Well last month it finally happened, I turned 30. I suppose it was inevitable.
I now know why 30 somethings use the saying, “I wish I was 20 again, until I hang out around 20 somethings.” That, of course, is not meant to offend any of the 20 something community that reads Manturity, but more to say that once you get to 30 there are a lot of things you wish you had known. That idea is the purpose behind this article.
When I was 20, I was just getting close to completing my first year of college. I was getting a good education, I had a beautiful girlfriend (who is now my wife) and I had the rest of my twenties in front of me. That was true, but what I didn’t know was how much work was in front of me.
My twenties, along with many of your’s, was a time of intense learning. I personally had started a new job right out of college. I had got married only a few months out of college. And to top it all off, I thought I would take my new job, new marriage and move out of the state and away from family. To this day, I still think I was crazy to do so many big changes all at once. To be honest, I was living with the Superman mentality. I thought I could handle all that life had to throw at me.
Boy was I wrong. But, as many of you know, it can be slightly difficult explaining the hardships of life to someone young and full of energy. And like myself, some of us just need to learn the hard way.
Many of you reading this can probably relate to the path I took through my twenties and can also agree with deciding to choose the hard way. But what if there was a better way to approach your twenties? As a much more mature man who is 30 now, I would advise you younger men be open to listening to the advice of older, wiser men. Men who have been where you’re headed and can see the path a little more clear than you. I actually get much more indepth on those ideas in a recent article your can read here.
So as I look back through my twenties, here are five areas where I agreed were my biggest areas of growth. I challenge you to read each one and consider them in your own life.
1) LOVE – Love is Patient
My wife and I got married about 3 months after graduating college. We had been dating for about 5 years, but had been long distant for the last three leading up to the marriage because of school. Between the long distance and that fact that my college was only for men, made for an interesting first few years of marriage.
I thought I knew what love was and how to give it to my wife. What I found out was that I knew how to say “I Love You”, but I had no idea how to live it out in our marriage. This of course led to multiple and ongoing disagreements, a frustrating intimate relationship and a love based more on false expectations than reality. I wanted my marriage to be great, but my impatience made it almost unbearable. I learned over time that love is patient and that we are both broken humans trying to make a forever relationship work day to day. Learn to love with patience in your relationships.
1 Corinthians 13:4, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.”
2) Discipline – Value of Self Learning
Years of going to school left me thinking that I was done with all that learning stuff. I had my diploma and degree in hand, what else was there to learn? This mind set carried me for about 3 years and then it all started to crumble.
I spent my first few years of marriage just thinking I could make it work. I didn’t try to learn more about her or how to make my marriage last. Knowing how well I did in college, made me think I didn’t need to go that extra mile to learn something at work. I was 20 something and Superman, right? Wrong again. I never sought help from those more experienced and older than me, because, well, I was immature.
Finally around the age of 25, it all hit me like a wall. I realized that without making the extra effort in my marriage, at my work and with other relationships; there was no way any of them would last. I took action and started going to marriage classes and conferences with my wife. I started paying more attention at work and took the initiative when not even asked. And I made sure I was a friend who was willing to help, rather than always looking for help. I became a man anxious to learn, grow and mature.
Hebrews 12:7, ” Endure hardship as discipline.”
3) Confidence – Necessity of Self Preservation
Throughout college and even earlier schooling, I would always care so much about what others thought of me. It was hard for me to function through my twenties when someone would talk down to me or if someone would yell at me. Even if I deserved it, I didn’t know how to handle it.
Again, as I embarked on my mid-twenties, I found myself having more responsibility at work. I was put in charge or more things and more people. As time went on though, I still had superiors and others at my position trying to tell me how to do things and what not to do. Up to that point, I had allowed everyone to just walk all over me, but at this stage I decided to take a stand. I chose to start standing up for myself and for the decisions I was choosing to make. And with that, started getting better at accepting the full responsibility for those decisions. It was tough at first, but it made me mature quickly.
From that point on I learned that I needed to maintain my confidence and accept responsibility for it. Again, this included in my marriage, at my work and with all my other relationships. This also included my walk with Christ. Knowing that I can talk to him about any situation, at any time has boosted my confidence greatly.
1 Timothy 4:12, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”
4) Sacrifice – Leadership is Serving
I don’t know about you, but graduating college was all about me. It was something I had worked up to all of my life and I wanted all the recognition for it. Well, you know something, I got the recognition for it, and than a couple of months went by. After those months, I got married.
I have learned that marriage is a relationship that demands sacrifice and servant leadership or it will just not work. Funny that the same requirements are needed for your relationship with Christ to work as well. Early in marriage, I thought it was all about my needs and what I wanted. This mind set almost led to our divorce about 4 years ago. Serving yourself and not others, will not get you anywhere good in life.
Becoming a true follower of Christ in my twenties taught me that leadership is all about serving. If I can step up and serve my wife, my work and others; I am leading in the best way possible. Yes, there will always be sacrifices as a leader, but never forget that the rewards are great!
Mathew 10:28, “Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve.”
5) God – I can’t do this on my own anymore
The old line, “well he grew up Christian” or “he grew up in a Christian home”, is not a get out of the Christian life free card. I can’t count how many times I have heard that saying from people and I just stand there and shake my head.
Getting out from under your parents wings is a test every man must face in his life. Whether, he grew up Christian or not, he is going to have to face the world head on and choose if he is going to keep following God or face life without Him.
I personally grew up Christian, so I used the excuse myself. I had gone to Church a ton of times, sang the worship songs and said the prayers; but never realized my heart was far from all those things. Till my mid twenties, I tried leading my marriage and everyday life according to my standards. All along knowing I wasn’t giving any of what I did to God. He was sometimes on my mind, but didn’t exist in my heart.
This lasted till I was almost 26. At this point, I was very unhappy, my relationship with everyone was distant and my marriage was ready to end. I could have chose to lose everything to this world or lose my life to Christ. I chose to give it all to Christ, because I realized I couldn’t do this life on my own anymore. Bundled up and in a world of fears and tears, I gave my life to Christ. It was by far the best decision I made in my twenties and for that matter, my whole life. If you’re doing life on your own and its falling apart, seek the heart of a servant and give Christ an invitation to your heart.
Mathew 22:37,”Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind.”
For those above who have been or are going through your twenties, share one area in which you grew in the most.