1) Guard your heart. Proverbs 4:23; 2 Timothy 2:22
Don’t just date to date. Guard your heart with all you have. Be wise and discerning in who you get attached to. God is gracious to heal but it is painful to go through hurt. Because she is a Christian, does not mean she is right for you. Be very cautious in dating.
2) Read the Bible—Psalm 119:105; Hebrew 4:12; 1 Timothy 4:12, 16
Hunger and thirst for His Word. It is so filling and so convicting. His Spirit will guide you and show you His Will if you stay in His Word. Too often we just read a devotion that has a quick little verse. Rather, read a Bible you can understand and pray for discernment. Be disciplined in this. Read His Word daily and don’t neglect it. Stay in it and allows God’s Word to permeate your soul.
3) Pray, be patient, and wait for an answer—Philippians 4:6
If you stay in His Word and pray to God, He will reveal His will to you. Pray for the big and small stuff. Pray for your classes and your friendships. Pray about where to go on a Friday night. Pray for your friends. Pray for your teachers. Pray for the small stuff and the big stuff. Pray for direction about the right college. Pray about which events to go to. Don’t rush God and wait patiently, listening for His voice. Don’t just think because it is a Christian school, you should go there. Be patient and wait on God. When we pray, we are the ones that are changed.
4) Guard your time and be efficient in time management. Ephesians 5:15-16
The saying is true, “Plan a minute, save an hour!” As you all know with the shooting, life is short. Your life is made up of minutes and hours. Don’t just veg in front of the TV or computer for hours on end with no end in sight. Life is short and be aware that we will never have those minutes again. Who knows when our last days will be. Be wise in how you spend your time.
5) Don’t internalize everything. 2 Timothy 2:24-26
Everything is not your issue or not your fight. I get very frustrated and aggravated over things or people I cannot change and let it get inside me. Give it to God and let go. Know your limitations but also know when to stand up for what you believe. There are fights worth fighting but we need to wise and discerning in what those fights are.
6) Accountability is key to growth—Proverbs 27:17
Find some guys who love God and you trust, respect, and like and develop an accountability relationship with them. Be wise and discerning in who you choose. Share your weaknesses with them and develop a relationship where you know they will get in your face weekly about your weaknesses. It is an incredible way to sharpen you in your spiritual walk and grow as Christians.
7) Enjoy life to the fullest—John 10:10
As Christians, we should model the ultimate life. Jesus said He came to give us life and life more abundant. Have fun and enjoy life. Go the beach, have fun with your friends, go camping, etc. Do things you enjoy and honor God in it. God wants you to have fun and He wants to bless you. He wants you to enjoy life.
8) Acknowledge your weaknesses and intentionally develop ways to protect yourself. 1 Corinthians 10:13; Proverbs 5; 2 Timothy 2:22
We all have weaknesses, the key is acknowledging it and intentionally guarding against it with God’s help. If you struggle with looking at bad things on the Internet, move your computer to a public place in the house or at least always leave your door open. Only look at it when your mom is home and always leave an out. If you still return to looking at it, abstain from the computer for a month. If you have problems with drugs, flee from those friends who do drugs and are bad influences. If you have trouble going too far on dates, only double date and if she does not want to but wants to always be alone with you, its time to break it off. Intentionally look elsewhere when you find yourself lusting after a girl. When she walks by next time, look the other way.
9) Forgive and let go. Matthew 18:21-35
If someone has done something wrong to you, forgive the person and then, let it go. Not forgiving someone only hurts you and damages your relationship with God and then with others. Don’t expect that person to change. They may never change but it is your relationship with God that is key. You may shame that person by your grace to them but its only God who changes hearts. Once you have forgiven them, let it go and let it die. Don’t hold on to it, because it will eat at you and cause like a poisonous venom to come out of you when you speak of that person later. Again, you are the one who is getting damaged when you don’t forgive and forget. It will destroy you emotionally and spiritually if you cannot forgive and forget. Because of the incredible grace God has shown us, the least we can do is forgive others.
10) Take advantage of your summers—Ephesians 5:15-16
In high school you are limited with your summers, but when you get to college, explore the world during your summers. Go and do things you have always wanted to do. Backpack across Europe. Hike the Appalachian Trail. Be a camp counselor at a fun summer camp. Work for Campus Crusade on the beach. Find a fun job or find a job that might apply to what you want to do in the future. Explore but if you can help it, don’t do the same thing every summer. Reason being, once you get out of college, you won’t have this opportunity again. You will probably get a job or possibly go to graduate school and you won’t have the time to go and explore. You will have car payments, house payments, family to support, have a wife, summer school for graduate school, etc. I am not saying that life is not fun now, but summers in college are special.
