I love young people. But as a pastor, it pains me to see so many individuals who are in their twenties doing what they shouldn’t. The foundation you build in your twenties will define the rest of your life. The Bible urges you to become a master builder (1 Cor. 3:10). Therefore, if you are in your twenties or anywhere around that vicinity, here are twenty things you should stop doing:
Before you continue, please watch this video:
1. Playing Video Games. Playing video games is absolutely useless. There is nothing redemptive about it. They do not teach you anything except how to waste time and not do real work. I would strongly suggest you either throw them away or sell them on Craigslist. You will be glad you did.
2. Dating. If you have no intention of marrying the person you are dating, you should stop dating. Today. If you are living together, taking vacations together and seeing each other every day but have no wedding date set, you should part ways and consider the severe danger you have put yourself in.
3. Sleeping In. People who change the world are the ones who awoke before the rest of the world. Get into a healthy routine that will enable you to go to sleep and awake at a decent hour. Contrary to popular opinion, you won’t be thought of as awesome because you are able to stay up for two straight days.
4. Thinking You Know Everything. You don’t. I know this is a harsh reality because I also experienced it. I am not saying here that seniority necessarily equals maturity. But there are things out there that you just don’t know. That is ok. Listen more. Chew the meat. Spit out the bones.
5. Dreaming Too Small. If your dreams don’t scare you, your dreams are too small. God created us to do far greater things than we actually attempt. Twenty years from now, you will regret more of what you didn’t attempt rather than those things that you actually did.
6. Dreaming Too Big. Don’t dream so big that you are setting yourself up for a personal meltdown. Here is the real truth: most likely, you won’t appear on America Idol, you won’t get chosen to get onto Shark Tank and you won’t go viral. But guess what? That is totally ok. Who you are becoming, is more important than what you are accomplishing.
7. Setting Unrealistic Goals. In your twenties, you think you can take over the world. Never ever lose that stamina. But at the same time, set realistic goals for yourself. If by age twenty-five you have had no success in the Nashville music scene or the LA movie scene, I am not sure you will become the next Ben Affleck, Jennifer Anniston, Lecrae, Kate Perry or fill in the blank.
8. Looking For Approval. Everyone around you does not have to approve of you. Yes, validation is satisfying. But this should not be your end goal. The quickest way to frustration is trying to please everyone. Some people will like you. Some people will dislike you. No problem. Keep doing what you were called to do.
9. Comparing Yourself To Others. Don’t compare your behind the scenes to someone else’s highlight reel. You are unique. You are God’s best – not something He created after He was done with the rest. Be content with what you have. Be faithful in small. Complete others, instead of competing with others.
10. Buying Stuff. Don’t buy stuff you don’t need, with money you don’t have, to try to impress the people you don’t like. Simple.
11. Letting Others Predict A Future They Don’t Control. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t accomplish your wildest dreams. The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, usually do. Make sure you tune out the false prophets from your life.
12. Waiting For Others To Tell You What To Do. Don’t wait to be asked what to do. Initiate what needs to get done. Don’t wait to get chosen. Pick yourself. Don’t settle for the status quo but rather create that which the status quo is.
13. Getting Arrested. If you get a felony in your twenties, every application you fill out for employment will ask you to put that on there. Unless you are planning to be an entrepreneur and hire yourself – why would you ever taint your reputation with this avoidable event?
14. Being Selfish. Generosity is the new currency. Don’t just jump onto the bandwagon of your parents tithes and offerings. Give of what you earn. Be generous with your time, your talents and your energy. Give more. Ask for less. You won’t get much, until you start to give much.
15. Doing Work That Is Mediocre. Some of you don’t need a better job. You just need to do the job you have, better. Quit asking when your break is, when your lunch is or when you are off while you are at work. Focus on being amazing – regardless of how un-exciting your job is. If you can’t serve tables, make a cup of coffee or sell shoes – what makes you think you will excel at leading a huge organization?
16. Being Lazy. Be the leader. Take initiative. Do the hard work. Show up early. Leave late. Don’t worry about who gets the credit.
17. Shifting Blame Unto Others. The problem with your life is not your parents, your friends, your house, your income level, your zip code, your socio-economic status, the year you were born or the country you were born in. There are plenty of examples of people who beat all the odds. The only person you have to blame is the one you see in the mirror every day – because no one in your life is more influential than you.
18. Church Hopping. Visit others churches to check them out and see how they do things. But commit to one local church and devote your time to serve it. There is no other organization in the entire world that will help you mature and prosper more than a local church with solid pastors. Here is the thing: The church will survive without you, but you won’t be able to survive without the church. Stop the hop and bloom where you are planted.
19. Being Too Busy. It is very easy to be busy. But being busy doesn’t equal being productive or even effective. Work smarter, not harder. Don’t use the fact that you are busy as an excuse to not help your friends, be involved in your church or assist the people in your life who are in need.
20. Taking Yourself Too Seriously. Relax. Your life is not over. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Learn to laugh at yourself. Most people are not talking about you, I promise. When you walk into a room, most people are not looking at you, I promise. Poke some fun at yourself and don’t get offended when others do the same. You will be more human that way.
*One Additional Bonus Point For Free: Stop Living With Your Parents. If you get married, find a way to live on your own. Do not live with your parents. Even if you think it makes financial sense, it makes no relational sense. And that is a lot more important. Do what you can to get your own place, no matter what.
In less than two months, I will be exiting my twenties forever. The above list comes from someone who has made many mistakes, has a heart for young people, but wishes that you will take note and not repeat the same mistakes. Except the video game mistake. I owned an old school Sega once. But it was collecting dust more than half a decade before I ever even entered my twenties.
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Question: What else would you add to this list that people in their twenties should stop doing?