What Advice Would You Give an 18 Year Old?

Have you ever been given the opportunity to do something great, yet you totally came up short?  This past week I did just that.  A friend of mine’s son was turning 18, and I was asked to be one of 18 men that would write him a letter giving any advice I wish someone would have given me when I turned 18.  I wrote the letter, but it stunk.

Think about it.  ANY advice.  I had the opportunity to really make a mark on this man.  I could share with him the battles that I went through, and the truth I learned from it.  I could have gotten downright honest with him, writing as if I was staring straight in his eyes, warning him of the danger ahead.  Instead, I chose to write this really lame note.


Well it’s about time you turned 18.  Your body beat you to it a few years ago.  Now instead of being that really tall 16 year old, it’s time your age helps validate your physical stature.  Now, as you would expect, I’d like to mention something to you that goes far deeper than physical appearance.

Maturity.  This is something that our culture doesn’t consider valuable.  In fact, our culture actually devalues it.  We hold high the slappy guys that want to play video games their entire life.  People label “cool” those people that don’t honor commitments, and bounce from responsibility to responsibility.  There are countless movies and TV shows that highlight boys living in an eternal place of youthfulness.  God is clear, through the words of Paul, on his thoughts toward it.

“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.  When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.”  I Corinthians 13:11 ESV

Austin, giving up childish ways is not a one-time event.  It’s not something you do when you turn 16, 18 or 21.  It is something you consistently choose to do.  Why?  Because God values maturity.  So you are turning a new number today.  But today, tomorrow, next week and next year, you will be faced with decisions that will reveal which you value: youthfulness or maturity.

I wish someone would have told me when I was young that one day I would have to choose to love my wife.  It would have been nice to know that I wouldn’t always want to hang out with my kids.  Again, it would have been nice to know that I wouldn’t always want to go to work.  I choose to do these things because I recognize as a Godly man, God wants me to do them.

I am so proud of the man you have become, Austin.  It seems like the stories are piling up of how you are choosing to honor God with your life, love those around you, and offer your strength to those weaker.  This is what God has called us – as men – to do.

I’m eager to watch how God uses such a mighty tool in His hand.

Saying yes to maturity,


Looking back over this letter, I think it is so lame.  What I say is true, but is the best of what I would love to tell this young man?  I mean, if I wish someone would have told me one thing when I was 18, would it be to value maturity?

I now realize why multiple letters in scripture contain more than one. (I and II Timothy, I and II Peter, etc)  It’s because the author realized he had much more to say.  I say that tongue-in-cheek.  I understand all of scripture is God’s and is there for a reason.  However, I am now compiling my second letter to Austin, and I’ll give it to him later this week.  I’ll post my updated letter tomorrow.

So what do you wish someone would have told you when you were turning 18?


  1. Bobby Miller March 1, 2011 at 9:07 am #

    Kevin, I think the letter is great. You told him maturity is on going, not a one time fix. (… work out your salvation …)
    I continue to go through situations, trials, ‘life’ – and I thought I had already learned that lesson.
    In visiting with the offenders on a somewhat regular basis (monthly), I have observed that when they come to grips with where they are and get beyond blaming, and then take opportunities to SERVE, they grow and are able to apply the TRUTH that they are learning.
    One, I believe, important idea an 18 year old needs to get ahold of is an understanding of AUTHORITY, and parents are a part of the authority they may encounter. Authorities are in place for our protection and I rebelled against it, big time. see Ps. 17:8-9 (instructor, boss, coach, team captain, law enforcement, etc.)
    Jesus marveled at the faith of the centurion as he had an understanding of AUTHORITY. see Matt.8:5-13, Luke 7:1-10
    God has made promises to those who get under AUTHORITY: Eph. 6:1-3; Eph. 6:1-3; Col. 3:20; Rom. 13:3; Rom. 13:5; Heb.13:17; Col. 3:23-24; I Pet. 2:18-20; I Tim. 6:1; Pro. 6:20-22; Pro. 6:23-24; Pro. 15:5; and more.
    When not under God’s authority we expose ourselves to the realm and power of satan’s control. see I Sam. 15:53
    Also to be remembered is that God is FAITHFUL. see Deut. 7:9 Bobby

    • Kevin East March 1, 2011 at 10:23 am #

      Great words, Bobby. We all need to remember that God establishes authority. If we can teach people when they are young – by our example – that we hold authority in high regard, it is a valuable truth that can be built upon.

      Thanks for the scripture.

  2. Stan Ward March 1, 2011 at 4:15 pm #

    Don’t be afraid of questions – When I went off to college, I thought that my previous two years of nightly Bible reading strengthened my faith beyond questioning. I was very wrong. At college, I had to deal with questions not just about what the Bible said, but what the Bible really was. Those questions began a season where it was really difficult for me to read the Bible at all. However, that season of doubt taught me some great truths. Truth #1: My relationship with God is based on what He did for me, and not what I do for Him. Truth #2: To be truly open-minded, you must be just as willing to doubt your doubts as to doubt your faith. Truth #3: The with-Christ life has seasons of growth, fruits, quietness, and death, just like spring, winter, fall, and summer. Don’t be surprised by the hard times. They are part of our growth, and they are necessary to teach us humility.

    Less stuff means more freedom – We live in a world consumed with consuming. At every opportunity, our culture screams “supersize me!” Yet Paul councils the young leader Timothy, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” By learning to live with less clutter (activities, possessions, clothes, negative relationships, etc.), you discover what is really important to you. And God can then shape those most important values into holy passions.

    You can’t give what you don’t have – If you want to show strength, become strong. If you want to be content in your relationships, then learn contentment. If you want to show God’s love to others, then experience God’s love for yourself. Occasionally take stock of your life and ask if what is inside you is what you wish to share with others. If not, then get help to change it.

    • Kevin East March 1, 2011 at 4:17 pm #

      Now that is some good advice. Thanks for posting, Stan. Apparently, these are the points you made in your letter to the same young man this past week. Love it.

  3. Jonathan April 28, 2012 at 1:48 pm #

    “he that thinks he stands should be careful lest he fall”
    I wish I had been told that it is very easy to fall and backslide from God’s ways. i wish i was told that i am most vulnerable shortly after a spiritual high!
    I was raised in a Christian home, soon grew to become a leader in my university church…
    But, a few weeks after handing over the reins of leadership, after feeling like paul when he wrote ” I have fought the good fight, I have finished my race”, I FELL! I fell so badly, it hurts to think of the things I did.
    Thinking back, I see how the devil made me relax and set my guard down, thus permitting an influx of sexual sin.

    I also wish I was told that God not only forgives, He forgets! And that guilt, depressing guilt is from the devil. I came to learn and appreciate the boundless grace of God and His capacity to restore

    • Kevin East May 4, 2012 at 9:13 am #

      I appreciate you sharing such brutal truth, Jonathan. As you said, thank God for His limitless grace. There is no God like Him!