Should the Lord be pleased and I have a son (tentatively named Kofi Jr – has to be born on a Friday though but we can dream!), here are five life lessons I want to impart him – lessons I’ve learned the hard way but lessons I’m glad to have learned (and in most cases, am still learning!):
- Learn to love the Word of God. It wasn’t until I was 17 that I came to truly appreciate the Word of God and all it could. It’s not in vain that Jesus prayed to the Father, Sanctify them by Your truth, Your Word is truth1 Love the Word, order your life around the Word, be prepared to get rid of people and circumstances that will tempt you away from the Word (and they will come thick and fast!) – do everything to be in the best position to receive the implanted word, which is able to save your soul.2
- Learn to embrace your weaknesses. Now understand me – I’m not talking about flaws of character – work on those through the Word in the power of the Spirit. I’m talking about those things which are not sinful but seem to cripple you. The culture around you will tell you to be ashamed of your weaknesses and to be on a constant hamster-wheel of self-improvement but, listen to me – you are strongest when you are weakest. Never feel the urge to change who you are merely because someone says so – if it hinders your Gospel witness or impairs Gospel work, fix it. Otherwise, adopt the apostle’s approach: So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, catastrophes, persecutions, and in pressures, because of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.3
- Be vulnerable. I’ve never liked being vulnerable – after all, who in their wrong mind wants to be open to even the possibility of being hurt by another person? Vulnerability, by its very nature, means people will hurt you – sometimes profoundly so. Yet still be open to people – there aren’t that many people who are open with people and the world suffers for it. For the good of others, be willing to spend and be spent, even if it’s for little reward now. I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls.4
- Watch how you treat women. There is a crisis of manhood in our culture – a fact so well-documented I’m sure I don’t need to devote an excess of time to defining how far-reaching it is. I hate to say it but sometimes that crisis puts on Sunday best and comes to church on a Sunday morning (or afternoon, if your church is like mine), Reject this culture’s treatment of women as game to be hunted or empty-headed ditzes worthy only of manipulation and mistreatment or equipment to be used for your own means. They are image-bearers of God – just like you are – and if they are believing, then they are heirs of the grace of life – just like you are. They’re your sisters in the Lord – even after you marry one, that’s still true. Don’t play with their hearts, don’t treat them as objects, don’t assume they’re inferiors – treat them with every ounce of dignity you can muster.
- Don’t take yourself too seriously. Seriously. There will be enough people in your life to do that on your behalf – of that, I can give you full assurance. Enjoy the laughter, engage in recreation, find time to do things which are…well, not that serious. Fun, in its proper place, is not a sin and be prepared to remind some folks around you of that. Be light-hearted when the moment allows. Learn to lighten up and laugh. A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.((Prov 17:22))
Ultimately, kid – it’s not in you to do any of this. You’ll fail, you’ll grow weary, you’ll sin – but remember:
If we say, “We have no sin,” we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
If we say, “We don’t have any sin,” we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.5
The Gospel will provide sweet balm for your cuts, scrapes and wounds – rest in it. I suppose that’s the most important thing I can leave you.