There are some decades that are more significant than others. When you turn 20, some kind of etherial reality sinks in that you are not in your ‘teens’ anymore. When you hit 25 there is something about the idea of ‘a quarter century’ that makes you think a little about the big decade to turn in 5 years and then the day comes where you actually turn 30. Yes, 30 years old or as I like to think of it 30 years VERY young.
Today, I bid ‘my 20’s’ farewell.
Frankly, I’m ecstatic to burst into my thirties with energy, passion, joy, focus and a sense of a little life experience under my belt. I like the idea of being 30. My good friend and mentor, Stan Endicott, always reminds me about the mark of the decades…which makes growing older sound like A LOT of fun! Stan says, ‘In your 20’s you discover who you are, in your 30’s you do it, in your 40’s you get really good at it, in your 50’s you train up and teach others how to do what you’ve done and in your 60’s you’re the wise old sage and you it’s then time to reinvent yourself. WOW, now I like that kind of thought process when I think about getting older, don’t you? I am so grateful for guys like Monty Kelso & Stan Endicott who have taken the decade of their 50’s to train and mentor guys like me, while I was in my 20’s, to go do what they have done in my 30’s. So much of that could be vocational in mindset, but, I like to think of it more holistically in my life. Sometimes we only see through the lens of work and I want to look at life with work as a driving component but certainly not the only defining element.
So what have been significant markers of my 20’s? What have I figured out about myself in this last decade of discovery and what are the implications for the dawning of a brand new decade? I thought I would just take some time to reflect and capture it here. One thing is for sure, although I have figured some things out, about who I am, I want to preface all I am about to write by acknowledging that I have certainly not arrived in completely understanding all of who I am. There is so much more to learn about who God has made me to be and the life value of becoming is one of my greatest discoveries. Never quit becoming! I’ll break my learnings down by reflecting in a few sections: Following Jesus, Life, Relationships & Vocation.
Following Jesus: The past 10 years have been a journey I could have never painted on a canvas of my own. First and foremost my 20’s were a decade of learning that when you choose to trust and follow Jesus, He will absolutely lead you! One of the biggest leaps of faith I’ve ever taken was as a 20 year old and I knew, with confidence, that I should I follow Jesus to Chandler, Arizona. It would be a time where He would have to show up like never before and wow did He ever. Trusting in a God that is predicated on ‘putting your faith in’ can sometimes feel pretty ambiguous in our finite human minds and especially as a punk 20 year old. All I know is that I am so glad that I made that choice to follow Jesus in these past 10 years and it has sincerely marked everything I have done with any significance. This verse has often come to mind in many seasons of having to trust Jesus with all that I am:
1 Peter 1:3-9
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Life: Some of the best life lessons I’ve learned in my 20’s have been rooted out of Galatians 5 and really soaking in trying to learn how to live in light of the fruit of the Spirit. Here’s what Galatians 5:22-23 says: ‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.’ I am so thankful that I have a lifetime to keep pursuing these things! I definitely need a few more decades to hone in to those great attributes of God. A few other quick life lessons I’ve learned…always be a student, ask lots of good questions, buy lots of different kinds of people coffee or lunch, be spontaneous/whimsical, travel and see the world, laugh a lot, don’t take yourself to seriously and lead a life full of gratitude and generosity. I’ve also learned that engaging the less fortunate is close to the heart of God and to ignore the plight of the poor is to ignore the missional call of Jesus in the hear and now. Truly some of the greatest joy I’ve experienced in the last decade have come from the experiences I have had being being with those who have had the most need. Jesus is truly with those people in a rare and beautiful way. James 1:27 puts it his way: Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
Relationships: First things first, I am so incredibly thankful for my wife, Promise. She has been the source of such great joy and is the sparkle factor of my life. I have fallen madly in love with you Promise Tangeman-Wurzell!! These years of our young marriage have been the most life-giving years of my life to date. We have shared the heights of joy, travelled the world, toured this great country on a bus (thanks for letting me tag along), sobbed together when we thought it could be cancer, slept in hospitals together, experienced healing, talked each other off of life’s cliffs (many a time), encouraged each other to accomplish dreams, accomplished some of those dreams and had TONS of fun in the midst of it all. I have been the greatest recipient of your love and I hope I can reciprocate it back to you! I am graced to be able to call such an incredible woman my bride and to think we are JUST getting started…what a ride!
