I turned 33 yesterday.

I have now had as many birthdays on this earth as Jesus.

I really just can’t accept the fact that many of the men in the Scriptures were younger than I am at this moment. I still find it to be true that you don’t really wake up one day feeling like an adult. You just find yourself with more bills, responsibilities, joint stiffness, and hair growing in the wrong places.

I have the rare opportunity this weekend to rest without my kids – thanks to my amazing parents – and rest usually leads me to reflection. As I reflect on finishing my 33rd year on this spinning ball of dirt and rock, and am primarily grateful. For my wife, my kids, my parents, my health, my country, my church… and for all the times God saved me from ruining my life.

The older I get, the more totally certain I am that any good in my life – any success or happiness – is all grace. I’m far too naive, selfish, and short-sited to have constructed the amazing things that God has done in my life.

For my 30th birthday, Stephanie arranged for me to have lunch with my pastor and pick his 40-year-old brain about what he would tell his 30-year-old self. I wrote a bit about that here.

Here are a few additional thoughts that I would share with a younger man:

  • Time is fleeting: Go back and read the book of Ecclesiastes. The wisest, wealthiest, most interesting man who ever lived – besides Jesus – already tried almost everything imaginable and wrote about his conclusions. His primarily conclusion: life is a VAPOR. What I would add at 33: don’t resist that idea. You simply cannot change it or fight it. So embrace it and do your best to make your days count.
  • A good income and a good budget is better than a great income and a poor budget. You may disagree now, but someday you will also agree that your budget – far more than your net income – determines your success financially. (And you absolutely have to get on the same page as your spouse)
  • What you eat/drink is important. If you feel tired/sleepy/grumpy/unmotivated a lot of the time, it might be related to those donuts you had at breakfast. Or that glass of wine. Or that caffeine addiction. All things in moderation. And moderation definitely does not mean every single day.
  • Sleep is important. If God didn’t want you to get a good night’s sleep every night, He wouldn’t have designed you to need it. But He did. And new studies show that people who sleep more get more done. So there’s really no excuse.
  • Life is ultimately defined by relationships. Relationships trump money, prestige, accomplishments and reputation. Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.
  • You “need a drink” more often when there is alcohol in the house. Make sure there isn’t sometimes.
  • Tip generously. Every time.
  • Make time for one or two things that are good for your soul. Even if it feels a little selfish.
  • Make time for your spouse to make time for one or two things that are good for her soul. Even if it’s impractical or expensive.
  • “Learn from everyone. Follow noone.” This is the common advice from Dean Kernazes. It’s a good thought. (Except Jesus, of course)
  • Get up at least an hour before you need to. An hour of peace and quiet to ease into your day is 100 times more valuable than an extra hour of vegging to the TV at night. Starting your day in a hurry puts you in that state of mind all day and eats into your sense of intentionality and your overall peace and joy.

And part 2 coming later this week…