Last week, I heard a famous pastor on the radio talking about his conversion. He was very sincere, and I was deeply moved. Until he made a remark suggesting “he knew Jesus better” than other Christians because he didn’t come to faith until he was in his forties.

Wait, what? Did he really suggest that the later in life we find God, the more of God we actually discover?

Maybe he thinks since he didn’t become a follower of Jesus until after all his sinning was done, he must really know how bad sin is and can really appreciate the grace of God.

That’s possible.

Or, maybe he thinks—since all lifelong Christians are subconsciously hypocrites and accidental Pharisees—he must be the only genuine seeker of God’s truth.

That’s also a possibility.

But, can you think of any other area of your life where less investment yields greater results?

Maybe, just maybe, one of the reasons we find late-converts so credible is that they speak with conviction. They know when, and why, they began following Jesus, whereas “lifers” only have a vague recollection.

Because we were six.

So here’s my crack at speaking with conviction about the legitimacy of knowing God for a long time.

I have two loving parents who are still together, who taught me what it means to pray and seek the face of God, who always prioritized God’s will over our family plans, and who believed we were meant to give our way out of our poverty.

I have strong biblical knowledge that began at home, before bed, and strong impressions of praying with Sunday School teachers who reminded me God is always listening and eager for correspondence.

I have no nightmares and have never been afraid of the dark.

I was never saved from drugs or alcohol, but I was disavowed of the notion—early on—that addictions meant inferiority and that sin was impossible to overcome.

I ask for help when I need it and don’t feel ashamed of my limitations. I pray for guidance when I’m unclear and never fudge an answer from scripture because I know there’s a watchdog out there always ready to embarrass me if I falsify my expertise.

I learned how to play sports, music, and how to work hard and make friends by growing up in church, and also learned how to deal with ego, critique, and learned to love people who were better at my hobbies than I was.

I came into my marriage without sexual misadventure and have never felt cheated of missed opportunity.

My children know Jesus, love Bible stories, make up songs about God, and my house is filled with the Spirit of his presence.

But I don’t really need to boast about these things. In fact, I have to try hard to remember them. The truth is God saved me so long ago I can barely remember what it was like to contemplate life without him. I have depended on his Spirit since I could walk.

So, does this radio preacher actually know Jesus better than the rest of us? I hope so, because the Jesus I know gets ticked off when people turn religion into a competition.