Do you ever think back about your life and wonder, “If I only knew then…what I know now?”
That may explain why stories about time travel keep coming back in movies, TV and books. There’s something in us that wishes we could get another shot, a do-over, or that we could somehow send a message back to the younger version of ourselves.
Roughly half of my lifetime ago I was a fiery, strong-willed 21-year- old just starting out in ministry. I like to say sometimes I was wrong, but never in doubt. My pastor corrected me often – and I needed it.
He used to say the same things over and over. Things like:
- “You may see it right, but you don’t say it right.”
- “You’re too impatient, too abrupt, too demanding. You need to slow down and enjoy the journey.”
- “You’re so purpose-driven, you miss the point!”
I was grateful for the input, and I tried my best to listen and change…but in those areas the growth was often slow. Looking back now I realize the wisdom and life in his counsel.
If I could sit down with that 21-year- old powerhouse with flowing locks of hair…I’d tell him: “You don’t get this now…but one day you will. Trust me. You want to follow this wise correction. It may be painful now, but in the long run you’ll be so grateful for what it’s going to produce in your life.”
But that’s not all I would tell him. Before we parted ways I’d make sure he realized one thing he was doing right. Because even at that young age God had given me a strong conviction about the priceless value of relationships.
I’d make sure he understood:
- Invest in people. Love them generously.
- Add value to their lives and build them up in every way you can.
- Help them become who God created them to be.
- Want more FOR them than you want FROM them.
Even as I write these words, these are so much more than catchy phrases. It’s not easy – it requires time and lots of emotional energy. And it’s not just for me or people with similar personalities. I think it’s how God created all of us.
Whether you’re 13, 21 or 42, I truly believe God wants YOU to live this way. God created us to know and be known, to love and to be loved, and the sooner we prioritize this in our lives, the more we experience the life He created us to live.
Pastor Jeff Little