Class 48: “Take Full Responsibility” / “Talk and Listen to Every Older Man Past Fifty That You Possibly Can” (Part 3)

Welcome to Class 48 of “The Ramp” to the Highway of Success course for young men. I am Daniel Whyte III, chairman of the National Association to Save Young Black Men in partnership with the Martin Luther King Senior Institute for Young Men & Young Women. The Institute aims to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Sr., commonly referred to as “Daddy King”, whom God used to raise the great leader, Martin Luther King Jr. Our purpose is to guide young men and young women, and help them get on the path to becoming kings and queens for the glory of God.

I am your instructor for this course and the author of the ESSENCE national bestselling book “Letters to Young Black Men”. We are using that book as the text and its study guide to guide you through the course. The study guide was developed with the help of Jamie McCallum (M.Div, Truett Theological Seminary) and Charles Garrett (M.Div, Southwestern Theological Seminary). This course is for all young men, but especially for young black men and young men of color who oftentimes have a “difficult journey” in this great country called America. I call this class “the Ramp” to the Highway of Success because my goal is to get you on “the Ramp”. As a man, you ought to be able to make it from there. Out of respect for you as a young man, my job is to get you on the ramp and point you in the right direction, not to tell you all the details once you get onto the highway of success. With God, you can do great things.

— Let’s Pray —

Today, we are continuing our study in which we are combining two letters, “Take Full Responsibility” and “Talk and Listen to Every Older Man Past Fifty That You Possibly Can.”

As we begin this lesson, consider these words from Les Brown. He said, “Align yourself with powerful people. Align yourself with people that you can learn from, people who want more out of life, people who are stretching and searching and seeking some higher ground in life.”

Let’s begin by reading the portion from Letters to Young Black Men which our lesson is based on:

Dear Y.B.M.:

I realize that you may feel more comfortable with those who are of the same age as you. However, may I suggest to you that it is very important that you spend some quality time talking to and listening to every older black man past fifty that you possibly can? These men will not claim perfection, nor will they claim to have it all together. Many of them will not have the educational background that you may have. But it behooves you to be quiet and listen to them.

Dear friend, because of the light that you have received in this age of knowledge and information, you may know a little about the super highways of life; but you don’t know much, if anything, about the smaller back-roads and shortcuts of life. Also, even though you may know a little about the main highways of life, you do not know what lies ahead on those highways. These older gentlemen do, because they have passed this way before. There is a lot that you think you know that you don’t know. As you grow older you will become increasingly aware of how ignorant you really are. These dear older brothers, who have passed this way before, have been down both the super highways and the small back-roads and shortcuts. And they can really help you make a grand success of this life, if you would only listen to them. For as the Bible says in Proverbs 1:7, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

Proverbs 11:14 says, “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.”

Now, please pull out your printed study guide or your digital study guide as we begin this lesson.

Now that we have a good idea of the need for living a responsible life, let us look back at the idea of seeing this characteristic exemplified by older black men. Not only can these men teach you to live responsibly, but they can also instruct you in numerous areas of your life.

As we look at a biblical example of such mentorship, you may question why we are focusing on Jesus, who clearly is not an old man in the Bible. In reality, you are instructed to learn from older people, because they have experienced more in life and thus are able to bestow this wisdom upon you. Those men that seem the most wise in your eyes are probably also the most Christ-like. Thus, Jesus is the perfect example of a mentor, for He is all-knowing and His “foolishness” is wiser than man’s deepest wisdom. Therefore, please do not let the age of Christ distract you from His and the disciples’ examples on mentorship.

1. Read Luke 2:46 and note what Jesus was doing in his teenage years: “And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.”

Jesus is in the temple listening to the teachers and asking questions. As a young man Jesus took advantage of His opportunity to learn from the spiritual leaders and to ask questions. He was not intimidated because of His age or social standing. Likewise, as a young man, you are at the perfect age for learning and asking questions. As we see what such a focused childhood and adolescence produced in Jesus’ life, we will make comparisons to how this affects your own life today. After this episode Jesus continued to grow and become strong, increasing in wisdom.

2. Read Matthew 4:18-22 and note what such responsibility and discipline prepared him to do: “And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him. And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.“

He was equipped to call others to follow him, to teach in spiritual settings, and to heal the sick in the name of God. In order for Jesus to become a teacher He first had to be a student. In order for Him to be a leader He first had to be a follower. After years of such submission and training, the Son of God was finally ready to begin His transforming ministry.

Now, let’s shift our attention to the disciples. First, they simply came to Jesus. Then, in the Gospels, we find that Jesus is teaching while the disciples are listening. In Matthew 10, Jesus sends the disciples out to rescue lost sheep and to preach about the kingdom of Heaven. They are also to perform miracles and healings.

I hope you caught the pattern in the life of Jesus and his disciples. As a boy, Jesus was intentional about learning from old, wise teachers. He then became equipped to lead others whom He instructed in the ways of life. After intentionally spending days, weeks, and months at Jesus’ side, the disciples had been instructed in the way of truth, and were thus able to go out and find their own followers.

Just as the boy Jesus learned from older men, and the disciples learned from Jesus, God wants you to learn from those who are older, wiser, and who have more experience than you do.

Let’s Pray.


In closing, Tony Dungy, the first black coach to win the Super Bowl and the host of NBC’s Sunday Night Football said, “You are never going to get anywhere in sports or in life until you become convinced of the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. You may become a professional athlete or have fame and nice cars and nice houses and a lot of money, but what you’ll find is that all of that stuff goes away pretty quickly. You have to understand that Christ died for our sins, and that He died not just to be our Savior but so that He could be the center of our lives.”

Now, like many of you, I grew up in a very religious and church-going family, and during that time, I often heard the phrase “Being Saved.” Now, much of what the church people I grew up around said “being saved” was back then especially, in my community, is wrong according to the Bible. I wrote an article about it titled “On ‘Being Saved’ in Black America” which is available for you to read free of charge on our website, Right now, I want to share with you very briefly what the Bible says “being saved” really is.

First, understand that you need to be saved because you are a sinner. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, understand that a horrible punishment — eternal Hell — awaits those who are not saved. In Matthew 25:41, Jesus Christ said that God will say to those who are not saved, “depart from me ye cursed into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

Third, realize that God loves you very much and wants to save you from Hell. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

If you want to be saved from Hell and be guaranteed a home in Heaven, simply believe in Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose from the dead for your sins, and then call upon Him in prayer and ask Him to save your soul. And believe me, He will.

Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” That is the most important decision you will ever make.

If the Lord tarries His coming and we live, I’ll see you for our next class.