A few weeks ago Dave Burke was the guest on my podcast. Dave agreed to write a post outlining what he would want to say to his 20 year old self. He’s been good to his word, and here is his letter!
You are going to go through life saying to yourself, “I wish I knew then what I know now”. You need to know that the needle on your wisdom meter will be stuck in the red zone for many years to come. So I am not going to tell you anything that will help you avoid embarrassment, disappointment or failure. You need to have these experiences, but you will grow through them. That’s how life works.
You should also know that you are a late developer. Remember, your baby teeth arrived eighteen months later than everyone else’s? You have recently realised that you only got your brain into gear once you arrived at university. And you have just become a follower of Jesus. In your discipleship, history will repeat itself; as a Christian, you are going to be a bit retarded, I’m afraid.
So, I’d like to share with you a few things that may speed up your development in the hope that God may get more glory, and your friends experience less pain, as you grow in grace and in the knowledge of God.
Here’s the first, listen a lot more than you speak. You are articulate and confident. You are also combative and quick to assume that you are right and everyone else is wrong. So shut up and listen. When you encounter a new idea – ask yourself, “What is right with this, what can I learn from this?” Answer those questions humbly before you open your mouth.
And second, you are going to spend a lot of time trying to get your theology right, bully for you! But you need to realise sooner than you did that the heart of discipleship is a living, breathing person you can actually love and who loves you. One amazing day in the future you will rumble the fact that a Christian is someone who has fallen in love with Jesus, and rue that it took you so long! Sort this out sooner, David.
Thirdly, remember that Christianity did not begin in the 16thcentury, but the 1st. What do you think was happening in the fifteen centuries between Jesus and the Reformation? These were not ‘the wilderness years’! People who lived and taught the gospel during that time looked and sounded very different to Marty Lloyd Jones and Billy Hendriksen, but that does not mean they were inferior. You will eventually realise this. You should try to do it sooner.
Fourth, invest in friendships. Over the years you will meet many amazing people, as they move on you will lose touch. Don’t let this happen. do whatever it takes to keep these friendships alive – those people are precious, and you need them a lot more than you think.
I could go on, but that is enough for now. You are getting a lot of things right, you know. I should tell you that your habit of daily prayer and study has fuelled a ministry for 40 years. You should also know that you will still be climbing mountains 45 years from now. And I’m still running, that’s because you will soon make a decision to run three or four times a week.
Keep those routines going and remember, “You don’t stop running because you get old, you get old because you stop running!”
If you missed the podcast, you can catch it here.