11) Count the cost with fraternities in college—Proverbs 22:1; 2 Timothy 2:22
I was not in a fraternity in college but had numerous opportunities to get in one. I decided against it and looking back, for me, I am glad I did not pledge. My brother pledged a fraternity and he really enjoyed it. Pledging a fraternity may be what God has for you, but be very wise and discerning in deciding to. I saw plenty of straight A high school students almost funk out in college or at least get C’s and D’s their first semester in college because of pledging a fraternity. The amazing thing, these guys at Samford were not drinking for the most part. I am sure at a state school, add alcohol, and it is 10x worse. You can make some life long friends in fraternities as well as gain a sense of identity but looking back, I have life long friends and gained a sense of identity outside of a fraternity. It consumes an enormous about of your time and money and you have to listen and obey a lot of guys you probably won’t respect. But you do build a tremendous camaraderie. As in all of life, but wise in whom you associate with and remember, the temptations may be much greater there. Too often, the values of people you associate with begin to be reflected in your own.
12) Develop a friendship with your parents—Exodus 20:12
No one loves you more than you parents and you will miss them when you go away. Life is so short so treasure the time you have with them now. Who knows where you will head off to college but if you leave home, it will never the quite the same. Hang out with them. Enjoy your time you have with them. I thought I was too cool to hang out with mom and dad in high school but now, I miss seeing them since they are in Florida and we are in Texas. Treasure that relationship. With that comes, obeying your father and mother. When you don’t obey them, you are literally biting the hand that feeds you. Why harm a relationship with the one who loves you most? No one else will love you like your parents. There is no one else, except for God, to run to.
13) Don’t play with fire in temptations 2 Timothy 2:22; James 1:13-16
Flee from temptation. Guard your bodies. Guard your mind and your heart. I beg you to abstain from sexual immorality. You are just destroying your future marriage. As I can testify, its well worth the wait. If you have already messed up, God is so gracious to forgive but the hurt is tough to overcome.
14) Desire to be a servant leader, because it is the only way. –Philippians 2:4-8
When it all comes down to it, there really is no other good leadership style than servant leadership. After Breakaway, help pick up the chairs even if you are speaking. Don’t think because you are now a senior that you don’t have to help the 7th graders or have to greet people. Be servant leaders and humble yourself. Follow Jesus example.
15) Focus on friendships with girls over dating. Proverbs 5; 2 Timothy 2:22
This goes along with guarding your heart. With hormones so high in high school, dating can be quite dangerous. Focus on the friendship with girls and spend time with them in groups or at least over the phone or texting. Acknowledge the fact that dating can lead to a lot of temptations and none of us are strong enough to resist them if we are put in certain dangerous situations. Focus on the friendships in high school and in college because 1) it will protect you from sin, 2) you will respect them more as a person you care about, 3) guard your heart, 4) takes the pressure off of dating, 5) allows you to discern whether this is the type of person you want to date or not.
16) Solidify your beliefs now. 2 Timothy 2:12
Know who and what you believe. Have your own faith that is yours and not your parents or friends. Who is Jesus to you? Who do you trust? In college, a lot of temptations and freedoms will be thrown at you that you will never have faced in your life. Solidify your beliefs now in high school. Stay in God’s Word, find a great church, find guys who will keep you accountable. Grow in Christ like you have never grown before. College is a great time to grow in Christ, have a great time, and get an education.
17) Study hard in college. 2 Timothy 2:15
Ultimately it is your life and whether you study or not is up to you. Do you want to be a success or just limp through life? Your grades are ultimately for you because it is your future, not your parents. Do you want to dream big dreams or just accept mediocrity?
18) Stay in shape 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Paul is talking about not being disqualified spiritually as a leader but I believe it can also apply to our bodies. Our pastor says, “Don’t let your soul write a check your body cannot cash.” Meaning, don’t allow your body to be a hindrance in your ministry for Christ. Don’t get fat and out of shape where you cannot be effective for him. Exercise and honor God through the body He has blessed you with.
19) Be wise with your words 1 Timothy 4:12; 2 Timothy 2:14-15; James 3:1-12
Realize everyone of your words has a consequence. Be careful in what you say and realize the awesome power of your tongue. Flee from gossip, flee from bad mouthing teachers or other friends. Think before you speak or email or send letters. Words can be so dangerous and have such evil consequences. One word can definitely start such a “forest fire.” What do your words say about you?
2 Timothy 6:11-16; Ephesians 3:14-21; Philippians 1:3-6; Colossians 1:9-12