(What follows is a letter I wrote to a young man at the beginning of his senior year of high school…)
I have another young friend that I have known since he was in the 7th grade as a member of the Velocity middle school program back in Columbus. His parents have become dear friends of mine and Dianna’s. It has been my honor to watch this boy mature into young manhood through Velocity, school, church, and sports involvement. I even got to go on a mission trip together with him and his family and a group from our church a couple of summers ago!
He is now about to begin his senior year of high school, and the world is at his feet. I want the very best for him. His parents, who have labored in prayer for him everyday of his life, want the best for him 1,000 times more than I do. And his Heavenly Father wants the best for him 1,000 times more than they do.
I wanted to write my young friend a letter before he entered this last fateful year of high school and prepared to enter adulthood. Here below is a genericized version of what I wrote to him. Like my previous Letter to a High School Freshman, please feel free to take this letter and adapt it for the 12th-grader in your own life with your own words of wisdom and encouragement.
My Dear Friend,
It’s your SENIOR YEAR!!! WHAAAT?!? That’s awesome! You are in for one of the best years of your life – if you choose to make it that way. My senior year of high school was one of my most favorite years of all time – so much fun, so many great experiences and memories, some of my most rapid and long-standing spiritual growth… It was a tremendous year, for sure!
As a high school senior, you are certainly maturing and growing more independent – you are very close to adulthood. But in another way, it’s your last year ever to be a “kid”. You’re still in preparatory school, and you’re still living under your parents’ covering and provision. You’re still a “minor” (at least until you turn 18).
If you can keep these two realities in balance – the reality of being an almost-adult AND the reality of still being in your final year of kid-hood, you can have an AMAZING year as a senior!
A lot of high school seniors waste what should be a great year by living in the future – rushing ahead mentally and emotionally and physically into adulthood, although they’re not really ready. Others ruin this precious year of their lives with a lot of stupid, childish decisions, as if they were still a 9th- or 10th-grader. Others make their only senior year a living hell for themselves by pre-maturely “promoting” themselves above their parents’ authority and protection, exposing themselves to all kinds of unnecessary dangers and temptations.
There are, though, a few who really make the very most of their senior year and carry away from it lifelong, regret-free experiences and memories that are awesome and super-fun! That’s what I hope for you for your senior year!
You have a lot of power this year as a senior – power to make a lot of heart-breaking choices which could result in lifelong consequences and regret. This same power gives you the opportunity to leave a positive legacy in the lives of others – others in your own family, others in your senior class, and all the underclassmen at your school.
You’re on top this year. Everyone in your school is looking up to you now. They want to be like you, and follow your example. Thus, the decisions you make this year mean more than any other year prior to now – because so many younger, impressionable students are watching your life so closely. Give them a legacy worthy of being followed!
The simple fact is this: you will be remembered for something. Years from now, people will point to your picture in their yearbook and say, “Man, he really was a _______.” The beautiful thing is, you have the chance right now to decide what words people will use to fill in that blank.
- Honor your parents during this last year under their roof.
- Help and serve others.
- Abstain from alcohol.
- Treat females with honor and respect.
- Do your best academically.
- And beyond that, just have a TON of wise and safe FUN! You only have one senior year.
Most importantly of all, commit your senior year to God. Invite Him into every single day. Ask Jesus to show you what His idea of REAL abundant life is like. And then, give Him room to show you the extraordinary and to do the extraordinary through YOU!
I love you, bro – and I’m so proud of you. I hope this year is your best year yet!
your friend — nick
*This post inspired by Dee Dee Stephens, whose pivotal conversation with a high school senior 27 years ago launched an awesome peer-mentoring organization that would impact tens of thousands of students’ lives (and which continues, strong as ever, to this day!).