The 12 Most Important Things I Learned Before Turning 31

  1. The acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is the most important decision I’ve ever made.

I did not grow up in church but there was no shortage of curiosity or conviction. I would consider myself to have been a Christian by association until I gave my life to Christ at the age of 22. I then began to experience the true transformative power of an intimate relationship with God. To me, being a Christian is not following a particular rule book that explains how to not go to hell, but experiencing God’s grace, mercy and having a model and standard for living that builds noble character and spreads love. Jesus demonstrates for us how to meet people where they are and then lead them to where they need to be. I pray that my faith leads me to live a life that bears much fruit and brings glory to God as opposed to selfishly pursuing worldly happiness that only benefits me.

  1. He who finds a wife finds a good thing.

One month before I turned 30 my wife and I celebrated our one year anniversary. I can create an entire list of ways my wife has added value to my life but there are three ways that I’ve experienced exponential growth since our union.

  1. She gives me a space to be vulnerable. The measure of a man is often tied to his strength or ability to control his emotions. My wife knows my greatest weaknesses and fears and she doesn’t hold them against me. She is right by my side, supporting me and pouring into me in ways that I’ve never experienced before.
  2. My wife’s presence has increased my courage. I feel like I can conquer anything and even if I fall short, she patches up my scars and tells me to get back out there and try again.
  3. My wife has enhanced my leadership abilities. She has taught me that leadership is not about being in control but serving and following. Leadership looks like serving my wife in ways that allow her to become all that God has called her to be, following God’s design for our marriage and continuing to grow as Christians.

    3. Get comfortable being uncomfortable.

Staying in your comfort zone is a sure-fire way to not meet your potential. Growth happens when you push the boundaries of your learning edge and embrace the discomfort of doing something more different than you may be used to. The more you do this, the more natural it will become. I am far from the young man I was at 18 when I became intentional about my growth journey. I now know that the only thing that can hold me back from reaching my God-given potential is me! Life isn’t about finding comfort, it’s about character development.

  1. It is important to serve others.

There are over 7 billion people living on Earth right now but there is not one person this world revolves around. A “Me First” mentality can lead you to become entitled and even ego-centric. We must work to become more service oriented. Pay forward the blessings that have been bestowed upon you. If the only one that benefits from what you do is you, then you miss the potential multiplier effect of you helping others that could then lead them to do the same.  We can all benefit from a healthy dose of selflessness. There are many unmet needs in the world and we can meet some of our own by selflessly serving to meet the needs of others, primarily faith, hope and love!

  1. Self-awareness and reflection are essential.

In our society, we spend all of our early years in school. Some may also go on to college and pursue advanced degrees. We invest countless hours studying and digesting information about history, current events, theories, etc. The critical question then becomes how much do we know about ourselves? What are your values? What are your talents? What is your purpose? Oftentimes, whether directly or indirectly, society dictates what those things should be. I believe, the more knowledge you have of yourself the more enabled you will be to take a more active role in how your life unfolds. Don’t let the rat race keep you so engaged that you never take time to reflect and get to know the person you spend the most time with, you!

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

There is something about the inquisitive nature of a small child that spouts off question after question to a parent. While it may become irritating to the parent, this seemingly insatiable desire for understanding is something to be marveled. Asking questions provide us with a window of opportunity to gain additional insight, clarity and even new perspectives. However, at some point the questions seem to stop. Don’t let insecurities, fear or even ego prevent you from asking questions. Whether you are asking your question to a teacher, boss, mentor or stranger, never stop.

  1. Be the CEO of your dreams.

In 2010, I first heard the phrase, “Be the C.E.O of your dreams (Creator of Excellent Opportunities),” coined by Dr. Antoine Moss. This statement is one that still surfaces consistently in my thinking. While we may not always be able to control the things that happen around us, I do believe we can a have strong influence in how we engage with our environments. Sometimes you have to create opportunities for yourself, as they may not fall in your lap. Also, you may at times have to blaze a trail for others. To me, being the C.E.O. of your dreams means being intentional about the direction you are heading in, using your struggles as growth opportunities and carving out space for your dreams in the midst of doubt and fear.

  1. Don’t be afraid to be great but don’t be too good to grow.

You are uniquely equipped and positioned in this world to make a difference. Being great doesn’t mean being better than others at anything in particular, but rather striving to be the best version of yourself. That dedication may lead to elevation, which in turn, brings about new levels of commitment, accountability and hard work. Taking the path of least resistance or blending in with the crowd may give you the illusion that you’ve escaped the scrutiny or trials that come with this pursuit of greatness but each day you look in the mirror you have to face the person you are cheating. You don’t have to be perfect but progress beats stagnation any day. It’s not about where you start; it’s about the direction you head in. Greatness is the goal but you never want to get to the point where you feel as if you’ve arrived or that you can’t grow anymore.

  1. Resilience and perseverance are necessities in life.

You are going to get knocked down and you are going to fall short. If you have not experienced these sorts of adversities, as long as you keep living, I am certain they will show up on your door step when you least want to see them. The ability to persevere and be resilient only increase as you navigate through the trials and tribulations of life. These things may have the potential to tear you down but they can also strengthen you. You will develop a stronger character and your testimony can then be shared to encourage others who may be dealing with similar challenges.

  1. It’s not about your ability, it’s about your availability.

In our pursuit of purposeful work sometimes we get hung up on the perceived limitations of our capabilities. Perhaps in the business world, knowledge, skills and abilities may be differentiating factors, but in the world of faith, God just needs you to be available and have the faith of a mustard seed. He will use you as he sees fit. Throughout scripture he uses some very unlikely characters to do a lot of heavy lifting. Moses, Noah, David, Abraham and Paul are just a few. From his perspective, you are already equipped and the more we realize that apart from him we can’t do anything, the greater the Holy Spirit can move in our lives. There is nothing we can do to impress God. But we can make ourselves available to allow him to work on us and through us.

  1. Forgiveness grants permission to heal.

Forgiveness in and of itself does not make you forget the pain someone else may have caused you. However, it frees you of the heavy burden that accompanies holding a grudge or thoughts of revenge. Many of us find it hard to forgive people who have wronged us and sometimes it’s hard to forgive ourselves for mistakes that we’ve made. When forgiveness doesn’t happen, the resulting wounds remain unhealed. These wounds will not heal until properly addressed. God wants to do work through us. He wants to strengthen us as vessels. He wants to heal us and restore us from our brokenness. Perhaps you have heard the quote, “Hurt people, hurt people.” Don’t let your pain, resentment and anger negatively impact those around you. Don’t let the pain others may have caused you continue to eat at you from the inside out. Forgive and give yourself permission to heal.

  1. A strong community is beneficial.

One thing you will never hear me say is that I am Self-Made. I am who I am because of the people who have loved me and supported me these brief 31 years I’ve been alive. From my mother, wife, family, friends, mentors, etc., my village prepared me and propelled me to be the man I am today.

At times, we may feel alone or that the world is operating against us but when you are firmly planted in a strong community I believe attributes like perseverance and resilience are heightened. As we benefit from community I believe we must also contribute to the lives of others as a part of their community. Your method of paying it forward doesn’t have to be giving back equally what was given to you but rather supporting others in the ways you feel compelled or the way your gifts enable you to.

One Response to “The 12 Most Important Things I Learned Before Turning 31

  • Justin
    2 years ago

    Great post! 30 is the best, and honestly we’ve had more fun in our lives after 30 than before 🙂

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