile of God.
With much love and hope for your bright future,
P.S. Only in the Scripture will you learn God’s expectations for you . . . and yes, He does have them. Read your Bible every day. It will wash your mind. Sin will keep you from the Bible and the Bible, read and applied, will keep you from sin.
Matt is married to Lisa Jacobson; they are raising their eight children in the Pacific Northwest. Matthew is an author, speaker, blogger, and pastor of Tumalo Bible Fellowship. Matthew and Lisa are also the authors of the best-selling “his-and-her” marriage books, 100 Ways to Love Your Husband and 100 Ways to Love Your Wife.