You recently wrote me a very thought-provoking letter that every teacher should feel honored to receive, yet hesitate to respond to because of the wisdom needed to pen the truth. I have delayed answering for that very reason. I pray that my response comes not from my heart, but from God’s.
You asked: “What are the right choices? Obviously, the first would be to remember God, but I am requesting the little things. If you can’t do the little, how do you do the big? So I ask, what are the right steps? What would be good to know? What makes a responsible adult?”
The right choices are those that honor God, for you were created for that purpose. The only way to know what He would have you do, is by building your relationship with Him. You do this by spending time with Him in a sincere state of mind. Make reading your Bible, praying, and listening the hightest priority of your day, and then look for opportunities to do the right thing. Sometimes the right things are little things, like you mentioned, but in the end they turn out to be the most significant because they are preparing you for the bigger challenges ahead. If you can’t be respectful to your mom, how will you be respectful to your wife? If you can’t be patient with your younger siblings, how will you be patient with your own children? If you can’t be honest on a test, how will you be trusted in a business? If you don’t follow through on your homework, how will you follow through on paying your bills? Etc. Jesus said that to whom much is given, much is required, and to those who can be trusted with small responsibilities, more responsibility will be entrusted to them.
You also inquired: “How do I know what God tells me?” I know you read the Bible and you struggle with thinking of it as God’s direct word to you, but it is. When you feel distant from God, the best thing is to continue doing what you know is right and take some extra time out to be still and listen. Get up early in the morning if you have to, tell God what is on your heart, and then begin reading the Bible. Write down everything that speaks to your heart and also write down how you can it apply it to your life that day. Perhaps right now God is teaching you self-discipline or patience. We can’t demand an answer from Him; He will reply in His time.
Your third round of questions: “How am I to be a gentleman and what do girls consider quality in a guy? I take notes one day and then they’re useless the next. How do I know the right girl?”
A gentleman makes a practice of respect. I know that it is a challenge for young men these days, to practice the art of gentlemanly behavior. Women say they want it, but they often mock it when they see it. Stand firm and don’t revert to their level. Be a gentleman no matter how hard it is. Never give a girl a hard time or roughhouse with her. Keep your word. Maintain your honor. Treat women as the ladies they should be; this could mean you will have to speak the truth if they are behaving inappropriately towards you. Limit physical contact with the opposite sex. Your conduct will attract the type of girl you are looking for. A lady will recognize a gentleman and respect him for it. That is the kind of girl you want, when the time is right.
And lastly, the most challenging question of all: “What makes a man a Man?” A man doesn’t let other people decide who he is, he decides for himself. That was Jesus. People wanted to make Him king of an earthly realm, or a zealot for their cause, or a miracle worker for their every whim and fancy. He knew that He came to fulfill His Father’s will of redeeming us to Himself, and he followed through, no matter what the cost. At times His calling required extreme compassion and patience; other times, it demanded rebuking evildoers. It always involved consistent time spent alone with God so that He could know and obey His Father’s will. Jesus is your example of a true Man – strong and kind, focused and patient, warrior and shepherd, passionate and disciplined, humble and dignified, honorable and willing to stand alone, honest and sacrificial, provider, protector, and leader.
I hope, dear Student, that these answers give you a little more guidance in the direction you are desiring to walk. I am confident in your noble heart and I will always be proud of the man that Jesus designed you to be. I remain ever privileged to be,