AFTER HIGH SCHOOL
by Joel Johns
Sadly, many teenagers who are at a pivotal point in their lives are unaware of the existing attack on their minds and the distorted lens es through which they can view the potential. At this point in their lives, teenagers are making critical decisions that will affect and dictate their future. Unfortunately, some students in our churches and youth groups will make choices that will shape their future into a design that is not the original plan God has for them. It pains me to see a young person experiencing hurtful encounters that could have been avoided. I’ve been there and done that.
I believe that there are two innate desires that are at the forefront of the soon-to-be released teenage mind. These two aspirations, which are abundantly repetitive in the teenage life, are to experience and to conquer. From my personal past of limited success and abundant failures I would like to share my heart and ad vice with the indestructible teenager who is faced with difficult decisions in the near future.
I would first like to address the in nate desire to experience. I believe that young people can be compelled, drawn, and challenged to explore, have fun, live life to the fullest, and be adventurous without the bound aries of guidelines or convictions. Unfortunately, any sense of rea soning and common sense can be quickly dismissed with an opportunity or opening for a cheap thrill or rush. Many teenagers make decisions for their future that push them closer to encountering the exciting, daring, and damaging experience of their youthful fantasy. These experiences can easily occur by being free from accountability and control. Because of this, young people might be tempted to choose a location for education or occupation based solely on the fact that they will be removed from the umbrella of supervision. There must be an understanding that the price of a cheap thrill or adventure can be much higher than the average young person is willing to pay.
In II Timothy 3:4, Paul reminds Timothy that as the end times approach, men shall be “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.” In response to this, we must “Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (II Timothy 2:22). I challenge you to abandon any decisions that are based on pleasure for a sea son and unrewarding experiences. Let the desires of the youth of our generation be kingdom-minded and dwell on what will please God more than what will please ourselves. Let our generation’s cry be that of the psalmist David in Psalm 19:14, “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.”
The second destructive desire that is seeping into the hearts and minds of this generation is to conquer. We live in and are surrounded by a success-driven society. There is great pressure to achieve accolades by the world’s standards. Degrees and diplomas, large bank accounts, and excessive gain of material goods are pushed and promoted at every turn. I am a proponent of education and an admirer and respecter of hard workers; however, the pursuit and priority of these desires cannot take the place of doctrinal beliefs. We cannot let anything stand in the way of the progress of our relationship with God.
Jesus said, “But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:20-21). I believe that we must evaluate our desires for the future to see where our hearts are. There must be a shift in our values and focus. We must have the understanding of the words of Jesus, “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26). Instead of the pursuit of gain, there must be the pursuit of God.I congratulate you who are soon to graduate for your hard work and for finishing what you started. Let me remind you that with the upcoming privilege and reward of graduating from high school comes the great responsibility of making wise choices for your future. The most important thing—before education, before career, and before great experience—is your relationship with God. Your
choices will affect your soul. It’s up to you to determine if they will have a positive or negative effect.
I leave you with this thought from Acts 4:13: “Now when they [rulers, elders, scribes, and high priests] saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.” This world might respect and also recognize your career, your academic accomplishments, and your success, but if you are separated unto God and have a connection with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, this world will know the difference. They will marvel and they will be in awe and amazement when you live a bold, unashamed, and separated life that is pleasing unto Him!
I challenge you to be faithful to God in prayer and dedication to His Word. I challenge you to be separated from the pressure to experience and conquer. Resist things that can be damaging and harmful to your soul. Base your decisions, your ambitions, and your desires on what is pleasing and acceptable in the sight of God. He will reward and bless the servant that diligently seeks after Him.