I was recently invited to speak at a young man’s 13th birthday party, with the parents viewing their son transitioning from child to young man. They asked some older men to challenge their son and exhort him about this next season of life. I was honored to be asked, and the “speech” I prepared follows. We’ll say his name was Brian…
I’m thankful to have this opportunity to share with you from God’s Word. I asked myself, what do I wish someone would’ve told me when I was your age, and what could I share that might be different than what your parents have been sharing with you for the last thirteen years?
First, please put on this backpack, which I’ll explain in a moment.
If I understand your parents correctly, they see you entering the next season of life: you’re moving from being a child to a young man. I believe there’s scriptural precedent for this in 1 John 2:12-14. In those short verses, God addresses people in three seasons of life: little children, young men, and fathers. But instead of speaking to them physically, he speaks to them spiritually. Instead of describing what accompanies the physical changes as they move from one season to the next, John addresses them spiritually. Since you’ve become a young man – since your parents view you in that season of life now – I thought I might share with you how God sees young men and what He desires for you during this next season of life…
1 John 2:12 I write to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake.
This is the perfect thing to say to children because they’ve learned their sins are forgiven. They know this great, but very simple and basic truth. Growing up in a wonderful Christian family, I’m sure from the time you were very young your parents talked to you about your sins being forgiven through Christ.
1 John 2:13aI write to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning.
This refers to a deep knowledge of God, which fathers would have after walking with the Lord for a long time. Since you’re not entering this season for a while, we’re not going to worry about these words…yet.
1 John 2:13b I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the wicked one.
Keep in mind he discussed young men overcoming the wicked one. We’ll talk about this more in a moment.
1 John 2:13c I write to you, little children, because you have known the Father.
This is the other perfect thing to say to children: they know God is a Father to them. They’re young, so it can’t be said to them what is said to young men – that they’ve overcome the wicked one – or to fathers – that they have known Him who is from the beginning. Instead they have this other wonderful, but very simple knowledge of God that He’s their Father.
1 John 2:14aI have written to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning.
This is the same thing said to fathers in verse thirteen. And now the last thing he says to young men…
1 John 2:14b I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the wicked one.
Brian, these words are very important: they describe your new season of life. I’ve always felt like there’s more wisdom found in a few verses in Scripture than all the wisdom found in other books, and as you begin your life as a young man there are three great truths contained here for you to keep in mind.
FIRST, he says young men are strong. My son Ricky has a lot of energy, but he isn’t strong yet. So he can’t do much with all his energy except run around, wrestle with Johnny and occasionally try to wrestle with Rhea. But as a young man you have energy and strength.
How are you going to use this strength and energy God has given you? Are you going to be a good steward of it? Are you going to use it to serve God and serve others? 1 Corinthians 7:32 says that since you’re unmarried you can “care for the things of the Lord – how you may please the Lord.”
God clearly wants young people being responsible. Please listen to this powerful verse…
Lamentations 3:27 It is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth.
I’m using the backpack to physically represent the responsibility God says should be on your shoulders as a young man. God says this weight is good for you. When you remember carrying this backpack, I hope it reminds you that God wants the weight of responsibility and accountability on your shoulders – not when you’re older – but now as a young man.
Young men are strong and it’s good for them to use that strength wisely. It’s good for young men to bear – or carry – a yoke – or burden – when they’re young. Why? It strengthens them, teaches them to grow. If young men are going to become fathers, they need to be challenged and stretched to grow into that role. While you’re a young man you want to focus on the things of the Lord, be active and make good use of all the strength and energy God has given you.
SECOND, he says young men have the word of God [abiding in them]. As a young man you should be soaking up God’s Word. Some people think they should get serious about God’s Word when they’re older, possibly when they’re already husbands or fathers, but by then it’s too late. You want to take advantage of the time you have now reading and learning God’s Word.
Whatever God wants you to do later in life, God’s Word will equip you to do that. Whatever God has for you later in life, you will be prepared for it by learning God’s Word. Learning God’s Word is the one thing you can do during this season and you can be sure it will benefit you in the future no matter what course your life takes. More than likely you’re going to be a husband and father someday, and you want God’s Word richly dwelling in you as a young man to prepare you for those roles.
FINALLY, he says young men have overcome the wicked one. This is the only thing John says to young men twice (also in v. 13). This is very fitting because young men face so much temptation from the devil. Understand being a young man means facing lots of temptation; it means having an enemy that wants to destroy the work God wants to do in your heart.
Brian, overcoming the wicked one has to be one of the goals you have for yourself during this season of life. As a young man you have to be very deliberate and intentional with your eyes and your thoughts. If you’re cautious of what you set before your eyes and you’re diligent regarding what you allow in your mind, you’ll be well on your way to having victory over the wicked one.
So this will be my prayer for you Brian during this new season of being a young man:
- You are strong, and you use the strength and energy God’s given you wisely.
- God Word abides in you: use this season to read and learn God’s Word so it richly dwells in you.
- You overcome the wicked one: you have victory over this enemy God wants you to defeat.
Brian, in closing I want to say I’m thankful to be your pastor. It’s humbling to think your parents allow me to have this position in their lives and, therefore, in your life. But it’s also very exciting. It’s exciting to think about watching you grow into a man. I’m looking forward to seeing what God does in you and through you over the following years.
Your pastor, friend, and brother in Christ,