I hope my last letter helped you get caught up to where we are.
No one likes admitting to making mistakes, and it is amazing what lengths we go to to try and cover up our mistakes and failures. Below are three reasons why it is a waste of time to try to cover up our mistakes and failures:
1. Covering up our sins and failures never causes us to prosper. Proverbs 28:13 says: “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.”
2. People who are not transparent rarely help other people.
3. Many people already have your number—you just don’t know that they do.
I remember while I was a student at Baptist University of America in Decatur, Georgia, we had mandatory chapel services each morning at around 11:00. We had a different preacher each chapel hour. I enjoyed most of the preachers who preached, but there was one preacher by the name of Raymond Hancock who visited regularly, and whom the entire student body loved to hear. The difference between this preacher and the other preachers was like night and day. The reason is that this preacher had the humility and ability to not only preach the Word of God, but to be transparent at the same time. It made all the difference. I learned through those chapel services that the great preachers and the preachers who help people the most are those who keep it real.
With that said, allow me to share with you some personal and painful mistakes that I made in my early years. My purpose in sharing these mistakes with you is so you would avoid them, because contrary to popular belief, some mistakes done in youth leave scars that can last a lifetime.
The first big mistake I made as a young man was having sex before marriage. I know that may sound punkish. Nevertheless, it was a big mistake. Like so many brothers, I took pride in my sexual “conquests” for a long time. But as time went on, what I was not proud of was the pain I caused so many people: the young lady I was involved with, the mothers and fathers, the grandparents, the aunts and uncles, the children born out of wedlock, and the child that was aborted when I was only fifteen years old, because the mother and I, in ignorance and immaturity, thought it was the best thing to do at that time. This murdering of an innocent life haunts me even after thirty years.
THE LESSON IS THIS: I believe the real reason God forbids sex before marriage is because it hurts so many people for a long time—sometimes for a lifetime. Although sex is a lot of fun, it is far more a spiritual thing than a physical thing. I say it is more of a spiritual thing because it is only through sex that God brings another spiritual being into the world to fellowship with Him.
The second big mistake I made was not taking my early education seriously. I, like many of my school friends, had no idea how important our education was. In my mind, school was a place to tolerate, a place to skip, a place to run the girls, and a place to have fun. Oh, how I regret not taking my schooling seriously. Because I didn’t, I had to play catch up when I got older. Son, that is exactly where the system messes up young black men. Because many of us have the wrong mentality when we enter high school, and because the teachers don’t have the time nor the patience, they let us keep our playful, wrong mentality, and at the end of our high school days, they pass us on to graduate just to get rid of us—knowing that we haven’t learned anything. If you waste your high school days and still manage to graduate, it is very likely that you will not be able to handle college, because college work is built on high school work.
THE LESSON IS THIS: You will have plenty of time to play after you get your Doctorate. For now, don’t make the mistake I made of not taking school seriously. Learning is best done while your mind is young and while you can grasp things better. So, hit the books while there is still time.
The third big mistake that I made as a young man was running with the wrong crowd. The irony of this is, I was a preacher’s son. Not only was I a preacher’s son, but I had the same name as my dad, and on top of that, my dad was on television each Sunday morning with his Gospel program.
Being a preacher’s kid, I know the reason why many preachers’ kids are worse than the other kids. The preachers’ children are trying to fit in with the in-crowd. My friend, Bill, and I were big time preachers’ kids, yet we raised more hell, drank more liquor, and had more women than any of our other friends. We were the leaders of the pack. I remember one incident in which some of the children on the school bus were joking me about being a preacher’s son, and I blurted out, in an attempt to fit in, that “I am going to drive the bus to hell.” That is frightening, but I remember making that statement.
I remember on another occasion, one of my “girlfriends” and I were sitting on the front porch watching the sun go down. During the course of our conversation, she told me that I was going to be a preacher one day like my father. I don’t know what came over me, but I cursed her and I swore that I would never be a preacher. Why? Because while I was sitting on that porch with her that evening, preaching was not on my mind at all. I despised anything to do with preachers. I wanted to fit in, and preachers’ children normally do not fit in with the in-crowd.
THE LESSON IS THIS: Stop trying to be like others and be yourself. If you think you need a crowd, get with the crowd that is going to church and the crowd that is getting A’s in school. Lynn Swann said: “Why try to fit into a crowd that after you graduate from high school, you will probably never see again?”
As you will see in my next letter, I have made some more mistakes, but these are some of the big ones. Avoid these pitfalls, and you can save yourself a lot of heartache and trouble, and you can get down the highway of success much faster.
P.T. (Power Thoughts):
Winston Churchill said, “All men make mistakes, but only wise men learn from their mistakes.”
James Joyce said, “A man’s errors are his portals of discovery.”
Hugh White said, “When you make a mistake, don’t look back at it long. Take the reason of the thing into your mind and then look forward. Mistakes are lessons of wisdom. The past cannot be changed. The future is yet in your power.”
Ryan Cabrera said, “Running with the wrong crowd will never help you.”