Class 56: “Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me When I Was Twelve” (Part 1)

Welcome to Class 56 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 titled, “Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me When I Was Twelve”.

As we begin this lesson, consider these words from Booker T. Washington. He said, “I have learnt that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.”

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

Dear Y.B.M.:

Today, I would like to share with you some things that I wish someone had forcibly told me when I was twelve years old. Sadly, some of the things that I am going to mention in this letter, I learned at H.K.C. — Hard Knocks College. And that is not the college to go to. Indeed, it is the college from hell. I hope that you will allow me to now be that sign post of wisdom I wish I had when I was your age. If you take heed of what I am going to say here, it will save you many heartaches and troubles.

First of all, I wish someone had seriously taken the Bible and plainly showed me what true Salvation really meant when I was younger, as I showed you in Letter Two. True Salvation in my earlier life would have made a big difference in my life as it will yours. Accept the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour as soon as you can.

Second, I wish someone had told me about the importance of reading, studying and applying the Bible to my life. Read, study and apply the Bible to your life, and be the success that God wants you to be.

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

This lesson is going to be more of a review than a Bible study. In prior lessons we have already dealt in detail with the majority of the issues mentioned. Thus, be prepared to look back on past letters in order to complete this lesson. As you near completion, it is very beneficial to look back and refresh your memory on some of the topics we have discussed. It would be a shame to work so diligently merely to remain unchanged, weeks later. So, rather than seeing this lesson as busy work or with a “been there, done that” attitude, let us approach it as a way to test our progress thus far.

As the title conveys, this lesson mentions ten truths that could positively impact the life of every young black man. If you will accept this wisdom as a guideline for your life, it is certain that you can avoid much hurt and disappointment. Merely working through these lessons and going on with life as you are used to is a waste of time. If that is your intention you may as well choose a more worthwhile way to spend these next few minutes. However, if you are eager to learn from one who has lived longer than you and has learned many of these lessons the hard way, then you are already on the road to success. With that said, let us begin to unravel these ten things.

“First of all, I wish someone had seriously taken the Bible and plainly showed me what true Salvation really meant when I was younger.” Can you remember what Salvation really means?

1. The first step in knowing God personally is to understand that you are a sinner.

2. What is the punishment for our sin? Death

3. In order to remedy this depressing situation God wants us to understand that He loves us more than we love ourselves.

4. Who must you go through in order to really know God? Jesus Christ

5. In summation, if you want to know God, the source of all love, joy, peace, real happiness, and true success, believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose again for you. Ask Him to come into your heart and save you. And He will.

If the concept of Salvation is still unclear, please diligently review the Scriptures we worked through in lesson 2. Also, do not hesitate to ask your pastor for further explanation. If you are not sure of your own Salvation and do not feel qualified enough to explain the plan of Salvation with a lost brother you must take care of this. It is truly the most important thing you will ever do.

“Second, I wish someone had told me about the importance of reading, studying, and applying the Bible to my life.”

1. What are the three steps to true Bible study mentioned in lesson 3?

1. Pray then read
2. Read and retain
3. Read and obey

Now, reflect on your Bible study habits over the last few weeks. Have you attempted to practice these steps? Has your hunger for God’s Word increased?

If so, is it not exciting to finally experience the life-giving power of this Holy Book? If not, you may want to ask yourself why you are putting so much time into this study. As James 1:22 says, “Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only.” I encourage you to determine to spend quality time in the study of God’s Word. Find a place you can be alone and spend some time in prayer preparing your heart for the Lord’s presence, and then read from the Bible as though you are expecting to be challenged and changed. Too often we read just so we can mark it off our to-do list or to fulfill someone else’s expectations. Try to free yourself from such obligations, and begin to see the reading of God’s Word as a precious gift which allows mere human beings to actually interact with the Creator of this universe. Then, before completing your study time, pray for God to help you be a “doer of the Word.” Leave that time intentionally looking for opportunities to act upon what you have learned. If you adopt this practice, your intimacy with Jesus Christ will be taken to a level you never imagined possible.

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.