Recently, I was with my friend Dale Alexander and he told me something he does with his kids every year at Christmas. He writes them a letter and puts it in their stockings. His kids love it. This year he had the idea to write a letter he would write to himself as a young person. He and I would like to challenge you to write a letter to your kids and put it in their stocking. A sample of Dale’s letter for his kids this year is below. What would your letter say? What wisdom would you like to pass on to your kids this year?
A Letter to my Younger Self
I recently saw a sign that read, “Be the person you needed when you were younger.” After reading that, I knew my letter this year should be the message I needed when mom and I were your age. Looking back now, life could have been tremendously easier and richer had I known what I know now. Wisdom is not wasted on youth, and as I age, I’d like to make things easier on you by sharing what would have made life much more successful had I known, and followed some simple rules. So here goes:
Care for people.
A life chasing after your own desires and wants will find you an empty, shallow and lonely life. Society tells us to follow our own wishes and dreams, but most of society is unhappy, anxious and miserable. That is not working. Living for ourselves doesn’t bring peace, only anxiety and a lack of joy. God put within us a need to serve others, and to go against that inherent need steals God’s purpose for our gifts and talents. So, each day, I would ask you to find some way to bless others. Maybe a smile, a door opened, pay for a cup of coffee, something kind. It will be returned back a million times. Give it away to get it (one day that will make sense).
Do what you love.
Make a career- not just a job- out of your passion. Then, when you figure out your passion, put every ounce of effort you have into studying the most you can about it. You will not stay successful long in something you do not enjoy, and would you really want to? As the saying goes, “Do what you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.”
Control your habits.
Anything done too much leads to death. Habits are the keystone to success. Develop healthy and responsible disciplines daily that help you become stronger, healthier individuals. Stay in shape. Keep your body and your mind moving. Stay away from drugs and alcohol, as millions of lives, relationships and marriages are ruined by these two evils that are working to deceive you.
Be a person of honesty and integrity.
In our relationships, trust is the most important personal quality we can hold. Your marriage, your job, your friendships will fail if this one quality is lost. God wants our word to be our bond. People should never wonder if what you say means what you say. If they have to, life will be infinitely harder on your family.
Character leaves a wake.
As a boat leaves a wake in its path behind, our lives leave a trail also. Your two grandfathers left behind lives that make our walks easier. We are lifted by the mere mention of their names. Will you live a life that people think the best when they hear your name and your family’s name? By doing these things in this letter, you most surely will. It is easy, but that is why it is also hard.
Follow the teachings of Christ.
Nothing I can tell you will determine your quality of life as much as this last piece of advice. You career, marriage, parenting and life will rise or fall on your desire to follow Jesus Christ. He modeled every quality and characteristic needed to lead the largest corporations, armies or countries. You have his rules and wisdom in your Bibles. People who were there and watched him wrote it down. Read it.
We pray for you all every day. We want the best for you. If you will follow these rules, I GUARANTEE you will have success. And not success as the world defines it (although you will have that too), but success as defined by what God wants from and for us.
Like Him, we are FOR you. We will always be on the sidelines cheering for you. Just be wise enough to take this wisdom. Learn from us, but make your own path. We can’t wait to watch.
Mom and Dad
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What is the most important advice you have ever received?”