If I could go back to certain key periods of my life, what counsel would my older self give my younger self? That’s the question behind this short video…
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give to 15 year old Tim?
15-year-old Tim had, I think, just kind of committed myself to the Lord. So, I had been raised in a Christian home, I had parents who loved me and prayed for me and took me to church and preached the Gospel to me. I think it was around when I was 15 or so that I really decided, no, I’m not just following my parents’ faith, this is my faith. I’m not just following behind my parents, I’m actually following the Lord. So, that was a pivotal moment for me, obviously. And, it led to some separation between my peer group and myself.
What are some things I wish I had done back then? I think I would tell myself to really commit to the spiritual disciplines, to really learn to read and pray. Maybe to seek out some older people beyond my parents that would help model the Christian life to me and really challenge me.
I think I’d really want to work on sexual self-control as a young person. To really understand this is important, this matters and patterns you set now in life are going to stick with you unless you’re very very careful. So learn now to exemplify that trait of self-control.
What advice would you give to yourself at 19 years old?
At 19 years old I think I was just kind of finishing up a degree at university and just starting to date Aileen, I believe, if I’ve got my numbers straight. So, what would I have wanted to tell myself then? I think I would want to really commit to church, meaningful church membership. To be part of a church, to understand the role of sound doctrine in a church, that it really really does matter. And at that time I was blessed to be in a church that took that seriously, but I think I didn’t appreciate it as much as I should have.
I think to take seriously the role of older people in my life, and I know I said that when I was 15, but I think it was in these years I really started to realize how much that mattered.
I’d also say to really learn to be an evangelist, to share your faith. You get many opportunities in these years when you’re in university and starting into a career. Many opportunities to share the Gospel, and I was very reserved in doing that, very shy, and I think that set a bad trajectory into my life where I just didn’t get accustomed to being freely free in sharing the Gospel.
And then I would say, in these years you’re going to start to date, probably start to form relationships. Commit to purity. That means inviting those older people you’ve got involved in your life, inviting them or your parents or pastor, someone to check up on you. Someone to really ensure that you’re not following the lusts of the flesh but you are being pure in your relationships, you’re really getting good trajectories that will take you through dating, through engagement, and into marriage.
What advice would you give to yourself at 21 years old?
21-year-old Tim was getting married. I got married at 21. And starting to realize what life was really about. So, both Aileen and I had, on the day of our wedding, had left our parents’ homes where we had lived. We never lived apart from our families. We left our families, went off to the church, got married, and then went off to live life on our own. And that was a wonderful thing. We’re both very thankful for it.
21-year-old Tim needed to put a lot of sin to death. He needed to understand the selfishness that I’d brought into life and to understand that living with someone else, being married to someone else really is dying to self, coming alive to righteousness for that person. I think one way I really relaxed in life in this point was spiritual disciplines, letting those things go. I think I was immature in that way and just sort of enjoying the freedom now of not having parents around, not having family structures. We broke away from doing family devotions, we didn’t pick those up for a few years. So I think there was this kind of laxness in my life that was maybe just part of growing up, part of independence, and yet it manifested itself in marriage because I had just gotten married. So, very much, I think 21-year-old self would have learned from 40-year-old self.
What would you say to 30 year old Tim?
30-year-old Tim had three children. He was in a very different place in life. So, got married at 21, by the time we were 22, we were expecting and my son was born when I was 22 years old, followed pretty quickly by a daughter and then by, 30th birthday, followed by a third child. So, 30-year-old Tim had three kids, was in a very different spot in life, really enjoying life.
I think we had learned some important things along the way. We had learned about church membership. In that period we had transitioned out of a church where there were a lot of problems theologically, but then also with that meaningful church membership, we’ve talked about. By age 30 we had really realized the importance of being in a church that was theologically sound. A church that had a high bar for membership, in the sense of there where many expectations, also many benefits for being part of this church.
I had learned a lot about family devotions. We picked that up along the way and realized how important it is to be reading and praying as a family. I think I also had to learn a lot about being a spiritual leader in my home, mostly in the sense of modeling Godliness. So, so much of spiritual leadership is not saying, come along, here’s what we’re doing, I’m charting the direction for this family. Far more than anything else, it’s being Godly and modeling Godliness. It took me a long time to pick up. By 30 years old, I’m marveling at the grace of God in my life, I know how undeserving I am, I see all the ways that God has blessed me and I’m just so so thankful.