Sixteen for Sixteen: A Message to My Son on His 16th B’day

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASchaeffer, you turned sixteen today. So, after we played a couple games of ping pong this morning, I sat down to think of sixteen things that I want to impart into your life during this special year year.

  1. Make God’s grace in Jesus the defining truth of your life. Consciously abide in Jesus as your sin-bearer and perfect righteousness. This will impact and empower everything else on this list.
  2. Do not follow the crowd. Follow Jesus. If you are honest, it will not be hard to know the difference, but it will be hard at times to make that choice. Remember the cross. Remember the dog and fish story.
  3. Do hard things. Jesus did. It will build the muscles of courage and perseverance. Don’t be afraid to risk. Remember the Teddy Roosevelt quote?
  4. Own your junk (not the material junk, but the sinful junk). Repentance is only possible in view of the cross, but also is empowered by the cross. When we own our junk, we should people how to get to the cross. Defensiveness is a denial of the gospel. Especially own it with your wife and kids. No greater example could be set for a family that a repenting father.
  5. Forgive freely. After all, you have been freely forgiven. And there are not many more personal ways to preach the gospel than with forgiveness.
  6. Beware of mirrors. Since the flesh longs to boast in self, few things have the power to drive us toward the opposite poles of pride or insecurity.
  7. You will marry the mother of your children. Yes, be attracted to her physically. But even more so spiritually. Is she beautiful on the inside? Is grace operative in her life? Is she really a sold-out, fully devoted disciple of Jesus, or just a girl in the crowd? By the way, treat girls the way you want your future wife to be treated by other guys. This solves the “how far should I go” question.
  8. Take time to be still and listen to God. Be as present with him as if he were sitting in the chair across the room.
  9. Learn to walk with Jesus by asking for his wisdom and empowering grace in all things (Eph. 3:20-21). Hand in hand, moment by moment.
  10. Your family is more important than your career. Provide for your family, but don’t forget to play with your family. In case you read, pray, I wrote play. Of course, it is also a good thing to pray with them. 🙂
  11. Be affectionate with and compliment your wife in front of your kids.
  12. Turn off social media and your phone when you are home with your family, wife or friends. Be fully present.
  13. Live within your monetary means so that you can be financially generous. One key: stay out of debt.
  14. Help others in need. Simple acts of kindness are powerful and speak the gospel without using words.
  15. Beware of the deception of pornography in its many forms (internet, magazines, window displays at the mall, etc.). Porn is a spiritual plague in the modern age. Porn will kill you and destroy your marriage. In fact, it is the most unloving thing you can do while you prepare now for marriage as well as within marriage. Kill it before it kills you. Mercy is for sinners, not for porn. Do not be deceived. Kill it. James 1:12-15.
  16. Men must die to the flesh in order to really live for Jesus. It is only when we die to self that we can really live for Jesus and bless others. Matthew 16:24-26; 2 Corinthians 5:14-15.

There is so much more to say. But I can save that for next year. Furthermore, if I could only provide one of these sixteen reflections, it would be #1: Make God’s grace in Jesus the defining truth of your life. Consciously abide in Jesus as your sin-bearer and perfect righteousness. This really will will impact and empower everything else.

Schaeffer, I love you more than words can express. You are a gift, and I am thrilled and thankful to call you my son.