“I’m so tired of this stage of life, I just want to skip ahead to when I’m older and in the prime of my life and career.”
It was just a few months ago, in the safety of a conversation with a close friend, that I found those words spilling out of my mouth. Needless to say, it wasn’t my proudest moment.
Maybe you’re like me, a twentysomething who all too often day dreams of fast-forwarding through the next decade to get to the perceived Promised Land of mid-life. Or maybe you’re the opposite. Maybe you’re loving your twenties and are taking full advantage of them to live as free as possible while you still can.
Whether you find yourself wishing you could escape your twenties or wishing they’d never end, one thing seems certain: Our culture has never expected less from twentysomethings than they do now.
With the continued extension of adolescence into life’s third decade, and less responsibility than many previous generations of young people, it’s never been easier to wander aimlessly through one’s twenties than it is today. Here are three steps you can take to make sure that doesn’t happen:
1. Get a Counselor
In August 2013, I had a breakdown and wasn’t sure what to do. I was in the first year of what was proving to be a challenging pastorate, and things weren’t going as well as I’d planned or dreamed they would. More people were leaving the church than joining it, and for one of the first times in my life, I felt like I was failing and didn’t have answers.
Fortunately, a friend pointed me toward a local counselor who works with pastors, and with great trepidation, I scheduled an appointment with him. It has proven to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Many people only choose to pursue counseling later in life after things have started to fall apart. Unfortunately, by that point, much of what you’re doing is damage control. But there’s another option. By pursuing counseling in your twenties you can get out in front of potentially crippling problems and put a plan in place to avoid them in the future.
Don’t waste your twenties running from your problems. Get a counselor and face them head on.
2. Work for Free
One of my dreams is to one day be able to support my family in part through income generated from a speaking ministry. That dream is still a long way off, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways I can start to make it a reality even now.
In some cases, twentysomethings are low on professional experience but high on time. That means there’s no better opportunity than now to earn experience doing what you hope to get paid to do one day by investing the time to work for free in order to gain experience.
One of the most rewarding experiences of my past year was volunteering to serve as a chapel speaker for a recovery ministry in my community. While speaking to those 20 or so men every month forced by the program to be there isn’t the same as speaking to a full auditorium of people who paid to be there that I dream of, it’s a start.
As Jesus Himself promises, those who are faithful with little will be entrusted with much. Don’t waste your twenties lamenting the fact that the fullness of your dreams isn’t there for the taking yet. Work for free, be faithful with the little you’ve got, and watch what God does with that faithfulness.
3. Find a Church
Being “spiritual but not religious” may be a cultural trend, but local communities of faith all across the country are paying the price. So are twentysomething’s who float through that critical decade disconnected from the uniquely life-giving power of the local church. I truly believe that putting down roots in a local church is one of the best decisions a twentysomething can make for themselves.
Local churches provide a safe place for twentysomethings to connect in community with people who are further along life’s journey than they are. They provide a place for twentysomethings to experience God through the lives and faith of people who are extraordinarily different than they are. And it goes without saying that the benefits twentysomethings can bring to local churches is off the charts.
Every church needs more of the youthfulness, enthusiasm and vigor that twentysomething’s bring to the table. And the fulfillment service brings is more than worth the cost. Avoid floating from one church to another or not going at all, and instead, plug in to a local church and grow from the experience Christ came to create.
Grant Diamond was called to serve as the Senior Pastor of Faith Baptist Mill Creek when he was just 23 years old, and he is doing his best to not waste his twenties. You can check out his blog at leadwhereyouare.today or follow him on twitter @grantlovesjesus