Investing in the Next Generation

Investing in the Next Generation

Over the past five years, I have had the chance to do some intentional work with high school seniors in Nashville. These are seventeen and eighteen year olds who are busy filling out college applications and preparing to make that major life transition in the near future. Along with their head of school, my primary goal is to get them to think about the bigger picture of life, matters of character, values, relationships, and to reflect upon the kind of person they want to become. In the process, I have also tried to pass along wisdom and hard lessons that I have learned from the generation ahead of me. Here are some of the things we have discussed.

Know your priorities and live them. Develop a spiritual life at a young age. Don’t work too hard at the expense of your family. Find the sacred balance between work and family. Enjoy every stage of life as it comes because it all goes by quickly and you can’t turn back the clock. Be kind to everyone because kindness is a manifestation of love. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Listen more than you talk. Work hard and then play hard. Make faith a priority in your marriage and family life. Be proud but not prideful, confident but not arrogant. Maturity comes with age and experience. Disappointment is inevitable. Be gentle and compassionate. Try to become a person that others will admire. Be the change you want to see in the world. Be optimistic and positive. Don’t dwell too much on the past which you cannot change.

Learn to enjoy what you’re doing so you never have to work a day in your life. Guard your reputation and don’t compromise your character. Stay focused on meaningful objectives and live with the end in mind. Beware of seeking instant gratification. Many of the things worth doing take a long and sustained effort. Lead by example. Don’t ask others to do things you wouldn’t do. Be humble and keep your ego in check. Learn to live within your means. Money doesn’t solve every problem. Remember that relationships matter most so nurture them and invest in them. Take nothing for granted and don’t develop an entitled mindset.

Spend quality time with your children because they will grow up faster than you think. Carve out regular time for rest and to nurture the soul. Travel with your family whenever possible to make memories that will last forever. Give it your all, whether at work or at home. Follow the example of Christ. Take care of your health at a young age because it only gets more challenging. Marry somebody who can put you in your place whenever necessary. In relationships and marriage, avoid criticism, defensiveness, and especially contempt. Cultivate friendships that will last a lifetime. Tell the truth, even when it’s hard and inconvenient. Be true to your values and be the same person no matter who you might be around. Love others even when they’ve hurt you, and don’t forget the importance of forgiveness and letting things go. Approach every day as a gift because we never know about tomorrow. Don’t worry incessantly and needlessly. Trust that things will turn out fine, even if it’s not what you had planned.

I learned many of these things from mentors when I was young. My hope and prayer is that our younger generations, who are growing up in a challenging world, will continue to gain wisdom from those who have gone before us.


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