Mark Rutland, former president of Oral Roberts University, recently wrote that at age 21 he was in an Amish kitchen in Bird-in-Hand, PA. This is about sixteen miles from our house. He said he saw a sign that he’ll never forget: “Too soon old, too late smart.” “When I saw it,” he said, “I thought it was memorable but hardly meaningful. I was 21. Now the words are meaningful, but I can barely remember the farmhouse. I am 64.”

“What,” he asked himself, “if anything, do I now know that I wish I had known at 21?” He came up with 10 things.

I seldom blog other people’s material, but this is too good to not pass on. Here are Mark’s ten things he wished he had known at age 21.

1. Inner healing is greater than outward success.
The more I see of inner healing and the more I face up to my own inner wounds, the more I wish I had let Messiah touch my deepest hurts earlier in life. If I were 21 again I would bore down into the inner world of me and find Christ’s healing touch in the darkness under the floorboards.

2. Mercy is greater than justice.
I have found that many in the church want the wayward to “get what’s coming to them.” Were I 21 again, I would learn and practice mercy, knowing that later I would need it.

3. Kindness is better than being right.
Just before my friend Jamie Buckingham died, I asked him for a word of wisdom. He said, “It is better to be kind than to be right.”

4. Serving is better than being served.
I wish I had known at 21 how hollow is all that outward stuff. I wish I had known that caring, not being cared for, is what Christ had in mind.

5. Brokenness is the doorway to wholeness.
I feared brokenness. I ran from it, and when it got too close fought it off with all my might. Now I know that there is very little real wholeness that does not emerge from real brokenness.

6. Truth is liberating and devastating.
Jesus said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” My friend Jamie tacked on, “But first it will make you miserable.” How true. I wish I had known that the temporary misery of the truth was worth going through to find the freedom that it brings.

7.Learning is greater than education.
I am not saying that higher education is unimportant. If I were 21 again, I would still go to college. But this time I would go to learn, not just to graduate. I would unleash my curiosity, embrace the process, worry less about my grades and enjoy learning.

8. Giving is sweeter than gaining.
I wish that at 21 I had known the sheer joy of giving. I know God will bless us when we give, and sometimes we have made this merely a method to gain. I wish I had realized the joy of generosity. I would have given more and delighted more in the good that giving does and less in the returns it provides.

9.Forgiveness doesn’t fix everything.
There are things, relationships and hearts that once broken cannot be fully “fixed” by forgiveness. The wound, the uncaring and insensitive word—they may be forgiven, but the damage from them may never quite be right again. When I was 21 I just wanted to be forgiven. I wish I had known to do less damage.

10. Prayer is more powerful than persuasion.
I wish I had known younger that in conflict and crisis talking to God works better than talking to people. I have seen God turn hearts around, change organizations and melt opposition by prayer alone—when no persuasive speech could have made a difference. If I were 21 again, I would spend more time talking with God and less (far less) persuading others to do what I want.

(Excerpts taken from