I am so excited for my nephew, who is just about to start his first day of high school! As he makes the jump from middle to upper school this summer, I felt compelled to hand-write him a letter of advice and encouragement for the monumental occasion. I’ve typed up my hand-written letter below as a resource to share with you!
If you know a young teen who is about to start their high school career, why not serve as an adult investor in their life with a hand-written letter of encouragement? You can use elements from my letter below and then customize it with your own advice. I specifically wrote my letter for a young man, but you could easily modify it to suit a female recipient.
In a few short days, you will begin that fateful journey through high school that we have all taken before. I can still remember my first day of high school – even which shirt I wore! It was the start of a blessed and enjoyable four years for me.
This transition into high school is an important one, because it marks the end of your late adolescence, and the beginning of your journey towards becoming a man. It is for this reason that I compose this letter to you, and I hope it can be both a challenge and an encouragement to you – both now as you read it for the first time, and also (I am hopeful) it can serve you over and over again during the four years to come.
You are a very blessed young man: blessed not only with material comforts and abundant opportunities, but also with intelligence, personality, skill as a leader, and influence. And to whom much is given, much is required. These gifts have not been given to you merely for your own personal enjoyment and gratification, although nothing brings satisfaction quite like a fruitfully-used talent! These gifts are the things God has given you to bless the world, bring the Kingdom nearer, and generate praise for Christ.
One of the most powerful temptations you will face throughout high school will be the lure to use your gifts for selfish and temporary gain. Unfortunately, “gain” acquired in this way is often fleeting, empty, and regretful.
It is also unfortunate that many of your peers who share your abundance of opportunities, personality, and influence will look back on their high school years with many regrets for the poor stewardship of their gifts – mainly for the wasting of their gifts on vain pursuits such as popularity and material consumption and accumulation. (In fact, I know many 30- and 40-year-olds who are still stuck in the lifestyle of squandering their giftedness on vanities such as these, much to their continual disappointment…)
You will not share their regrets, though, if you resolve NOW – at the very beginning of your journey into manhood – even before your very first day of high school – to give right back to God all of the gifts and talents and opportunities He gives to you, through the daily living of your life for His glory. This is not a journey of perfection – you will make mistakes, and those are okay, especially when quickly and honestly given to God. No, even though you will make mistakes along the way, you will never regret doing the right thing.
You stand now on the brink of a critical period in your life – four of the most important formative years lay before you. You have the opportunity right now to choose who and what you will be in high school. And that decision will greatly influence who and what kind of person you will be as an adult.
The summer before my freshman year, I made four pivotal decisions about what I wanted to accomplish during high school:
- I wanted to have perfect attendance. I had missed a lot of school during my K-8 years because of childhood asthma, and was sick and tired of having to do all that make-up work!
- I wanted to get all A’s in high school. Just to see if I could.
- I wanted to do well enough in high school that I would get a full scholarship to college. My family did not have the money to pay for my college education, so I knew that it would be my responsibility to pay for it, and academics would be my best shot.
- I wanted to be the student body president at some point during high school.
These four goals really set my course and helped me keep to it throughout the next four years. Now I don’t say this to be braggy or boastful, but just to show you the power you have RIGHT NOW to chart your course in life by making and sticking to a few clear, attainable goals through high school: with God’s help, I was able to achieve all of my goals except for #2 – I wasn’t able to make all A’s all four years…
You have a lot of positive momentum going with the way you are choosing to life your life right now: you love your family; you respect your parents; you are leading your younger siblings well; you carry yourself with a quiet confidence; you don’t seem to be obsessed with impressing people…
Invite God into these next four years. Ask Him to help you set your own goals for high school. What do you want to accomplish with the next four years? Ask Him what He wants to do in and through you over the next four years. Once you have a list of three or four things, write them down and share them with someone you trust.
A man’s strength is in his character. And I can clearly see the building blocks of genuine character in you. Continue to cultivate your character, honesty, valor, selflessness, and integrity all throughout high school, and your strength as a young man will by built and fortified by age 18!
May you listen to and follow God day by day as He guides and blesses you. And please feel free to call me anytime, for anything at all! I’m grateful for you, and I’m proud of you. I love you and I wish you all of God’s very best for your high school career!