“What’s your best piece of life advice?” It’s a simple question, but would you know your answer? Based on one’s experiences, this answer changes vastly depending on the person answering it. Everyone has a different childhood, a different family life, different experiences, and a different number of years on this earth.
Even though each of these people are in some way tied to the Westminster community, that certainly does not mean they have all had the same relationships, stories, and struggles. Some grew up in a small town, some in a big city, and some have not even fully “grown up.” But whether someone has suffered trials or lived a fairly trouble-free life, each experience from each person offers an opportunity to learn and grow and apply those lessons to one’s own life.
Laiyla Roff, 6: “Stay safe by trusting God.”
Fisher Knerr, 13: “Don’t care what other people think of you.”
Isabelle Clawson, 14: “I would advise everyone to keep their eyes pointed towards Christ and follow God’s word throughout life just because I’ve learned that’s the only thing that helps me get through some rough times in my life.”
Chase Borage, 15: “I would say to stay grounded in the word and surround yourself with people who will lead you in the ways of Christ. Because, if you have God as your rock, what is able to move you?”
Natalie Klein, 16: “I like to think that life gets better. Where you are now isn’t where you’re going to be in a year, or even a week. You’re not held to what happens in the past or present, and growth comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes. You are not your past actions, but who you make yourself.”
Lizzy Crowe, 17: “Enjoy the years of your life where your parents pay for everything because soon they’ll be gone.”
Sydney Wurdack, 18: “Live one day at a time with everything going on. It can be easy to get down and be stuck in the past but we all gotta keep going.”
Brooke Lemp, 22: First things first. It’s important to manage time and prioritize what needs to be done first.
Elizabeth Schmidt, 24: “Your time is limited, don’t spend it living someone else’s life.”
Aaron Vossen, 28: “BE HONEST. So much of our troubles today can stem back to not being honest. Not being honest with ourselves, with others, and ultimately not being honest with God. Also, some of the deepest wounds come from when others aren’t honest with us.”
Jacob Stull, 29: “To find and live a good life one must seek to answer this question truthfully, ‘What is the purpose of my life?’ If and when you have found the true answer to this question, then let that purpose drive your life, not your plan for it.”
Allison Pautler, 36: “Spend time every morning in God’s Word and in prayer. It is by far the very best way to start your day! And find good friends who will hold you accountable and help you grow!”
Brian Maloy, 36: “Find things to be grateful for every day.”
Lauren Simpson, 37: “The Lord loves you more deeply than you know, and the only way to fully know and love yourself and to live your fullest purpose is to devote your life to loving Him and, by extension, the imperfect but incredible people in this world who He has made in His image.”
Kyle Roff, 37: “You reap what you sow, you become what you spend your time doing.”
Kable Cunningham, 38: “In short, Feed your faith and starve your temptations. In long, set yourself up for lasting success in this life and the life to come. Surround yourself with God’s truth and seek to live God’s truth out in obedience to Him. Dig into a church community, be willing to be vulnerable and share life with others, study God’s Word, listen to the preaching of God’s Word. Pray! Just keep praying! And say no to sin. Run from it, flee! I think all too often we ‘play with fire’, we forget how serious and deadly sin is and let it hang around us, or keep it around cause it makes us feel good in the moment. But sin is so empty and only and always leads to death and destruction, except for the grace of God.”
Dan Burke, 38: Don’t be afraid to embrace responsibility for things that God has deemed to be good.
Heather Marsee, 40: “Be fully present — wherever you are, be all there.”
Jason Wilkins, 42: “Ecclesiastes [1:13-15] says, “All things are full of weariness; a man can not utter it…it is an unhappy business that God has given to the children of man…all is vanity and a striving after wind.” Life in this broken world sucks. It sucks so much that there are days you will hardly be able to take it. It’s okay to feel that way. But despair kills. You will either give up on life altogether, or you will find hope somewhere. There are small things that make life worth living, and God says our suffering is not in vain. As cliche as it sounds, figure out what it means when Jesus promises hope and life. Apart from Him, all is meaningless and despair. It won’t be easy. It will be confusing. But, Peter said, “where else will I go? For you alone have the words of life.” Where will you go? Where is life in the midst of this s[…]hole we call earth? One place. In one person. Jesus of Nazarath. God made flesh.
