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5 Things to do Before Turning 30

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?

 

Should We Give Help but Not Receive it?

Written By Kim Cheung, China, originally in Simplified Chinese

During dinner some days ago, my father lamented about how times have changed. It used to be that bosses care about their workers even outside of work. When my grandfather worked at an architecture company, his manager would always visit the family every Lunar New Year, bringing some money along and asking if our family needed any form of help.

There was one time our family needed help building a house, and the manager sent some workers to help out. My grandfather initially refused this help. My dad shared that people back then often thought that accepting help would cause one to “lose face”.

I cannot help but think that nothing has changed today. Many people are willing to help others but unwilling to accept help.

Most of us have been brought up to give selflessly. A willing heart that gives selflessly, without expecting anything in return, is exceedingly noble. I used to think like that.  When I was in school, I would gladly help my classmates. However, it was very difficult for me to ask for help from others. This persisted even after I graduated. Many times, deep down inside me, I knew that I needed help. Yet I was unwilling to ask for it. In fact, when others actively lent a helping hand, I found it difficult to accept.

Should we encourage this behavior? Does God desire us to give help but not receive it?

God teaches us that we should carry each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). The Bible also reminds us that in Christ, we are all members of one body (1 Corinthians 12:12-27). Helping each other involves two parties. If everyone refuses to accept help, who can we then help? How can we then live as a body of Christ?

 

Pride lies behind the refusal for help

God wants us to joyfully give and joyfully receive. So why is it that people find it so difficult to receive? If you ask me, the reason behind this difficulty is pride. Yes, you read that right.

We are often unwilling to admit our own weaknesses, and we are afraid that others may see them. In order to protect this fragile ego of ours, we refuse to accept help. I realized this around three years ago when I started thinking more deeply about the topic of giving and receiving. Looking back, I realized that my pride was my Achilles’ heel and the underlying reason I was unwilling to seek or accept help.

Trusting God is difficult when you refuse help

Giving without receiving makes it difficult to trust in God. God wants us to admit our utter brokenness so that we can completely cast our burdens on Him and trust in Him. The Apostle Paul said, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10) How can we surrender and trust in God fully if we deny help and rely on ourselves completely? We cannot know God genuinely if we do not admit our brokenness.

I remember one time when I showed up for a fellowship gathering burdened with conflicted emotions. At the time, I was deeply fatigued and though I could hardly bear it, I put up a strong façade. When it was time to share, I planned on talking about minor things that did not matter. However, an inner voice reminded me that I needed to come before God in truth. Just like that, my defense was demolished. I cried my heart out in the presence of fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. I confessed that I needed help. I confessed that I was not the least bit strong.

I am deeply thankful that God broke me, allowed me to see the dangers of pride, and allowed me to be built up again in His truth through His community of believers. Now, I often come before God in my helpless state, crying for His help. I know that I have nothing. I can do nothing. If not for God’s strength, every step I take would be difficult.

I also seek help from fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Whenever I am feeling troubled by life, I not only ask them to pray for me, but also seek their advice. The love and help my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ have blessed me with has helped me to feel the faithfulness of God. I also deeply feel the close connections I have with other members of the body of Christ.

 

Joyful acceptance sets us free

When I lay down my pride, I can finally be free of my struggles. When I joyfully accept help, I experience brand new freedom. I admit that I have weaknesses and I am inadequate. It is only when I completely surrender that God can have full control over my life. When I obey His will, God can demonstrate His strength in my weakness.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, God wants you to have this freedom as well. Are you willing to lay down your pride that God may take control of your life?

How God Taught Me to Give

Written By Ching, Singapore

I am surrounded by giving people. Their tireless generosity is inspiring to me, and I want to emulate their giving spirit.

My mum and her siblings are some of the people who have showed me what it looks like to give often and consistently―they exchange gifts almost on a weekly basis! They remind me of Romans 12:10, which teaches us to love our spiritual siblings affectionately and to “outdo one another in showing honor”.

I also have friends who painstakingly craft handiworks with love, spending much time and effort in doing so. I know others who buy gifts consistently and make it a discipline to give often. There are also people working in the social sector who give so much that it hurts, even though they are sometimes repaid with scorn and complaints instead of gratitude.

I have also met churches, led to be generous by their leaders, that often give and bless their fellow church members and the immediate community that they love, serve, and reach out to. The beauty of generosity on a broader scale is magnificent. I have peers in Thailand that have shown me what hospitality looks like by receiving me with sacrificial love. I have mentors who have modeled for me long-term generosity over decades, and I have seen their long-suffering.

Yet despite having so many examples of generosity in my life, I have still found it difficult to live out this generous lifestyle. I learn all I want, but still end up never doing anything, nor wanting to. I wasn’t much of a giver; I was more of a taker.

