Photo Courtesy of 96dpi.
This week I turn the page into a new chapter of my life. I’m stepping into a new decade. This week I will celebrate turning thirty years old. Some of my friends who are older than I have already expressed to me that thirty is not that old. (Need I remind you that was said to me people who are older than thirty?) And while I’m not throwing a pity party and wondering where all of the years have gone, I am doing some reflecting upon the first three decades of my life. And I’ve learned a few things from the first thirty years that hopefully will make my next thirty years much more fulfilling.
1. Do the hard things first.
Before I begin each day, I new create a to-do list for what I want to accomplish. By the way, I’m much more effective at completing each task if I write my to-do list down. When I was in my early twenties and still in college, my natural reaction to a to-do list would have been, “Do whatever is easiest first.” Perhaps I was trying to gain a few miniature victories first or maybe I was just lazy. But today I’ve discovered a much more effective approach – do whatever is most difficult first! If I naturally want to put it off, then tackle it before anything else. If I’m afraid of it or if it requires the most time out of my day, get it done so it’s no longer looming over my head and tempting me to procrastinate.
2. Sleeping in is for college students. (And so is staying up!)
When I was in college, life was lived after dark. So it seemed that the best sleep occurred somewhere between ten o’clock and noon. But having kids that naturally wake up with the sun each morning has taught me that if I want a solid night’s sleep, staying up late to watch Jimmy Fallon is a terrible idea. (Thank you Hulu for letting me watch Jimmy Fallon at lunch time!) My kids have literally robbed me of sleeping in. So I’ve adapted and I actually enjoy waking up early because it’s before the kids wake up that I can think and enjoy quiet fellowship with God without any distractions.
3. Anything worth doing requires an investment.
Early in my twenties, I could tell you where all of the half-price appetizers and BOGO deals could be found. I was constantly looking for something cheap or free and if I could cut corners to get by, that’s what I did. Since then, I’ve learned a valuable lesson. Whether I’m talking about work projects, relationships, or financial investments, anything that’s worth doing is going to cost me something. If it’s too easy, I’ll probably be disappointed in the outcome. If it’s free, I’ll soon discover that you get what you pay for. Even if it’s more expensive or requires more time and energy, it’s defiantly worth it in the long run.
4. Don’t put off until tomorrow a conversation that really needs to happen today.
I hate confrontation. I was the guy that would eat the steak well-done instead of sending it back because I ordered it medium rare. I would almost rather end a relationship than have a hard conversation. And as a result of that attitude, I’ve missed some incredible moments of wisdom. I’ve discovered that the longer I put off a necessary conversation, the longer I let confrontation linger, the harder it is to initiate the confrontation. While I still hate confrontation, and my first reaction is to put it off, I am more quick to recognize the value to getting it out of the way today.
5. Count every moment because those are the moments that will count.
I began my first full-time preaching ministry when I was 23. I was determined, focused, and dumb. I spent every waking moment thinking about how to do my job with excellence and new ways to tell people about Jesus. While it’s great to work hard and plan well, there has to be moments when work takes a break. Life has taught me this lesson the hard way and I’m still learning. Everyday I simply need to stop thinking and live in the now. Conversations deserve my full attention. My family needs all of me when I’m home. I’m convinced that when I come to the end of my life, I’ll never look back on my life and wish I had spent more time working. I’m going to work hard to not let these moments pass me by.
6. Sometimes you just need to play in the dirt.
I love the work that I am privileged to do as a preacher. I never dread Mondays. I enjoy going to work. In fact early in my career I would often work on my days off. But now I’ve learned that days off are just as valuable as days at work. In fact it’s one of the ten commandments! And just as important as the work I don’t do on my days off is the play time that I get to do on my days off. This is a lesson my daughters are currently teaching me – sometimes you just need to sit down on the ground, get your hands dirty, and play in the dirt. It doesn’t have to have an outcome. You can dig a hole only to fill it back in. And that’s okay! Sometimes you just need to dump all of the blocks out. You can always clean it up later.