Ashley Woodall, 45: “You don’t have to clean yourself up before coming to the Lord. He is ready to welcome you with open arms. Just come and believe. ‘The gospel says you are more sinful and flawed than you ever dared believe, but more accepted and loved than you ever dared hope.’—Tim Keller. John 6:37: ‘….whoever comes to me I will never cast out.’ Don’t run from hard things. Remember to lean on God. He is there and he can and will use this time to help you grow. ‘And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.’ – Romans 8:28”
Karen Pollack, 49: “Treat all people as image-bearers of God. Recognizing that all people are made in God’s image impacts all of our relationships. God puts people in our lives for a purpose; it’s often the people who are most different from us that we learn from the most. One of my favorite quotes is from C.S. Lewis, ‘There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal.’”
John Sarra, 50: “Don’t ask ‘Can I…?’, ask ‘What if…?’ That question forces you to think, to dream, to anticipate what might come next. And it helps you to take responsibility for it. It’s a good way to take risks and try new things!”
Kim Graham, 50: “1. Problems and burdens of any kind always seem more overwhelming in the night when you’re tired. I make it a practice never to text back/email back/call back or make important decisions when it’s late. Let important matters wait until the light of day–when your thinking and perspective are much more clear and your energy fresh. 2. Another piece of guidance I’ve received over the years is the importance of “just showing up”–the value of faithfully committing to a group or an activity. My husband calls this concept, ‘The Rewards of the Faithful.’ You don’t know if a particular church sermon, or optional lecture, or chapel, or concert, or sports event is going to be amazing before you attend. You may not know if it will be ‘worth your time.’ Sometimes it won’t, I suppose, and you’ll think: ‘I could have done x or y.’ But, if you faithfully show up–faithfully attend church, for instance, or FCA or anything else you’ve deemed valuable–you will most certainly reap the rewards of being a part of some amazing experiences that cannot be replicated–experiences no one could have specifically anticipated and or guaranteed in advance would be so life-changing.”
Aaron Layton, 50: “Ecclesiastes 12:13 says ‘Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.’ Live with an awareness of God, his word, and his purpose for your life.”
Luke Davis, 51: “Never continue dating someone if you get to the point that you don’t want to marry them.”
Ken Wolfe, 52: “a. ‘There are no solutions, there are only trade-offs.’ – Thomas Sowell, American economist. If you’re looking for the perfect solution or panacea to a problem, you must realize that there is no such perfection. When you realize that you must make trade-offs to gain the progress you desire, then it frees you to move forward. Seeking perfection can stump a person. This leads me to the next bit: b. “Everything costs something.” – everything that you seek to do, have, or be has a cost. The cost can simply be time or attention, could be money or resources, might be wear & tear on one’s body, could be the loss of opportunity or experience, might be forsaking a different path of life. For example, ballet dancers create such artistry, but their feet pay a price. Leaders may affect great positive change in the world but they sometimes pay at the expense of personal life/relationships. The pursuit of fame might cost the peace of anonymity and normality. Even if one devotes one’s life to Jesus, then there will be the cost of living differently and possibly without some of what the world promotes as enjoyable. On the other hand, those very ways of living promoted by the world that seem so free in the moment can have a tremendous and direly dear cost in the end. No matter what it is one chooses, it will have a cost. Just like the previous bit by Mr. Sowell, if one understands this then it can make it easier to move forward wisely and to look back on one’s choices without regret (or, at least, less of it). To that end, ‘Trust God, and floss.’”
Gina Meeks, 57: “Be a person of character trusting fully on Jesus and the Holy Spirit as a guide.”
Susie Brown, 63: “Don’t be afraid to try new things. Some of my best experiences were when I stepped outside my comfort zone and tried something new!”
Andrew Shaw, 71: “I cannot think of anything better than Luke 10:27…
And he answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.’”
The best way to get to know someone is to hear their stories. Obviously, it would be quite difficult to fit in even a short story for everyone involved with this study. But the question they were all asked suffices to summarize these peoples’ stories because through the advice they gave, one gets a glimpse into what is most valuable in their life. So, take this advice or leave it. But each person left a piece of their story here, and that piece can connect even the most different of people through common lessons.