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.—1 Corinthians 13:11
A young woman told me in a slightly panicked voice that she was about to turn 18. “I don’t know how to adult!” she exclaimed.
“Of course you do!” I assured her. I meant it. I am confident she is on the right track because she has had a godly upbringing, and she has honored it.
Not everyone has had the benefit of a godly heritage, and some who have require more reinforcement beyond what received at home and in the church. To the young women, who, like my friend, are intimidated by the advent of adulthood, let’s talk about five steps to becoming a Christ-honoring adult.
Immerse yourself in God’s word, and surround yourself with His people.
Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth.—Ecclesiastes 12:1
Statistically, the vast majority of young people raised in the church turn away from the Lord once they become adults. Don’t be like them. If anything, apply yourself all the more diligently to studying God’s word and being involved in your church. Also use this opportunity to purge your inner circle of people who are not running toward Jesus. Certainly you will, and should, have lost friends, but those people cannot be your influencers. You must be theirs. Remember that bad company corrupts good character (1 Corinthians 15:33). You are not exempt from yielding to dangerous influences.
Stay in church.
And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.—Hebrews 10:24-25
Pretend your mom is standing at your door and telling you you’re leaving for church in 30 minutes. Make yourself get up and go. If you go away to college, make finding a Bible-believing church your first priority, and make attending weekly your second. You’ll be faced with countless challenges that will tempt and terrorize you. Keep yourself accountable to a family of believers who will be there to support you when you don’t know where else to turn.
Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.—1 Corinthians 6:18
This is, perhaps, the biggest stumbling block young people face, and it is the one with the most significant potential repercussions – things like pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. The choices you make today will affect you in some way or another for the rest of your life. Guard your purity, and flee from anyone who tries to sweet-talk you out of it. That’s not love. That’s selfishness.
Keep mature counselors in your life, and remain humble enough to receive instruction.
The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.—Proverbs 12:15
Many young people believe they know better than their elders, especially their parents. But wisdom comes with experience. The more experience you gain, the more foolish you realize you’ve been. Seek regular counsel from an older adult—a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle or other mentor—and prayerfully consider his or her advice. And don’t even try to sugarcoat what you share. I guarantee he or she can see through it anyway.
Own your mistakes, but don’t feel trapped by them.
Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.—Romans 5:9-10
You’re going to mess up. When you do, admit your mistake, and call it YOUR mistake. Don’t blame it on your parents, your genes, your friends or your situation. Own it. But don’t wallow in it. Grab on to the hand of God, allow Him to pick you up out of the pit into which you’ve fallen, and move on. But don’t leave the lesson you learned in that pit behind you. Take it along as your life companion so you don’t find yourself in the same pit again.