A Letter to My Son

A Letter to My Son

Recently, while on a mission trip to Cuba, I wrote a letter to my 20-year-old son. It might be helpful for those of you who are trying to parent well.

September 17, 2023

Dear Son, 

Back in the horse and buggy days, the roads were made of dirt and mud, deep ruts formed from all the times buggy wheels had driven over them. At one intersection, you could see wagon ruts going off in every direction, some north, some south, others east or west; there was a sign at the intersection that said, “Choose your rut carefully; you will be in it for a long time.” 

This season of life for you is like being at that crossroads. The decisions you make now, you will be in for a long time, perhaps the rest of your life on this earth. When I was your age, I was making similar decisions. I didn’t get all of them right. But I did get the big ones right. That is what I hope for you. 

It is vital that before you make any BIG decision, you develop a clear vision for the future in the various essential areas of your life. At this point in life, you don’t need the little details, but you do need to be getting clear on the broad strokes of life. 

You will be responsible for shaping four areas of life and being clear on vision. 

  1. Self – That is the first and most important area where you must make good decisions. These decisions are the habits that will compound to make you into your future self. 
  2. Family – Choosing a wife comes much easier once you clearly envision who you are to be. Many women will self-eliminate. Others will be a poor fit. One will stand out as far superior to the others, at least for you. 
  3. Church – Knowing your role in a particular local church is paramount. The local church is the visible expression of the Kingdom of Christ on earth. There is no way to adequately express your faith in this life apart from a local church. 
  4. World – By world, I mean mostly your government. What does it look like for the Rule of King Jesus to spread in your city, state, and nation? Get as clear about this as possible. It takes time to develop this vision, but it’s worth it. 

As you clarify those four areas, seek to discern if any future wife is “on board” with your vision. She must be willing to accept this vision and champion it as a personal conviction if the marriage is to work.

Let’s walk through each area, and let me remind you of what we have sought to pass down to you. 

  1. Self – At this season in life, Scripture would consider you a young man. We don’t have to guess what God wants you to focus on. It is the same for every young man. Paul explains this in Titus 2.

Titus 2:6–8 (ESV)

6 Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. 7 Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, 8 and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.

  • Self-Controlled – The King James Version uses the phrase “Sober minded.” I like that. It conveys the idea of making sound decisions without the sway of charged emotions. 
  • Good Works – This should mark your life. You worship a GOOD GOD. Therefore, you are progressively becoming a GOOD MAN, and GOODNESS marks your work.
  • Sound Doctrine – It has been said that every man is a theologian; some are good ones. You should seek to be a good one. Have a good grasp of the Bible as a whole. First and foremost, read it, all of it. Learn how the various parts fit together. What is the overall message? What are the essential doctrines (teachings) that flow from it? Can you convey these things in words and defend your positions? Consider writing out your understanding of various truths. Write yourself clear. 
  1. Family – The Bible presents a vividly clear picture of the Christian family. The husband is the leader, protector, and provider. He sees to it that his family’s physical, spiritual, and emotional needs are met. He focuses his efforts on his wife. The two of them together shepherd the kids. The wife is the heart of the home. She submits herself to her husband’s godly leadership and focuses on making the home a place where all who live there may flourish. The family as a whole is woven into the life of a faithful church. They strive with other families to build the church and make faithful disciples. 
  1. Church – There is no Christianity apart from the Church. I mean that practically every way God calls us to express our faith is done in and through a community of faith. This community is marked by faithful preaching, obedience to the scriptures, the ordinances of the faith (communion and baptism), progressive sanctification (good groups), and loving connections with other like-minded families.

    We have always been baptist by choice. We prefer Baptist churches with a reformed bent. However, I would say that the Nicene Creed and the Apostles Creed should be upheld as a genuine church.

    Lead your family to engage in acts of service within the church. Support the Pastors. Never be a problem to them. Work towards unity in the body. If you can’t do that, find another church.

  2. World – The Lord taught us to pray – “thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.” Ultimately, we want all government to submit itself to the Kingship of Jesus. What this looks like in some areas is clear, and in others, it is debatable. But to keep it simple, with any act of state, ask yourself, is this what King Jesus would want? If not, work against it. Be incremental; battles aren’t won overnight. But also be intentional. Don’t live on the defense. Take new ground for the King. But consistently call for the Lordship of Jesus Christ in every plane of existence. Be Kuypernian in your faith. If you don’t know what Kuypernian means, look up Abraham Kuyper and read his most famous works. 

Now, about the practical decisions. Who should you marry, and how should you go about discerning that? How can you convince her and her tribe that this is God’s perfect will? I will address those things in another letter. For now – think carefully about the above. Let me know if you have any questions. And hang out at the intersection for a while before you choose your rut.



  • Sandra Jay
    Posted at 23:25h, 28 September Reply

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful, godly message to your son. It is definitely a blessing & worth reading for all sons and grandsons. I agree with all you said; our sons need this wisdom.

  • Teresa Nichols
    Posted at 00:07h, 29 September Reply

    An amazing letter how extremely thoughtful to put your thoughts in writing to be referred to often. Prayers for Cole as he sits at the crossroads of life that he will make wise decisions pleasing to our Lord

  • Judy Sapp
    Posted at 01:23h, 29 September Reply

    If more fathers would take this kind of interest in their children, I can only imagine what kind of wonderful human beings we would be raising. Raising children is one of the hardest things that we will ever do, but is undoubtedly one of the most rewarding. I pray for Cole and his decisions and I’m sure with your guidance he will make the right ones. Thank you Pastor Zach for sharing this with us.

  • Skip Willis
    Posted at 03:15h, 29 September Reply

    Excellent! Your son is blessed, to have you to help guide him to make the big decisions in this life. I pray that he follows your wise advice. I’m sure, that he has, and will. He is also blessed, to have you watching over him, like a hawk. And most of all, he is blessed to have someone to love him, that has the knowledge, and wisdom of the Word of God, and the indwelling Holy Spirit. God bless you, your son, your family, and your ministries.

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