In 2014, I decided to experiment with giving often.

Throughout that year, I found myself wavering between extremes. There were days when I did not want to give at all, and I became self-indulgent and “gave” to myself. Other times I gave out of selfish motives. What began as an experiment to try being more generous, revealed how selfish I was. I began to realize that generosity was not a natural human instinct. Without the help of the Holy Spirit, we are simply not able to give freely. Through my selfishness, I saw how truly our hearts need Christ.

As I began to comprehend the amazing grace Christ gave us―even dying on the cross for us―I began to understand that we are called to be a part of His mission and, as His representatives here on earth, to exhibit His generosity. Generosity comes only from the Holy Spirit’s work within us, Christ’s life in us, and the love of God our Father overflowing in our lives. In short, generosity is a work of God in our lives.

In 2014, I slowly learned to be more generous. God helped me learn lessons from people around me. He also gave me a workplace with a very generous culture.

I began giving random presents to colleagues and friends. Then I started intentionally treating friends on their birthdays. Then I was modeling generosity, week in and week out, for those I shepherd. Soon I realized that my generosity needed a more intentional effort, and that planning was required.

I began budgeting. The principle of “Give, Save, Spend” helped me become more intentional in generosity. From small, spontaneous trinket-gifts, I moved on to slowly saving up and giving consistently so that others can be blessed over a longer period of time. A group of friends and I combined our resources so that we could help fund the school fees of one of our friends who was studying to go into full-time ministry.

Generosity has become a part of my lifestyle. I was giving consistently and intentionally. But I also realized that sometimes we give without love.

In 1 Corinthians 13:3, Paul says “If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” Even if we give away everything, but do it not out of Christ’s love, we gain nothing.

Nothing.

Serving in the helping profession, there have been moments where I failed to show empathy and genuine concern for the people I had been tasked to care for. Instead of giving out of love, I found myself giving because I wanted to be validated, which ultimately led to disappointment and guilt.

Our generosity needs to be an overflowing of Christ’s love for us, and also an intentional message about our Father’s love.

You might be thinking, “But I am no Mother Teresa,” “I am not rich,” or “I am not some noble helper”. But the people who have inspired me by their life of generosity were from all walks of life, from the very poor to the very rich. Being generous is a consistent intentional lifestyle.

A beggar I’ve met in a subway station once shared with me how every day of the week, a different Christian will befriend him or cook him dinner or speak to him. He also told me how some of them have even become his friends, and visit him as often as they can.

Christian generosity must be different from what everyone else does. We have the message of a very rich King who emptied himself and became poor, died, and rose again, so that we can be adopted into His family.

Get to know your daddy God intimately. Knowing our identity as a child of God, we can then reflect our Father’s generosity to all.

Why Didn’t I Give More?

Written By Charles Christian, Indonesia

Once, while my friends and I were having dinner, a skinny boy in a worn-out t-shirt and shorts approached us to sell tissue paper.

Initially, we didn’t respond as we weren’t interested in buying any. But the boy, probably about 10, kept standing there, with a hopeful look on his face.

Finally, one of my friends asked, “How much is the tissue, brother?”

“5,000 rupiah,” he said.

She whipped out a 5,000 rupiah note (USD $0.40) from her wallet and handed it to the boy. After giving her a packet of tissue, the boy moved on to the next table.

It then occurred to me that the tissue in my car was about to run out. And since the price of the tissue the boy had quoted was the same as what I had paid the last time I bought tissue from a shop, I went up to buy a packet from the boy, just before we left the place.

As I traveled home that day, I couldn’t help but think about the boy.

How many rejections had he faced that day? How much money did he earn? Did he have enough to meet his needs? What if I had bought five packs instead of one and given him 50,000 rupiah?

Perhaps that would have allowed him to take a break for the day. Or perhaps it would have motivated him to work even harder, knowing that his efforts would pay off. Or better still, it might have led him to believe that there are people in this world who care enough about people like him.

Suddenly, I regretted that I had bought only one pack of tissue from him. At least he was trying to make a livelihood by honest means instead of begging. If I had thought about all this earlier, I would have been able to show love to someone who might be desperately craving it.

Then I realized the ugly truth: The reason why none of these thoughts had crossed my mind earlier was that I had been too preoccupied in my own needs. All I had considered was: Did I need the tissue? Was the price he quoted reasonable? What’s in it for me?

My focus had been on the “I”. It was only when I took time later to evaluate my actions that I considered the boy’s needs instead.

God wants us to consider the needs of others before ourselves. The Bible tells us in Philippians 2:3-4, “in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

In fact, Jesus goes one step further to identify himself with this group of people, saying that “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40). What this means is that any opportunity to give what we have—our time, energy, or money—to someone in need, is an opportunity to serve Jesus.

Shouldn’t that inspire us to give more, and to give often?