I recently celebrated my 26th Birthday all to the glory of God. The moment was marked by an outpouring of messages from strangers and family alike. I read every message and savoured the kindness.
What is the point of life? I know it sounds dramatic, but I often find myself asking this question every year around the November mark. Maybe it’s my training in philosophy, maybe it’s my natural curiosity or maybe it’s a deeper thing in me, never satisfied, always looking for more.
In prayer this week, a slightly obscure scripture came to mind. Philippians 2 :17. First, some context, Paul in this passage is writing from a Philippian jail. From all secular accounts, his campaign to make Jesus known was not going well. It had landed him in jail. The natural response would be to assume him as being downcast, sad or even disillusioned. However, in Philippians 2:17 Paul says;
But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and the service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of youPhilippians 2:17
There it hit me. The meaning of life is to find a cause greater than yourself that you don’t mind being poured out like a drink offering for. I’m sure I’m not alone in saying this year has been difficult! I’ve often felt like Paul in that jail, however I know God is up to something. I’m blessed to because I’ve found something I will gladly expire doing!
Here are 26 lessons I’ve learned in the last 26 years.
1) Self-care is everything. If you are going to be a world shaker, change agent, trailblazer and anything else, you cannot do it running on empty. It’s imperative that you take time to check on yourself and invest in your self-care. Find what brings you peace, what relaxes you etc.
2) Discipleship. You need to order and categorize all the different voices you hear in your life. If everyone’s voice is worth the same you will end up being confused and frustrated. Find people that can take intentional care of you and who’s thoughts and ideas you value highly.
3) Humble yourself. Do not get carried away, you don’t know anything yet. Always be a student. There is so much information you do not know and to acquire it often means walking in humility. God says he gives grace (empowerment) to the humble but resists the proud.
4) Clean up your house. Before you go out and change the world, put your house in order. Practice what you preach and be the best living example of all your wisdom. If this is really hard, then you probably need to preach less. Focus more energy on living it.
5) Go together. If you want to go fast, go alone If you want to go far, go together. Learn to ask for help from people. There are so many benefits from hearing the thoughts and opinions of other people. Even if you think you know what you are doing. Link arms and build consensus.
6) Social media is not real life. So many people are constantly making claims and it can feel as though you are behind. You’re probably not. Everyone here puts their best foot forward and you are far more aware of your shortcomings than theirs. It’s an unfair comparison.
7) Cherish Support. No one owes you anything. Always be happy and show appreciation for those that support you with nothing to gain. It is one of the most amazing things in the world to have the support of strangers.
8) Come offline. In this increasingly digital world, it can be tempting to live vicariously through your online avatar. Resist that temptation. Come offline and invest in real and meaningful interactions. Go out for food, coffee, holidays, see people in real life and engage.
9) Don’t do, be. Being is far more important than doing. Who you are is far more important than what you do. Do not let the world squeeze you into a box defined by your job title or your startup. You are first and foremost a child of God, made in his image.
10) Deal with it. Whatever you don’t deal with, will deal with you. It is important you confront personal issues otherwise they are simply a ticking time bomb. It can be hard to do because you need courage and strength. Pray for it, draw it from friends and family, but don’t ignore it.
11) Never waste a good crisis. When things are not going well, grab a notebook, you are about to learn things you will not learn through any other period in your life. Do not let this moment pass without you taking some key principles that will change your life.
12) Share Happiness. Happiness does not diminish from being shared. You lose nothing from making other people smile and brightening up their day. A single candle can light up ten thousand without losing anything, SHARE Happiness.
13) Never admire quietly. If you admire someone, tell them, reach out and tell people what you think. They probably need to hear it. Let’s create a culture where we openly say who inspires us and motivates us! It’s healthy for both parties.
14) There is enough space. The stars in the sky don’t compete to shine. There is enough space for everyone to make their dreams come true without robbing other people. You shouldn’t feel bad when other people are getting their own. There is space for you too, be patient.
15) Be patient. Patience is not simply waiting. Instead, patience is your disposition whilst you wait. Are you restless or are you confident that His word will come to pass? When you are impatient you are saying two things. My timing is better/God doesn’t always keep his promises.
16) Forgive. When you don’t forgive, it’s like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Unforgiveness slows you down and is unfair treatment of yourself. Why punish yourself with bitterness because someone else hurt you.
17) Don’t lie. Truth is amazing because it creates order out of chaos. It brings light out of the darkness. When we tell the truth, it shatters pretence, illusions and brings much-needed order and clarity. Being an ambassador of truth will enrich your life and those around you.
18) Friends. Don’t subject yourself to a friendship group that is unhealthy. It’s crucial to your journey that you are with sound people that can help you grow and that you can share memories with. You need people that can give you sound challenge embedded in love.
19) Let go. Don’t be afraid to let go of toxic people and toxic relationships. The difficulty often comes because you are too focused on what you are loosing. Think instead of what you are gaining. Freedom and more edifying relationships. It is a good trade-off.
20) Never Shrink. Never think you have to make yourself small to make other people feel comfortable. Their perception problems are not your problems and you are not to blame for their insecurities. Be the most authentic version of yourself and stop feeling guilty for being gifted.
21) What room are you in? If you are the smartest in a room, you are in the wrong room. Always look for rooms where you are small fish. It can be uncomfortable for your pride but it will enrich your life. You need an image of the future and these rooms can provide that.
22) Defend your friends. When you are in places where people talk bad about people you know. Defend them. Don’t sit by idly whilst lies are told about people you care about. Defend their honour and their character.
23) Pray for your leaders. It’s important that you support and pray for your leaders and mentors. They are going ahead of you to go through things so you don’t have to. They are fighting for you and it’s important you ALWAYS show appreciation. Support them and bless them.
24) Love GOD will all your heart. He wants to be glorified and you have this desire to be satisfied. When your desire to be satisfied meets His desire to be glorified, you have a beautiful thing. God is most glorified when you are most satisfied in him.
25) Find A Cause. Find a cause to pour your life out like a drink offering for. The quicker you find this, the sooner you will start living.
26) Be Kind.