My teenage years are a blur of confusion, bad choices and lack of focus. I didn't know God and I didn't trust my parents. I never felt I could be honest with them because honestly, although they set high expectations for me, they didn't give me a clue how to reach them.
Now, mind you, I grew up back in the late 60's and early 70's -- smack in the middle of the age of drugs, sex and rock and roll. And believe me, I tested them all. I floundered in figuring out who I was and what on earth I was supposed to do with my life. It's the one era of my life where I deeply wish God gave do-overs. But alas, He doesn't. It's possible though, to learn from our mistakes.
I think back on my teenage years and wonder how different my life might have been had someone taken the time to speak truth to me. To tell me I mattered, that I was 'fearfully and wonderfully made'. Showed me a roadmap with some of the potholes mapped out!
There is one distinct advantage coming to the Lord later in life. You gain a unique perspective as the word becomes very black and white. No one has to tell you 'the wages of sin is death' because you've lived it, walked it and paid the price. I just wish someone had risked a little, gone out on a limb and told me the truth about God and how He saw me back in those years. It might've saved a lot of heartache!
Maybe you know a teen or young person who needs to know what God thinks of them. Perhaps you could share some insight in how to navigate life in this crazy world. Here are the top things I know now that I wish I knew then:
- You are a masterpiece! I adore this scripture from Ephesians: "You are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand that you should walk in them." Eph.2:10 Workmanship in the Greek means poem, work of art, masterpiece. Imagine. Each day is one more stroke of color on the canvas of your life, one more note in your symphony, one more word in your grand poem of a story.
- You were made on purpose for a purpose. See above scripture. There. Are. No. Mistakes!
- You were bought with a price. Your life is not your own, and the world is not your home.
- Your body is not your own. It's the temple of the Holy Spirit. If you wouldn't wear it, say it or do it in front of mom and dad or grandparents...DON'T!!!
- You are a world-changer. He has something custom made that you were specifically created to do. Good works, prepared for you.
- Want success and to be raised up? Humble yourself. Every. Single. Time. We have many opportunities to boast, online, in person, in our writings. Don't do it. "Let another man praise you." Take the lowest place. Serve others, serve the undeserving and ungrateful. Remember, "...Jesus took a towel..." You will only rise to the level you're willing to humble yourself. Want to get ahead? Serve someone else for a season. Help their dreams come to pass. Live with humility, be willing to be broken bread and poured out wine and give God time to work.
- Work hard. Really hard. "Do you see a man skilled (or diligent) in his work? He will stand before kings. He will not stand before obscure men." Proverbs 22:29 Malcolm Gladwell in his book The Outliers teaches it takes 10,000 hours to achieve mastery in any field. That's roughly equal to 5 years of 40 hour work weeks to become world class in anything. Keep practicing. Under promise and over deliver. Go the second mile. Do more than is expected of you. Approach each task with excellence as the goal.
- Live with integrity. Say what you mean, mean what you say, keep your commitments and promises. Let your yes be yes and your no be no. If you died today and they came to sort through your belongings, what would they find under your bed, in your video cabinet, on your computer or bookshelf?
- Pursue excellence. The world sets the bar low. If you want to make a difference you have to be different. "And whatever you do, do it heartily as to the Lord, and not to men." Colossians 3:24 Excellence is lacking in this world. Be different.
- The culture is not your BFF. The devil hates you. He wants to destroy everything you stand for and snatch your future away. He sets traps everywhere, especially the internet. Be vigilant with social media and remember, once it's online it's there forever.
- Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. The loving will drive the living. If He is really first, everything else will fall into place.
- Forgive early and often. Forgive and in your forgiving, release the offense too. We are good at forgiving but we are also much too good at holding on to the offense. Offense sends bitter roots deep into our hearts long after we've forgiven. Forgive and release. Repent of holding offense against anyone.
What do you want your story, your masterpiece, to be 20 years from now? What poem is He writing, what picture is He painting with your life? You are magnificent, you're a world changer. Believe it!
Kate Battistelli, KateBattistelli.com