african businessman with arms crossedSo far I have had an interesting and fulfilling life. Reflecting on this, I think it’s a result of some things I have held on to that have always been important to me. Some of them I learned early in life… others only recently… some with great difficulty.

1. Life-Long Learning. High school graduation is just the start of becoming knowledgeable. Be a life-long learner. Find fun and pleasure in learning things. Some things can be self-taught, but for others we need wise teachers. You will never be too old to learn. And not to continually learn in today’s society is to fall behind.

2. Work. Enjoy work and be happy there. If you can’t find fulfillment and happiness in your job, find one in which you can. Match your passion with your vocation. It’s a lot easier that way. Work, while essential to living a happy and fulfilled life, can be both a blessing and a curse. It is a blessing because all the material things you need in life is a direct result of work, the negative side of this is that work can take over your life and ruin it and your family relationships. Work needs always to be kept in balance with your relationships. My father taught me three things about work: get there early, don’t complain, and every job is a job worth doing well. What he didn’t tell me was that success at work usually means a sacrifice for the family.

3. Friends. I never realized until I was much older that a man is lucky in his life if he can count the number of his friends on one hand; that is, five real friends is a great achievement! It is always better to have friends rather than acquaintances. But friendship takes a lot of time and work. A friend is a person with whom you can trust and rely on. And that takes time. And you must be, in turn, a person who is reliable and trustworthy. My father always told me that you are only as good as your word. So be cautious with your words and your promises. Do what you say you are going to do — and let your word always be your bond.

4. Family. If you choose to be married and raise a family, pick a partner who is first and foremost your best friend. Love is always about respect, mutuality and teamwork, not about dominance. Sex is always best when it is with a person whom you love and respect and to whom you have made a life-long commitment. When considering marriage, make sure you and your partner work well together as a team; that you share the same hopes and dreams, and that you have the highest respect for one another — that’s what sustains love through the years. I have found out that it is not enough for a woman to love you, she must also respect you. Gaining her respect is your job, not hers.

5. Health. Life is a lot easier if you begin to take care of your health at an early age. This we know about health, if we smoke, abuse alcohol and other drugs, drive recklessly, and treat others as objects, it will significantly shorten both the quality and duration of our life. Develop a life-long practice of eating well, getting enough sleep, and exercising. You also need to get an annual physical examination and take care of your teeth (and don’t forget about seat belts and sunblock).

6. Problems. Everyone has problems. Life is a series of problems. You cannot go through life without having some big ones. The test regarding problems is how we approach and handle them. My advice to you is to consider the problems you encounter as challenges — 20 percent of any problem you encounter is the problem itself, and 80 percent it is how you respond to it. When confronting a problem, or other adversity, face it head on. Be honest with yourself, seek advice, consider your alternatives, choose the best one, keep the whole thing in perspective, and you will overcome it. After overcoming any problem or adversity, you will quickly find out that the farther down life’s road you go, the smaller the trouble related to it will seem.

7. Spirituality. God may not be big in your life right now. You are growing into a man and most men think they are in charge. My relationship with God through Jesus Christ has helped me live a better life. I can remember when God was in my life and when God was not. I now have chosen God. It is easy to forget God during your busy years of early manhood But there is a “big picture” out there — and we are not the center. Two important truths exist: There is a God. And we are not him. Learn to know God, honor God and pray. Live a life of integrity. You’ll be amazed how much easier and worthwhile your life will be.

I know that regardless of what anyone says, you will make your own decisions – some of them will be not the best and you will suffer like we all did, but as you go on into manhood — learn from your mistakes.

While you may have had a father that was absent – either physically or emotionally, or a father who did not live up to your expectations, that does not have to rule your life. Those of us who have come from a family without a father or a father who was abusive, we can break the cycle. We can be the men God created us to be:

“Created in the God’s image,
Wild without being cruel,
Angry without being violent,
Sexual without being coercive,
Spiritual without being unsexed and able to truly love.”

Young man, I bless you on your journey.


This article was originally published by kaecollection.