I continue to learn that the secret to relationships, especially my marriage, is wrapped up in four things:
1. I don’t always need to be RIGHT (big epiphany for me & unbelievably freeing)
2. Admit when your wrong, apologize and ask for forgiveness (the power of confession)
3. Forgive quickly (the secret weapon to joy and peace)
4. Pray with people (don’t just tell people you ‘pray for them’ actually do it. the ministry of prayer is a game changer)
A couple final thoughts on relationships. I’m a naturally wired extrovert, so people energize me, but, I can say that diversity in relationships (regardless of how shallow or wide your contact list might be) has been something I’ve come to value at a high level. Get a mentor, in fact…get a few. I’ve got mentors pouring into me from every angle of life and these wise souls continue to show me the value of being a student. I would not be who I am becoming without the great mentors I’ve had through this last decade. If you are a 20-something reading this and you don’t have a mentor…just remember this is the decade of discovery and to try to figure it out on your own is A LOT harder. Find a mentor, make it a priority, learn to talk less and ask more questions. Oh and always have something to take a note down on while you’re learning from people!! My memory is terrible and most of the mentors I meet with say things that I hope to remember for the rest of my life. I simply cannot trust my learnings wholly to my memory…I’m still learning how to write it down! A few key areas I have mentors: vocation, theology, leadership and life/marriage.
My relationship with my parents is also a treasure. I continue to feel the great indebtedness to them for the spiritual foundation, in Christ, that they invested into deeply and in my young life. As Isaac Newton puts it, ‘If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.’ Mom and Dad, I am standing on your shoulders. Thanks for all you have done to exhibit love in your life and marriage. I’m a better man because of all of you continue to help me become.
Lastly, I have learned that taking time to celebrate, make a memory, mourn or just to pause and be present with people you care about is vitally important. There are some things in life you don’t get a do over on. Things like being at family members/close friends weddings, celebrating your parents lives, being with someone that is sick who you love, visiting people in the hospital, crying with family/friends who just lost someone that you/they love and so much more. A filter I have tried to begin using is…will my presence/investment in this ‘moment’ matter in 10-20 years? If it’s a yes…I do everything I can to be at whatever the moment might be! Sometimes it does, momentarily, inconvenience MY life…but…my late 20’s have taught me that it’s worth it! As Bob Goff says, as it relates to what would be ‘the last things you would do on earth’, ‘I’d want my last things to matter a lot too. I’d want them to point to something much bigger; much more meaningful; much more enduring and consistent than my short and wavering life. I would also want my last things to be about hope. I’d want my last things to act out a genuine faith. I’d want those last things that I did to be chock full of whimsy. Hope, faith and whimsy are great traveling companions too. I’ve experienced that hope makes it possible; faith makes it matter; and whimsy gives it shelf life.‘
Vocation: Probably the biggest thing I’ve learned about vocation in my 20’s is to work hard, stay committed, talk less, listen more and ask lots of questions. I’m incredibly grateful to Cornerstone Christian Fellowship to Linn Winters, Brent Richardson and Chris Haidet. Those guys believed in me even when I had no idea what I was doing and invited me to join a journey that I’ve been a part of, literally, almost all of my 20’s. What a ride and it’s not over either! :)
I am learning that reading is a key component to leading. The more I read the better I lead. This hasn’t always been an easy one for me and will likely be a continued learned discipline in my mildly A.D.D. personality type. All I can say is that I am a sharper person in m work when I’m reading to improve my professional aptitude.
I have also learned that my vocation isn’t everything. It is so easy to let ‘what I do’ be the definer of ‘who I am’ and I continue to learn that the opposite is actually true. I am trying to focus more consciously on the ‘who I am’ and let that shape ‘what I do’. So much of that has come out of fantastic mentoring and great people around me, but, at the end of the day being a great Worship Leader isn’t the end goal for my life. Although, I want to be a really great Worship Leader! Rather, to follow Jesus well and to let His life transform mine has the cause effect of me being great at ‘what I do’. Colossians 1:27, says, ‘CHRIST in ME the hope of glory!’ This is something I am also glad, God-willing, I will have a few more decades to refine!
I know this is quite a reflection, but, 30 is a quite a significant mile marker, at least to the guy who is turning 30. Thanks for letting me share some of what I’ve learned in my twenties, as I’ve been discovering WHO I AM! I’m actually ecstatic to wave goodbye to an AMAZING decade and welcome in this brand new one that will have, likely, even more significant moments. I think growing older is fascinating. The more life under your belt the more you have to offer people and the world! I also understand that around thirty, without proper eating & consistent exercise, ‘life’ can tend to hang under your belt too (God, help me)!
Lastly, I’m excited to see the man that God wants to produce in me as I willfully follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in my life. I’m excited to love Promise in ways I haven’t experienced yet. I want to live a life full of whimsy, fun and love with Promise! I am excited to consider the thought that KIDS will be a likely addition to our lives in this next decade. I am excited to understand life through the lens of a Father (God-willing) and I hope I’ll be a good one! I am excited to point people towards Christ with all that I am and to hopefully look a lot more like Him when I’m 40! I am excited for the unknown, the whimsy things Promise and I will do, the people I’ll meet, the experiences I don’t yet know about and for each breath I’ll breathe! Truly, I am grateful and have much to celebrate as I wave goodbye to my 20’s and say HELLO to my 30’s!