When did you get so tall?
I held out a leg and thought, I could have fit two of you in one of these.
I looked over at you, spinning your Daddy’s office chair around in circles. Suddenly you know how to do and say so many new things.
Two days ago you took your first steps.
You’re growing up fast.
I realize, more and more each day, that it’s no longer simply about nurturing and providing basic needs.
A little person is emerging… a personality… a will… One that will grow into an adult.
If life unfolds like it generally does, your daddy and I have approximately 17 years left…
Seventeen too-short-years to invest, to mold, to pour ourselves into, to guide and direct….
One day… probably long before we want to, we’ll look into the eyes of a man…
A man that we raised.
I have goals for you son… And this is what I plan to instill in you while I still can.
2. Choose heroes that pray. Men that aren’t afraid to admit they are wrong. Men that are filled to the brim with the Holy Ghost and find their strength in the Word of God.
3. Never stop striving to improve. The moment you realize you have ceased to learn, change it.
4. Keep in touch, regularly, with your parents. My, how I pray you will not forget us.
5. Don’t ask for money. Earn it.
6. Learn how to fix and DIY anything and everything you possibly can.
7. Don’t spend a company’s money frivolously, even if you think they can afford it. Find the best deal for them, just like you’d do yourself.
8. No matter where you work, and who the boss is, be the absolute best worker that place ever had.
9. Value your life enough that you don’t sacrifice it to screens and video games.
10. When you eat your dinner, thank your daddy for providing it. And when you get married, thank your wife for cooking it.
11. Choose friends that have a strong conscience.
12. Leave a place better than you found it.
13. Don’t unravel the neatness of the home, but contribute to it. When you get married, I want your wife to have a considerate husband who respects what she has cleaned.
14. Keep a list of things you hope to achieve in life and check it often. Never think you are too young to start accomplishing anything on it. Your ambitions may change over the years, but don’t let your drive waver.
15. See a job through to the finish. And then…. put your tools away.
16. When you borrow something, return it promptly and with a blessing. Fill the tank with gas. Buy a dozen eggs for the neighbor you borrowed 2 from last week.
17. When you are invited to a party or gathering, take something to contribute. Empty hands will probably go unnoticed, but giving hands will not.
18. Make your bed, iron your clothes, and shave your face. Self-Respect is born in little things like these that the lazy and unmotivated will ignore.
19. When girls begin to catch your eye, choose from among those that have accomplished things.
20. Never be so proud that you cannot apologize.
21. You will get hurt in life, but when you are… remember this: God created pain, so you would know something is wrong and be motivated to fix it. So much hurt boils down to pride within us… and the more sensitive you are to that truth, the quicker you will recover and the stronger you will become.
22. Mark special days on a calendar and put effort into celebrating them. Your loved ones are worth honoring, acknowledging, and remembering. A forgotten birthday is a hurt you can avoid inflicting.
23. Be a man that seeks the Lord diligently. Do not rest until you have been filled with the Holy Ghost. Put God’s will ahead of everything in your life.
24. Learn and master surrender to God. You will have to make sacrifices, let go of dreams, embrace things you fear the most… but you will find the greatest and most immeasurable joy in the center of the plan God has chosen for you.
25. Force yourself to do things that are uncomfortable. This is the most fertile soil to grow in.
26. Romance your wife. Refuse to let your pursuit of her die. Buy her flowers. Take her on dates. Randomly and without reason. Her work for your home and family are important and should be acknowledged with gratitude.
27. Don’t be a tightwad. Not with your money, your time, or your resources. Learn and embrace the art of giving and serving. These are the people that make the difference.
28. Be a good friend. And be a friend to many. Make as many friends as you can and build those relationships by hanging out, keeping in touch, being there in ugly weather… I learned far too late in life that people are precious. Grab hold of that while you are young and retain it when you are a man.
29. Lead like Jesus. He didn’t dictate with a rod of iron. He washed His disciples feet. He didn’t demand loyalty… people were compelled to be loyal by his character. Lead by example… not words.
30. Take time at the altar seriously. Don’t chatter or goof off with others here. This is a sacred place to spend time with God and should be respected.
31. Pay attention in church. Participate during worship. Listen to the preaching. Pay your tithes.
32. Put a guard over your mouth. Only speak words that will strengthen, encourage and build others.
33. Carve out time in your day for God. A special time that is only His that you will not give to anyone else.
34. Refuse to settle for a career or life pursuit that does not ignite passion inside of you. Find that one thing that you were made for… discover what it is that makes work never feel like work and chase it with everything you’ve got.
35. Cherish the time you have with people you love. Attend their life events; weddings, showers, graduations, milestone birthdays, funerals. Even if it’s a struggle to get time off and find a way there. When death seizes the people you care about, you will either carry regret for missing them, or the joyful memories of being there. I want you to have the latter.
36. Learn absolutely everything you can learn from every person you meet. When you meet someone who is good at something you have no skill for, offer to help them, and take the opportunity to learn what they know. Glean what you can from the character of others and seek to perfect your own by embracing what is good and rejecting what is not.
37. Learn the balance of saying ‘no.’ There are times when a firm ‘no’ will be required for the strength and well-being of your family… but becoming too comfortable with this word will close doors upon doors of opportunity.
38. Have the courage to obey the Lord, whether it is to go into the fearful unknown, or to bravely stay, when every fiber of your being aches to leave.
39. Don’t be afraid to be a gentleman to people that are not your wife or girlfriend. Open doors. Offer your jacket when it is cold. Give up your seat. Insist they go first. This isn’t flirting. It’s just a lost art in our society.
40. When you get don’t know if you are in God’s will, figure out where you were the last time you had no doubt. Go there, and stay there until God tells you otherwise. Don’t worry if it doesn’t make sense to other people.
41. There will be times when you have to decide whether you will succumb to the pull and persuasion of a man, or risk everything by choosing to obey God. Live with eternity in view and the choices will be easy and the sacrifices small.
42. Carry out your responsibilities so dependably that people forget anyone is doing them.
43. If one person is all it will take to replace you… anywhere….ever… Do more.
44. Never take the title if you will reject the towel.
45. One day, you will feel God lay a mantle on your shoulders. When that day comes boy, you accept it. You will weep under the weight of it… but this is your calling… Don’t run from it or hide. Embrace it in all of its fearful wonder and chase it! You will have hard days, no doubt, but you will never regret accepting this precious gift.
46. When faced with mean people, don’t flinch. Be graceful and show kindness… and not the fake sarcastic kindness so many applaud themselves for. Consider what may have driven such demeanor and show genuine compassion. You never know what someone is going through. But while they are trying to build a wall, just gently take the bricks down and set them aside.
47. Surrender your seat when there are elders, women, or sick or weak individuals standing, even if they will not take it. If the seat remains empty for hours, refuse to sit if these people are standing.
48. Honor authority. This command is from scripture and it is not contingent upon your perspective of them. There will be times when you are certain they are wrong… but humble yourself to consider that their experience gives them a higher vantage point to see things you cannot. You may or may not be right… but do your part and let God sort out the rest.
49. Let God build your life. Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain which build it. Even if things are not happening as fast as you’d like them to, or the way you thought they would… God is the best builder and He can be trusted with this task… and….
50. Chase lions. Overcome all impossibilities. Defeat the odds. Tuck the promise God made concerning you deep into your heart and keep it there.