When you have empathy for others, it's not easy! Empathy is when you know what a person is going through because you've been there (this is not to be confused with sympathy. Sympathy is just feeling bad for someone but you have no personal connection with their situation)! I bring this up because lately, I have felt like the weight of the world has been on my shoulders as it relates to you young guys. What really rocks me to the core is when I see young men making some of the same mistakes I made growing up. Things like trying to fit in, taking crazy risks to get "cool points" (we called them "brownie points" when I grew up), or compromising so you won't be rejected by your "friends", eat me alive. That's because I know the damaging effects of negative peer pressure! I know that one of the hardest times of my life was during the adolescent age, and guess what? I teach this age group. Coincidence? Absolutely not. I know that God strategically arranged for me to be here.
The point I want to make in this tip is to encourage you young men to know what you're living for. Better yet, know who you're living for. Ultimately, knowing what and who you're living for should be the driving forces of the decisions you make in life. If you're living your life for the purpose in which you were created, then people-pleasing and making risky decisions have no place, right? Don't get me wrong. I know part of the teenage experience is about having fun and doing dumb stuff. I'm not saying that everything you do will be perfect and you have to act like a 30-year-old while you're a teen. Have fun but there are non-negotiables. There are things you know you have no business doing and no one has to tell you that.
One of the driving forces of my life right now is seeing you grow up to be men of character, substance, purpose, and direction. If you don't know what or who you're living for, then you need to find out. Once you do, hang around people that push you toward your purpose. If you hang around people that convince you to break the law or do other things are absolutely wrong, you need to choose a new group of friends. Sorry to have to make it so plain but it's the truth. That's pretty much all I have to say.
Written 11/4/2013 by John Weaver