Today I turn 40! I’m at the half-way point of life (hopefully still on the front end) and so I stopped to ask myself, “What have I learned?” So here’s my best shot at the top six lessons I’ve learned in life so far:
1. Jesus Christ is Life – One of my favorite passages in Scripture is John 15:5 when Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” I have learned that Jesus Christ is more than a safety net, more than a fire escape, more than a crutch, more than a once-per-week experience, and more than an extra piece in the puzzle of life. HE IS LIFE! It is in Christ that my life finds its truest meaning and its greatest fruitfulness. Without Him, I cannot do ANYTHING of eternal value. If you’ve never encountered a relationship with Christ, what are you waiting for?
2. There’s Nothing Like a Happy Family – I love my wife Karen and our daughter Ashley. And having a happy family creates a sense of joy that cannot be described. I love spending time with Karen and Ashley and I love helping them make their dreams come true. I wouldn’t want to spend my life with anybody else. I truly look forward to growing old together. And when I look at my parents, I see two people that have modeled integrity, humility, and a life of service–great examples.
3. “Iron Sharpens Iron” Friends Make Life Rich – Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” In recent years God has brought some wonderful friends into my life. Whether its working out together in the mornings, sitting at Starbucks discussing life and holding one another accountable, or enjoying lunch together, these friends make my life rich.
4. My Commitment to Personal Growth Defines My Retirement Age – I once heard a man say that many people “mentally” retire before they turn 30 because they simply stop growing. Retirement is more a state of mind than a physical age. I’ve come to realize that my commitment to lifelong personal growth ultimately determines the contribution I will make to my world. How I grow catalyzes every area of my life. When I stop growing, I’m done. Every year for the last ten years I’ve created a personal growth plan to help me strategically grow in important areas of life. Do I successfully reach all of my growth goals? No! But I’ve experienced more growth in the last ten years than I did in the previous 30. I LOVE growing! My retirement is a long way off.
5. Understanding My Life Purpose Is Essential to a Life of Contribution – In my early thirties I made a decision to spend several months really clarifying God’s unique purpose for my life. The more I understood how God had wired me, the clearer my purpose became. Today, my life mission is to lead, coach, and equip leaders and those around me to engage in the process of personal growth, develop their full leadership capacity, and produce effective, Kingdom advancing ministry. In everything I do, I aim to help people grow, recruit and develop leaders, and help others maximize their Kingdom contribution. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
6. Living in My Sweet Spot is a Really Big Deal – I have a friend who always said, “You will make your greatest contribution to the world through your strengths not your weaknesses. Therefore, it only makes sense to grow your strengths as much as possible.” Over the years I’ve become increasingly clear on my God given strengths, passions, and personality. When I play to these strengths, I live in my sweet spot–that place God designed me to serve in. I am convinced more than ever that strengths-based living is a big deal–a REALLY big deal. My greatest strengths include strategic thinking/planning, recruiting, coaching, and developing leaders, writing, and communicating. The more I do these four things, the greater the difference I will make in my world.
Well–that’s six lessons from 40 years of life. Hopefully there will be a few more when I turn 50. Keep growing!