Being a person in your twenties is a crazy thing. It’s a transition period for most people. A person typically enters their twenties being single, dependent on their parents, and at home. Yet by the time they leave their twenties they typically have families of their own, finished with school, working a full-time job, and maturing into a responsible adult. In these ten years most of a person’s biggest choices are made, choices that will define the rest of their lives. The range of emotions and experiences during this brief ten-year span can be overwhelming and confusing. Everything gets looked at, critiqued, adjusted, cemented or thrown out.
With that said, I wanted to offer a few helpful tips to those in their early twenties. Soon, I will be exiting this decade of my life and I wanted to share some of the things that have kept me sane, secure, and steady in God.
Plug yourself into a church and serve
When it comes to church attendance and service, there are three types of young people. There are those who don’t go to church or serve. They decide to put it off until they are in their thirties and have a family of their own. In truth, apart from an intervention from God, when these people are in their thirties, they will still have reasons and excuses why they can’t be part of a local church.
The second type of people are those who join and serve many local churches. They go to one church for the worship, one church for the message, one church for the college group, one church for the friends and events, and another church for the special outreaches and mission work they do. These are all things to be excited for and be a part of. The problem arises when we never fully commit to one local church. The local church is a family. God designed this local family to refine you, like iron sharpening iron. When iron sharpens iron, there is friction. God’s maturing process for us is to be in a place where where there is a friction that sharpens us; a friction can cause some frustration or stress now and again. This is not done by picking and choosing things you like from a multitude of different churches. It’s done by finding a gospel preaching church and becoming a part of it and becoming a part of all the things that will irritate and frustrate you about it.
I hear many people use the excuse “well, I’m not growing there in this area of my life”, like the church is supposed to be perfect and complete in every area without their help. My advice to those people is to get in that area and help build it up where it’s supposed to be.
Don’t like the worship? Don’t feel it’s passionate enough?
Then join the church and help the worship team out by joining the team. Pray for them and the church. Worship God passionately each service in the midst of the congregation.
Don’t like the preaching/teaching? Don’t care much for the presentation? Don’t think it’s relevant enough?
Then join the church and help teach a Sunday School class or a kids/youth service.
Don’t think the church is committed to outreach and missions enough?
Then join the church and help organizing ways to reach out to the community. Talk to the pastors about helping them plan a short-term missions trip.
Legacy isn’t left by traveling from church to church, week to week. Legacy and change happens when you plant yourself in one place for a long extended period of time. I have been a part of my church for 14 years. I am being matured in the faith because I am constantly being sharpened by people and ministries that are not perfect. We are being perfected together for the glory of God.
Embrace older believers
Christianity has been around for a long time. The gospel is perfect but over time the church has added some things and traditions to it that may be unneeded or may not be relevant to the current generation. The problem arises where we start thinking that older people have ruined Christianity and stripped it of its greatness by all the traditions they hold. While there may be legitimate things that need to be changed or updated, most of these thoughts come out of arrogance and over-zealousness. The New Testament continually tells older men/women to teach and train the younger men/women. The Bible doesn’t say for younger people to state the ways in which the older people are ruining the church.
In hindsight, here are a couple reasons I thought older people were ruining the church:
- I didn’t see the bigger picture
Many times we are focused on a issue that is a stumbling block to 3-4 people while the issue is helping hundreds. Sometimes we get into a pattern of thinking that 16-30 is the only age bracket in the church. In typical churches, we only make up 20% of the congregation. Take a step back and think about other people and other age brackets.
- I wasn’t mature enough yet
Many of the things that I had a problem with in the past were simply because I wasn’t mature enough to understand or want them. I’ll use hymns as an example. When I was a teenager through till my early twenties, I didn’t care much for hymns. I found them wordy, passionless, and lacking musical flair. Now I desire them more than any new cutting edge song. Sure, I have joined the worship team and helped them have more musical flair (see the above main point about joining the church), but the words and substance of the songs have remain unchanged. What has changed is my maturity. Now I understand the songs and have learned to apply passion from my heart when singing them.
Make knowing God your one dream
Currently, there is much talk in the church about living your dreams and reaching your goals. I find this unscriptural since we are called to lay all those things down in order to pick up our cross and follow Jesus (see Luke 9:23). But not only is it unbiblical but it is also impractical. The Lord ordains where we live, what job we work, and the rest of our future.
Here’s the truth: God calls 98% of people to love him passionately and serve Him extravagantly in the midst of their mundane life.
You can go to college and get a MBA. You can plan to start a new business/ministry that will change the world all while donating profits to dig wells in Africa. Just realize that the Lord’s plans for you most likely will include you working as a shift supervisor at Target (or somewhere like that) for several years.
Because God’s plans for your life aren’t about you having the most awesome job so that you feel fulfilled in your life. His plans are for you to be fulfilled in him alone. He will go to great lengths to make this happen, whether by long seasons of singleness, boring jobs, serving a smaller church instead of helping a exciting mega-church that’s a few more miles away, etc. To quote C.S. Lewis from The Weight of Glory, “we are far too easily pleased.” God wants to be the absolute and ultimate center to our lives. He wants to teach you how to have passion and love for Him that will last. That mostly happens in the boring, dry, dull, and mundane parts and times in our lives.
So go to college, learn, grow, build relationships, travel, visit, but be content with whatever lot the Lord gives you. Make your only dream and goal to know Him. Don’t let your work factor into your satisfaction. Let only Jesus into that place. That place of satisfaction was made by Him and for Him. Anything else that tries to occupy that place in your heart and life will become an idol and will ultimately distract you from knowing Him in His fullness.