18 Things I learned in my 30s (Number 7 will blow your mind!)

Hello 40!

WE LIVE IN A WORLD that paradoxically scorns the offer of eternal life while simultaneously pursuing eternal youth. It does this via Botox, hours at the gym, bolt-on boob jobs, Viagra, magical tea blends, and a host of pricey cosmetics of questionable functionality. But for the Christian, we need not have the same anxieties of the world around us. We are called to age like whisky, not milk. Our souls should not grow sour from sinning. For us, getting older should only mean getting classier and godlier.

These thoughts are ignited because I’m currently relishing my 40-year mile-marker. I'm now at the point where the grass has grown generously over the grave of my youth and I can't say that I'm crying about it. I feel good. 

20 years growing up in the USA and 20 years of adult(ish) life in Europemost of which has been in the UK. I have found life to be less like a cheery Facebook meme and more like a Tarantino film: unpredictable, dark, and gloriously gut wrenching. What wisdom have I gleaned from this intense decade? Probably far less than I should have.

It may be of some (or of little) interest to you, but here are a few of the lessons I’ve learned and found helpful over the last decade.

1. Patience and listening. Having four children and a church to lead has forced the calming fluid of patience to flow through my veins more than before. ‘Be slow to speak and quick to listen' is essential advice for any growing leader in the home and the church.

2. Ditch everything ‘low-fat’. Eat fatty meat, full fat milk, butter and cheese. At 30, my health was wasting away as I did everything my NHS doctor told me to do: skimmed milk, no red meat, no egg yolks, etc. When I ditched that advice for a low-carb, high-natural fat, nutritionally rich diet my health skyrocketed, my brain fog lifted, I lost weight. I feel much better at 40 than I did at 30. I also had my energy levels get more steady when I ditched sugara drug to which I had been addicted.

3. Keep reading. I read in my 20s, but it became harder in my 30s with four kids (yes, spend quality time with your kids - you’ll be glad you did when they’re older). I fought to stay a continual learner, though I know I could’ve done better. Don't think that just because you emerged from a mostly incest-free gene pool that you won't need to work to stay sharp. Keep your grey matter exercised.
   I don’t regret the time I’ve spent reading and studying. I do regret too much time on social media. The older you get, the more your brain needs quality books to read. Tozer, Ravenhill, GK Chesterton, Lewis, Tolkien, Charles Williams, EM Bounds, Andrew Murray, Tim Keller, William Gurnall, Michael L Brown, Augustine (especially ‘Confessions’), Pascal, Luther, David Brainard, Lewis Allen, etc―these guys will help keep you from becoming a dumbassador from the Republic of Stupid.

4. Keep friendships. Many friendships from your early adult life tend to fade away during your 30s. That’s normal, don’t get too anxious over losing many of them. But try to keep at least a couple. Few things are sadder than meeting older people who have lost all the friends they once had in early life. 
    Some older people are lonely and friendlessa condition that's a real rat's nest of misery. Avoid it by maintaining key relationships over the decades. I’ve had to work hard to keep friendship across the years and miles (especially with a job and four kids!) but it’s been worth it. Time with these long lasting friends gives me the sensation of being both away on holiday and relaxing at home at the same time.

5. Intermittent fasting. After discovering what to eat, knowing when to eat greatly increased my energy levels. Look it up on YouTube and give it a try.

6. Men and women can be good friends. I didn’t know this when I was 30. But over the course of this decade some of those who have been closest to me and spoken into my life the most have been female. I’m very grateful for the mothers, sisters, and daughters in the faith that God has brought into my life. They are different than my friendships with other men, but are just as valuable to me.

7. Never be a fool for social media click bait. Second rate bloggers use it all the time. It’ll waste your life away.

8. Pray. I’ve regretted a lot of things. Time in prayer has never been one of them. As I said above, developing your mind is important, but it is not everything. There's far more in this Universe than mere philosophy can dream of. Some of those things that can't be gotten from a book must be grabbed by the spirit in prayer.
    So don’t be bum. Set your alarm, get up, and do it. Though we may grow grey headed with age, prayer will keep us from growing grey hearted.  

9. Don’t make any one relationship an idol – including your best friend and your marriage. We tend to have unrealistically high expectations of just what our spouses and our BFFs can do for us. Make sure your ultimate joy is in God, not them. All other relationships will have their good days and bad days (good years and bad years sometimes). Don’t make any of them the foundation of your identity. Keep that private place with Jesus.

10. Learn to say ‘no’ to influential and powerful people in your life. Do it respectfully. Don’t yell. But be able to articulate clear boundaries that you can’t be manipulated out of.

11. Cowardice isn’t a virtue. Don't be a coward and call it being nice. A leader isn't merely one who sees a need for change. A leader is one who sees the need and then makes it happen. Sadly, I sometimes meet pastors who seem to have been queuing elsewhere when they were distributing testicles (and that's not a reference to lady vicars). 
   I do regret certain things I’ve said over the years. I regret far more the times I kept quiet. In line with what I said above, don’t be quick to speak in anger. But when we’re sure that Wisdom is on our side, we must have courage to speak Wisdom’s wordsregardless of who we might anger by doing so.

12. Therapy. Good counselling can really help you grow as a person.

13. Make your bed. Fix up that purgatorial waste you call your bedroom. Do it every morning.

14. Don’t lose sleep over your critics. If you’re going to make a difference, you must learn to live with storms criticism. You'll get called 'Hitler' by strangers online who have all the morality of a one who takes congress with a badger (Yes Mam, I said it. A badger.)
    Just open a folder and put all your hate mail in it. It’s fun going through as time goes on. Just don’t go all victim status and complain online about how badly you're being trolled for sympathy points. Pathetic! Such people are more full of themselves than Russian dolls.
    Be a man and wear it as a badge of honour. 
    You have a limited amount of emotional energy. Don't spend it all trying to appear normal so you won't get shot at.

15. The conviction that Freedom of speech and expression is the second most important social issue for Christians to get behind (after the right to life for the unborn) as only grown over the years. 

16. Keep praying and working for the advancement of God's Kingdom. Don't sink into a middle aged, middle class lullaby of spiritual impotence. The hordes of hell ride over our land, and through many of our churches, deceiving and damning with total impunity from a sleepy and distracted church. Pray for reformers and revivalists to be raised up and seek to bring it about. 

17. Keep looking forward. Don't waste your life sobbing under a blanket of nostalgia concerning a life that never really existed except in your head. Get out of those shadows where you trust your heart to twisted tales and crooked promptings. We're headed to a world that's empty of heartache and full of laughter. I found out how evil self-pity can be. Fight it! Turn off the emo music. We are about to step into a song that no human language is beautiful enough to sing.

18. Jesus is faithful and He is there. Always. 

Comments

  1. Thankyou dear brother! This is very helpful. Keep writing! Greetings from México! And congratulation for the 40!

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  2. Thank you for share your thoughts! Very well weighted in your bullet points. May God bless you in your 40s, and so on, as well your family. Happy birthday! Greetings from a Brazilian brother.

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