Though it still feels like college wasn’t that long ago, my friends and I are now all closer to 30 than we are to 20. 30 seems like a big milestone. Right now, we’re still exploring, still jumping between jobs, still trying to decide “what we want to do when we grow up.” But by the time you turn 30, you’re supposed to be an adult, right? Steady job, living on your own, building a family, all that good stuff?
What are some things you want to accomplish before turning 30? Here’s my list.
1. Read the entire Bible through at least once (more)
I want to read the Bible through again. My father and I read through the Bible together when I was 18, from Genesis to Revelation. It was sort of a “sending me off to college” thing. He wanted to equip me before I went off to college and entered the big bad world. And the best way he knew to do so was to give me God’s Word.
I read the Bible through again some time after graduation, as I was starting a new stage in life. As I pass through different stages of life, I’ve realized more and more that God’s Word really does have answers to any question we might have. Often the Bible does not tell us directly what we want to know (“apply to this job and not that one”), but God has given clear and sufficient guidelines on how to live.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” The Bible thoroughly equips us for every good work, in whatever circumstance of life. Before turning 20, I want to read God’s Word in its entirety again, maybe even multiple times, because I know there is no better preparation for a new phase in life than to read and re-read God’s love letters to us.
2. Cook a meal for someone else
During my college years, I loved it when others invited me over for dinner. Of course, being fed is always great. But there was also something restful about being in a home, after so many hours spent in our transient dorms. When someone invites me home for dinner, they are inviting me into their lives in a way that just doesn’t quite happen at a restaurant or a coffee shop. Oh, and the conversations we had, lingering late into the night over the dining table after a wholesome meal!
I want to share that with those around me. By the time I’m 30, I hope I’ll have at least a basic set of life skills: cooking, budgeting, cleaning the toilet. And I hope that I will be learning to use these skills in service of others.
It won’t always be easy. Some of us live in small apartments. Some have roommates. Right now, my husband and I are temporarily staying at my parents’. But hospitality is not a fancy dinner (Proverbs 15:17). It is about sharing what we have with others, because we know that Christ gave His all for us.
Opening up our homes for others draws them close, tells them that they are more than strangers, that they matter. Christ has invited us into His family. Let us do likewise, and invite others into our lives by the simple act of cooking them a meal, perhaps through that we can share the feast of God’s love with them as well.
3. Make a good friend older than myself
I am in the process of settling in a new church because of a recent move. It would be easy for me to surround myself with people my age, or in similar stages of life as me. We can commiserate over the parental pressures that still loom large in our lives. We can talk about the uncertainties faced by every twenty-something-year-old. We can fantasize about our first apartment or house.
But I need more than just people my age. In Titus 2:3-5, Paul lays out a picture of an older woman teaching younger women Christian virtues. When I read that, I think to myself, I would like that—having the friendship of someone who has walked the paths I am walking, who can share of her wisdom. I have my mother, who is a solid Christian and is excellent at living out the Bible. And I have learned so much from her. But sometimes it’s nice to have a different voice. Someone I haven’t had over 20 years of experience ignoring.
This means that I would need to move beyond my comfort zone. At church, I would need to talk to people I am not naturally drawn to. I need to share honestly my experience and worries. Because why would someone open up to me if I do not open up to them first?
Not everyone I talk to will become a mentor or teacher. That’s okay. If I persist in building relationships, eventually some will bear fruit. I look forward to being discipled, so that I may in turn disciple others.
4. Start serving regularly in church
Like I mentioned earlier, I am settling into a new church. The church is just big enough that I may slip through the cracks of serving without drawing much notice.
I’ve never liked serving in church. I’m shy and for the most part am intimidated by the idea of having to interact with people. When asked about my spiritual gifts, I shrug and smile self-deprecatingly. But this is to be my spiritual family. Christ called me to love these people (John 13:35). He even showed me how to love them by setting an example and washing the feet of His disciples (John 13:15).
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10). I don’t really know what gifts I have. I like reading. I like in-depth study of the Bible. But how can I use these skills to serve my brothers and sisters in Christ? Especially when I don’t particularly like interacting with people?
I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s only one thing to do. Look around to see what opportunities there are to serve at my church, and try serving for some time in one position or another until I find one that fits. Not necessarily one that I like immediately, but one where I am doing what the church needs to be done, and that few other people are able or willing to do. By God’s grace, I will learn to like it and will flourish in service to my brothers and sisters in Christ.
5. Start to give regularly
In our twenties, we usually start earning some sort of income. The hope is that as we approach 30, our income becomes more stable and we will be more able to support ourselves and our families.
But you know what’s more important than earning an income? Giving it away.
Paul urged the Corinthians, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).
It’s not easy to give cheerfully. I worked hard for what little I have. Why should I give it away? Or take my current situation as an example. My husband and I are only making a portion of what we need (which is why we’re living with the parents for a season). Surely, it would be more responsible to save up so we could move out sooner and be less of a burden to others?
Paul continues by saying, “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8). God isn’t promising to give us as much money as we think we need. What we think we need is often very different from what we do need. God promises to give us what we need so that we might “abound in every good work.”
While our finances are not quite where we want them, we are practicing reliance on God, and trusting that He will make good on His promises and give us what we need for good works. We strive to give regularly at church (and fail at times) because we trust that God will take care of us in all our needs. And because we need to be reminded, week after week, that God is the one who gave us everything that we have. All our money, time, and talents belong to Him.
What are some things you hope to do before turning 30?