I turned forty last Thursday. I know, whoopty do. But I’ve been contemplating some of the most significant lessons I’ve learned along the way. And so I wrote them down in no particular order. Here they are:
1. I am a sinner in need of a Savior.
2. Jesus is the only one in the Savior category.
3. My wife’s love for me reminds me of Jesus’s love for me.
4. My kids are awesome.
5. God knows me better than I know myself.
6. “We love those who know the worst of us yet don’t turn their faces away” (Walker Percy).
7. A people-pleasing kind of life is not fun.
8. Conviction of sin is not the same thing as repentance.
9. Read the Bible every day.
10. If you wait until you feel like praying to start praying, you’ll never pray.
11. Life is not a competition to be won.
12. “True friends stab you in the front” (Oscar Wilde).
13. I rarely lose my temper (seriously, ask my wife!) but when I do it’s because other people aren’t treating me like I’m the center of the universe.
14. You can’t beat a person who doesn’t care if he loses.
15. When someone criticizes you, resist the temptation to criticize them in return. Die to yourself. It shreds the ego. Get on the cross and stay there.
16. Love is not unconditional affirmation.
17. Passive-aggressive behavior is unbecoming.
18. If you ignore problems, they don’t go away.
19. Don’t let the sins you see in someone else’s life control you.
20. I’m 40 and basically still want my mom to hold me and tell me everything’s going to be okay.
21. God doesn’t make the hard things in life go away.
22. Spend time around people with a good sense of humor. Laughing is fun.
23. Listen to your parents. They’re smarter than you are.
24. “Make friends with books. They’ll never leave you nor forsake you” – HB Charles.
25. Don’t worship your heroes. “All of your heroes are frauds, just like you” (Andy Mineo).
26. Vulnerability invites intimacy.
27. Don’t read the church growth gurus. They’re mostly wrong. Pastoral ministry isn’t rocket science.
28. Spend time every day reading poetry. (Here is a good place to start)
29. Life is too short to drink bad coffee and read mediocre books.
30. Read novels (unless, of course, they’re mediocre. See lesson #29). Here’s one of my recent favorites.
31. Loving others when there’s nothing in it for you is incredibly sanctifying.
32. All genuine pastoral ministry is rooted in a feeling of desperation and the simultaneous abandonment to the promises of God’s Word. It sounds like, “If God doesn’t act, then this is doomed to fail.”
33. There are three kinds of conversations to have: 1) Competitive, where the goal is to win. 2) Informational, where the goal is to get your point across. 3) Connecting, where the goal is to connect at the heart-level with others. Make sure you do the third kind the most.
34. Cultivate childlike wonder and kill cynicism.
35. I should have deleted my social media account a long time ago. “One of the great uses of Facebook and Twitter will be to prove at the Last Day that prayerlessness was not from lack of time” – John Piper
36. Silence and solitude remind you that you have a soul.
37. The older I get, the more beautiful I find God’s ways.
38. “Complaining is usually a veiled lament about deeper issues of the soul” (Craig Barnes).
39. You can’t achieve your way into significance.
40. Ministering to people during times of grief and death makes me long for the new heavens and the new earth: “Your eyes will behold the King in his beauty. . . . there the LORD in majesty will be for us a place of broad rivers and streams . . . And no inhabitant will say, ‘I am sick’; the people who dwell there will be forgiven their iniquity” (Isaiah 33:17, 21, 24).