From the way I see life (and many others for that matter), the most impactful years of a person’s life are in between the ages of 18-22. When you’re in these years, no one quite knows what to call you. You’re getting out of high school where most everything you did had to be okayed by your parents to a stage either in work or college where you are starting to learn what life is like as an independent. It’s in these years that you find who your true friends are, what you truly believe and hold to, and start to develop your passions and plans.
In these years, a person, regardless of if they try to or not, sets the course for the rest of their life. Not to say that a person can’t change their life pursuits later on in life, but most of a person’s values, beliefs, and pursuits are formed in these years and are lived out in the years that follow.
Because of this, I see these four years as being the most crucial years of my life. And because of this, my goal is to be as intentional as possible in taking opportunities and doing as much as I can to let God develop me and put me on the path He wants me on during these years.
Yesterday I turned 19. I am officially 25% of the way done with the most impactful years of my life. As I think back on the lessons I’ve learned and look ahead to my goals for this next year of life, I see a clear purpose in how God is developing me.
Shortly before I turned 18, God began developing in me a love for culture, the world, and traveling. That led me to reading and learning much about the world that I never knew. This also led me to growing in my knowledge of God at Moody through my studies and relationships with friends. The year ended with the ‘real life’ exposure to what I’ve been studying in my trip to Southeast Asia. It was yet again another stepping stone in this journey of life. If I had to sum up my aim over the past year it would be learning and exposing.
I learned much about myself, God, the world, and people this year and was exposed to new lifestyles, perspectives, cultures, and languages. I developed a love for learning and have been humbled many a time by realizing how little I know and how much I still have to learn. But that’s the joy in life, we’re all in the process and we all should be life learners.
As I look ahead to my second of the four most impactful years of my life, I’ve been thinking much on what my goals are for the year. As I’ve thought, prayed, and sought counsel, I’ve come back with a few main goals that I hope to experience and grow in this upcoming year.
Learn. As I shared, the more I learn, the more I learn how much I have to learn! Learning truly is a lifelong process and I hope to continue growing in my knowledge of God, the world, and people.
Exposure. I’ve had the privilege to travel (minimally) and some have even deemed me a “world traveler”. I laugh and think this is completely inaccurate, but I do hope and plan to travel more in the next year and keep seeing life outside of my comfort zone. The world is a big and beautiful place just waiting to be explored and impacted by wide-eyed young people. I hope to keep being one of those people and let the new experiences of travel and exposure shape me and mold me into a more mature individual.
Mobilize. Christian missions is a huge passion of mine and sharing with others and raising awareness for the need for people to get involved is one of my favorite things. God has blessed me with many opportunities to share my experiences with others, but I hope to see more chances to share with others and encourage them to find their place in God’s global plan (for more info on God’s global plan, read my blog on missions here).
Disciple. I cannot thank God enough for the many people He has put in my life that have poured into me for years. I truly believe I have been blessed with some of the best mentors I could possibly have and have been surrounded by some of the strongest men and women of God that I know. To them I am forever grateful. But over the course of this last year I’ve seen how selfish I have been. I have received their counsel, instruction, and encouragement and have not sought to disciple someone else myself. As I was recently reminded in church, we all ought to have someone pour into us and ourselves be pouring into others. Those that give more grow more.
So I know this might sound more like a personal journal than it does a blog (which most of my blogs tend to be), I do want to leave you with something to think about.
For those of you that are in your 18-22 range of age or are about to be, what are you doing to be intentional in letting God develop you as a person? There is no set answer to this question; it will look different for each person. I’ve learned that if we aren’t intentional, we miss out on a lot of opportunities. Think today about what you can intentionally do to let God shape you during these impactful years.
For those of you that are older, don’t feel like it’s too late to still make changes and let God shape you. Moses and Paul for example were not given their life direction until they were grown adults. It’s never too late to let God shape you and direct your steps. Be intentional to let God show you His plan for you–even if that might result in you having to make changes.
As many of us students are heading back to school, I would like to share a picture that fits my hope for this school year.
It’s silly but oh so true. Let God take you out of your comfort zone. God has much to teach us and life is so much greater outside of our comforts.
So, here’s to another year of life. I pray that I will let God continue to grow me and guide me into the path He desires for me and I hope and pray that you too will let God do this as well regardless of your stage of life.