I know it may be hard to believe, but I’m no longer in my 20’s. But, if I could go back to the 90’s and have a conversation with myself, I’d take off the headphones to that Sony Discman and start to tell myself a few things. Here’s "Part 1" of what I’d say:
1. Don’t Waste Your Freedom … unless you get married very early, you’ll never have this much freedom for the rest of your life. Soon, a full-time job, a spouse, and children will hopefully become your priority. So, make the most of this freedom while you can. Have fun. Take risks. Drive across the country. Go see something you’ve only read about. Be spontaneous because in a few years, all that freedom will be gone.
2. Don’t Be Selfish with Your Freedom …it’s true that you’ll never have this much freedom for the rest of your life. Just don’t use all of that freedom on yourself. Give it away. Be a servant. Help others. Be generous with your time.
3. Following Jesus is Not About the Rules … for years my Christian experience revolved around trying to be sure that God was happy with me. And, making God happy meant following all the rules. I thought that if I could just spiritually discipline myself enough then I could straighten myself out and keep the rules and then I could manipulate God into being happy with me. So, my relationship with God became a checklist of behavioral duties that, instead of setting me free, became a prison. The focus of my relationship with God was either do, do, do or don’t, don’t, don’t. If I was doing, doing, doing … God was happy. If I was don’ting, don’ting don’ting … God … not so happy. And, it’s a strange thing because there’s nothing wrong with more right behavior. That’s a good thing. There’s nothing wrong with less wrong behavior. That’s a good thing too. But something … or better yet … Someone was missing from that equation: Jesus.
4. God Enjoys Me … for the longest time I believed that God loved me, but I wasn’t so sure he enjoyed me. How could He possibly enjoy someone who continually messed up and couldn’t get it together? I felt like a total disappointment to Him. I know He loved me, but I thought He’d enjoy me more if I did “better.” What I wish I would have known is that He doesn’t enjoy the future version of me more than the current version of me. When He looks at me, He sees Jesus and all He has done on my behalf.
5. Prayer is Not About Prayer, It’s About God … I had always thought of prayer as a way of getting what I wanted or what someone else wanted. When prayers were getting answered, I found myself praying more in order to get more. When prayers were not being answered, I found myself praying less because … ‘eh … what’s the point. I was pursuing what I wanted from God more than God Himself.
6. Be a Servant and Do More Than is Expected of You … a good reputation is worth more than gold. My character and work ethic can help establish a good reputation with others. There will never a traffic jam on the extra mile. Be known as someone willing to work hard and do more than is expected.
7. Give Generously … guilt may motivate you to give, but it will never motivate you to be generous. Only grace does that. No one is more generous than a person who understands how much they have received from God.
8. Live Below Your Means … just because you can buy it doesn’t mean you should buy it. One day you’ll be thankful for the extra money in the bank, like on a day you go to put a down payment on a house.
9. Read … read for school, read for enjoyment, read to build character and self-discipline, read to engage your imagination, read to become a better conversationalist. Reading truly does open up your mind to new worlds and new possibilities.
10. Eat Healthfully … enjoy that rabbit-like metabolism while it lasts, because you will not have it forever. You will not regret starting those healthy habits early on in life.