By the time you read this, I hope that you are starting to understand the difference between things you know and believe because you know and believe them, and things you know and believe because you've been raised to know and believe those things.
When I was your age, your grandfather and your uncle Tim were heroes to me, and I took their word as truth and believed what they taught me to believe. Things like right and wrong, goals and aspirations, what was honorable and worthy of pursuit; these were all based on what they taught me. Even my faith was founded in the stories and truths that they shared with me.
But over time as I grew up, and that wasn't enough anymore.
There comes a point in every man's life where he needs to know and believe things for himself, based not on someone else's authority, but on his own experiences. He will need to evaluate for himself, to test and approve, and to be come convinced of his values and beliefs.
In his book The Reason for God, Tim Keller writes,
"It is no longer sufficient to hold beliefs just because you inherited them. Only if you struggle long and hard with objections to your faith will you be able to provide grounds for your beliefs … that are plausible rather than ridiculous and offensive."
We live in a world that has faith deeply engrained in its very fiber, and in a time where faith, religion, and spirituality is slowly surfacing to the top of social awareness. The more prepared you are to give a reason for your faith, and the more thought out your answers are, the better equipped you will be to add value to those faith conversations, and to make an impact on the world.
There will come a day in your life where you'll be tested. Your values will be questioned, your beliefs examined, and your faith scrutinized. When that day comes, it will not be enough to have those values and beliefs founded upon the authority of someone else; you'll have to defend them and stand up for them on your own authority. My prayer is that on that day, you will stand strong with your head held high and your faith strengthened from the victory of knowing full well who you are, and what you believe.