“In your 30s you’ll be tested on the commitments you made in your 20s.” – Gene Edwards, The Inward Journey
This quote stuck in my head ever since I read it last spring. Why? Probably because a) I’m in my 30s b) I was still grieving over the loss of my mom and c) I work with primarily 20-year-olds. In reality my 30s have been a LOT harder than I thought they would be and this quote helped me make sense of it because I made a lot of commitments in my 20s that I was being tested on.
I was 22 when I made a commitment to my wife to love her through good times and bad, and since then we have buried grandparents and parents together.
I was in my twenties when I pursued a career that I loved (vocational ministry), and in my thirties I’ve been tested to see if I really want to stay in it through the long haul (the answer is yes).
So, I’ve been asked what I would say to my 20-year-old self, which is an exercise in futility, because even if I could hop in a DeLorean and travel the glorious decade known as the ’00s, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have listened. I know that because older and wiser people tried to warn me that finishing well is a lot harder than I imagined, and I didn’t listen then. But if I COULD go back, this is what I would say. (Actually these are probably a list of things I tell the mostly 20-somethings I work with every day.)
- Do yourself a favor and save your Hawaiian shirts — they’ll come back in style one day, I promise.
- Cherish your parents. In your twenties, you’re busy starting life and it’s easy to lose touch with the ones who brought you into this world. Now that I’ve lost a parent, I realize how precious that time is.
- It’s ok if you don’t have your future mapped out. God hasn’t forgotten you. Most 20-somethings want to see their life’s calling in HD. But God isn’t in the business of providing clarity, He’s looking to build character. Also, you never know what experience you’re gaining now that will come back to play in the future.
- Faithfulness beats flash every time. In God’s economy, many people start strong but few finish strong. So when everyone is jumping out of the gates with flashy job titles and fast-track career paths, remember that God is calling you to be faithful to what He’s set in front of you. Put your nose to the grindstone and let God handle your advancement.
- Start saving something (anything) for retirement. You’d be surprised what $25 a paycheck in your 20s will look like in your bank account in your 60s.
- Your attitude is a choice. Everyone has reasons to be bitter, resentful and frustrated. But you CAN choose to look for God’s grace in everything. When you do, joy is possible.
- Finally, Jesus is worth it. I’ve had plenty of opportunities to hit the ejection seat of my faith. But when I actually stop and think about what Christ has done I realize that the prize of knowing Him is greater than any suffering and sorrow. The One who sacrificed it all for me is worth the sacrifice of dying to myself daily for His sake and His kingdom.
These are the things I would remind my 20-year-old self. One final note, if you’re of the mindset that the current generation of 20-year-olds have a lot learn about life, you’re probably right, but so did mine, and I bet yours as well. On the bright side, the young men and women I interact with on a daily basis inspire me in so many ways. They are hard-working, creative, passionate and are willing to sacrifice for something greater. If you don’t believe me, just spend time with them. Get to know them and hear their stories. I bet you’d come to the same conclusion I have.
Mentoring at Christ Chapel
No matter your age, there’s someone younger who wants to learn from your life experiences and faith. Or, maybe you’re looking for someone to walk alongside you as a mentor! Both are possible through Christ Chapel’s mentoring programs.
If you’re a woman, our Women’s Ministry would love to help you find a mentor/mentee through their mentoring program called Side By Side. Click here to start the process.
If you’re a guy, our Men’s Ministry would love to help you get started with The Commission, their mentoring and discipleship program. Click here to start.