I have often fantasized about going back in time to my younger days, sitting myself down, and having a real heart-to-heart talk. When I think about all the wasted time, wasted opportunities, and the truly stupid things I spent my energy on, it bothers me greatly.
It was not because I lacked wise counsel or good Christian examples in my life. My parents would tell me again and again that I had the most time then as a young person than I would ever have in my adult life, and I simply did not take this to heart.
Young Christian, my heart goes out to you. You may be still living under the roof of your parents or guardian, or maybe you’re experiencing your first taste of independence as a college student. Wherever you find yourself, please listen to the words of Paul.
“See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16).
Most likely, you have the most energy and time now then you will ever have again in your life, and if you begin living intentionally right now your future self will be better off. Life as an adult Christian comes with many challenges, both spiritual and physical, and now is the time to begin preparing for them.
Prepare for lack of time
“But I want you to be without care. He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord—how he may please the Lord. But he who is married cares about the things of the world—how he may please his wife. There is a difference between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman cares about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But she who is married cares about the things of the world—how she may please her husband” (1 Corinthians 7:32-34).
Now, you may or may not be married one day, and that isn’t the point of the passage above. The principle Paul is applying to married Christians applies to adult Christians in general. As an adult, you will have responsibilities to yourself, your community, your occupation, and your fellow Christians. You will not have as much time to spend in prayer, in the Word of God or meditation.
While you’re young and living under someone else’s roof, not worried about paying your bills or tomorrow’s important meeting, take this opportunity to soak in personal time with God. Build up your spiritual health and a foundation of memorized Scripture.
“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).
Discipline is key to achieving anything in life, and this is true even of spiritual things. A lazy Christian will live under the constant conviction that they do not pray enough, read the Bible enough, or fellowship with other Christians enough, and their spiritual walk will grow slow and hard because of this.
Before spiritual laziness can set in, shake yourself awake every morning and take hold of your spiritual well being. Put yourself in the hands of God daily, hourly, by the minute, and surround yourself with reminders to press into the life that Christ is leading you into.
Prepare for autonomy
This is something you’re going to have to do yourself. When you are an adult Christian, no one is telling you what to do in your spiritual life. Your parents aren’t watching your activities over your shoulder. No one is there constantly keeping you accountable for what you do or how you spend your time. If you can behave as if you are autonomous now, while the safety net of accountability is still present in your life, you will be all the more ready for true personal responsibility as an adult.
I wish I could go back to my youth and change how I lived, but those days are gone for me. But they are not gone for you. Young, teenaged Christian, now is the time to take your life – spiritually, mentally, and physically – by the horns and surrender it to God.