Matney: What advice would you give to your younger self? |

Matney: What advice would you give to your younger self?

Since early 2013, I’ve had the privilege of leading 4 Eagle Senior Care, a ministry for the senior adults of our area. We’ve always enjoyed the interaction with various youth groups as they helped us rake a senior’s yard, wash their windows, or prepare and deliver meals to homebound seniors. Over the last three years, working around the pandemic and other disruptions, we’ve been hosting intergenerational conversations between students and seniors.  

We’re asking seniors to share their hard-earned wisdom with younger generations. We pose the question to seniors: “If you had an opportunity to travel back in time, what advice would you give to your younger self to help you avoid some mistakes and enjoy greater success?”

Recently, we helped facilitate conversations between seniors at the Castle Peak Senior Living Center in Eagle and fourth and fifth graders from Brush Creek Elementary School. We’ve done this twice, and I can’t tell you how fun and energizing it was for me as a senior adult. Those children were so engaged and enthused about life. It was contagious. It rubbed off on me and our volunteers and the seniors at the center.

We also hosted a gathering at the Eagle Library for a group of middle school girls. As I was praying and preparing for the gathering, I had such a sense of urgency come over me and I prayed passionately that we might somehow say and do something that would help the girls in their journey through life. As I pondered what to say to them, two things came to mind.

First, I did not want to dampen their optimism, but rather encourage them to believe they can have a wonderful life and encourage them to follow their dreams. But second, I wanted to let them know there would be disappointments and setbacks and maybe an unexpected crisis. But I also wanted them to know they could get through the disappointment or crisis — so don’t quit!

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Two days later, we learned that a local 16-year-old high school boy had taken his own life. It was like a gut punch knocking the wind out of me. I and others cried. Our church had prayer for the family. We asked ourselves, what can we do?

The reasons behind death by suicide are complex and I don’t pretend to have all of the answers. But I believe that one of the biggest deterrents to suicide among youth is having connections with an older adult who believes in them. Even as an adult, I need people in my life who believe in me.

I had parents, youth sponsors, pastors and others who believed in me and encouraged me. They would ask me questions about how my life was going and how my day went. And they showed an interest in me. I remember feeling loved and valued. That built my self-esteem and sense of self-worth and helped me develop a passion and purpose for living. Sadly, not everyone has that.

So, back to the original question: If you had the opportunity to pass on some of the life lessons you’ve learned, what would you tell your younger self, or your own grandchildren and other young people to help them avoid some of the mistakes you’ve made and to enjoy some of the successes you’ve had? And, how can you tell them in such a way they’ll truly listen and respect what you have to say?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in an article dated February 25 2022, suicide was the second leading cause of death in 2020 among children and adolescents, aged 10 to 14 and young adults aged 25 to 34 years. Friends, let me encourage you to befriend people who are younger than you, especially a middle schooler, high schooler, or a young adult. Let them know you are interested in their lives and that you believe in them.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come unto me, for of such is the Kingdom of God.” Our friendship with a younger person might make the difference between life and death and be the bridge that helps them connect with God and with others who love them.

If you have had some experiences and life lessons you would like to share with younger people, I would like to hear from you. Don’t let the testimonies and wisdom God has given you be lost. Write to me at the email address below. I look forward to hearing from you. 

Dan Matney is the pastor at New Life Assembly of God in Avon. Email him at

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