50-ish Things I’ve Learned in 50 Years

  1. God created everything. The evidence is overwhelming. Magnificent designs require a Magnificent Designer.
  2. The Bible is God’s word…inspired and authoritative. Basic-Instructions-Before-Leaving-Earth. It should be read, studied, and lived. I can’t pick and choose the parts I want to follow. There’s a huge difference in just believing in God and actually doing what He says.
  3. God loved us enough to send His only Son to this earth to die for our sins. Let that sink in a little more every day.
  4. Christ rose again and reigns in heaven. He’s coming back one day to take Christians home.  Instructions on becoming a Christian…joining his team…are clearly laid out in the Bible.
  5. The more you realize how much God loves you, the more you’ll want to follow the Bible. You won’t do that perfectly (not even close), but you’ll want to try to do your best…because God gave his best.
  6. If you miss out on the above 5 things, you’ve missed out on everything. Nothing is more important in life. Eventually, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Figure that out while you’re still alive, and preferably while you’re young.
  7. Choose the right spouse. Someone who has already figured out #1-5. You’ll be spending a lot of time with this person. Make sure she is someone who will help you get to heaven, and do the same for her. If she is cute, funny, and a good cook…that’s icing on the cake.
  8. Stay married. Be in it for the long haul. As much as it depends on you…one life, one wife.
  9. Get/Be good at something. Whether its plumbing, PowerPoint, or playing the violin, be the expert people go to for something. Then keep getting better at it and find new ways to apply that knowledge.
  10. Learn how to drive a stick shift, administer CPR, use TurboTax, and cook a good omelette.
  11. If you wait until age 50 to grow out your beard, don’t be surprised when it comes out looking like Spanish moss.
  12. Have at least one person in your life who will give you honest criticism and tell it like it is.
  13. Try to make a living doing something where the following 3 “circles” intersect: what you’re good at, what you’re passionate about, and where there’s a societal need.
  14. Make people feel important. That starts by realizing that all people are loved and important. All lives matter.
  15. Be a person of unquestionable integrity. If there’s a rumor that you lied or cheated, the people who know you best should be certain it’s not true.
  16. If called to lead, don’t be timid.  Lead like a lion.  The pride will be comforted, encouraged, and inspired by that.
  17. Have a vision for the future—for yourself, your family, your business, your church, etc. Sell your vision every day.
  18. Be cheerful, upbeat, and optimistic. It’s okay to be joyful. In fact, we’re supposed to be.
  19. Take initiative. Don’t stand around waiting for others to act. Be the change agent.
  20. Invest in your kids…family time, youth group activities, etc. You won’t get those years back. Teach your kids to know and love God. Make sure they (and you) are in Sunday school every week. That’s more important than their grades, travel sports teams, scouts, etc.
  21. Appreciate the little things–the Moe’s workers who welcome you when you come in, the parking spot that opens up near the mall, midgets, etc.
  22. It’s okay to support a certain political party/candidate (especially pro-life ones!). But as Christians, keep in mind that our citizenship is in heaven and our leader is Christ. What goes on in your house is far more important than what goes on in the White House.
  23. Concentrate on fixing things. Enough people are already focused on pointing out problems.
  24. People who don’t smoke, drink, or gamble are generally going to end up better off than those who do. Rarely on a deathbed will someone say, “I wish I had smoked/drank/gambled more.”
  25. Give blood regularly.  When they ask where in Honduras you visited, it’s best just to say, “near Tegucigalpa”.
  26. Figure out what pleases your spouse.  A rigorous foot massage and doing the laundry may be appreciated more than flowers.
  27. Take chances, recognizing you won’t always succeed. The most successful people have failed a bunch. You’re more likely to regret the things you didn’t try than the things you tried and failed at.
  28. All things being equal, choose a dog over a cat.
  29. Read Crazy Love by Francis Chan. Then re-read it.
  30. Find a way to take your kids on a mission trip to a third-world country before they graduate. It will change their lives and yours. I’ve heard many young people say that it was on a mission trip where their faith started to become real to them…not just something they inherited from their parents.
  31. Don’t get too cocky about your winning pro/college sports team. You had little to do with it. Fantasy teams that you selected?  Well, that’s a different story.
  32. Dream big dreams. You might just hit on a few of them.
  33. You can learn a lot about life from your children. If you’ve done your job, you might even start looking at them as role models.
  34. Tell your family you love them. Then tell them that over and over again. You never know when it will be the last time you speak to them. Go ahead and do that now…then come back to the blog.
  35. Double-check your hose before opening the valve on your RV black tank.  Trust me on this.
  36. Stick with low-cost term life insurance and diversified no load mutual funds. Don’t mix insurance and investments.
  37. Never give up. Never, ever give up. Others will give up. You stick it out.
  38. Thank the custodial staff at your school/place of business.
  39. Get a will (or trust), Power of Attorney, Medical Power of Attorney, Living Will, and Declaration of Guardian (if you have kids).  Make sure your parents have done the same, and that you know where these documents are located.
  40. Work hard…but also take time to re-charge, take vacations, etc. Sharpen the saw.
  41. Choose your friends carefully and cultivate those friendships. You tend to become like the people you hang with.
  42. Think carefully before getting tattoos. The large skull and crossbones on your forearm may not be quite as cool down the road when applying for a job, holding your grandchild, etc.
  43. Apologize when you mess up. And sometimes even when you don’t.
  44. Open a Roth IRA by age 22 and begin contributing the max amount to it by automatic payroll deduction (about $15/day, or as much as you can). When you hit 72, thank me.
  45. Champion a cause larger than yourself. Open an orphanage. Plant a church. Adopt a child or donate to help someone else trying to adopt. Teach/mentor someone. Don’t have too much of your life be just about you.
  46. Be patriotic. Pick up a meal for a young service member and his/her family. Stand up straight and put your hand over your heart during the playing of the National Anthem. For all of our country’s problems, it’s still our country…and millions of people around the world would give anything to live here.
  47. Don’t be dull and boring at what you do.  Be creative.  Break out from the herd.  Have a compelling story.
  48. Don’t leave visiting the sick, helping the elderly, etc., to the elders/deacons/paid church staff. We should all be involved in those ministries.
  49. The two most important skills, at least in the military: 1) the ability to get along with and relate to other people; and 2) the ability to communicate (talking, writing, briefing) to sell your ideas.  Master these two skills.
  50. Keep dental floss in your car’s driver’s side storage compartment. You’re more likely to use it at red lights than at home.
  51. Focus on your circle of influence (feeding a homeless person) rather than your circle of concern (hunger).
  52. Nowhere does the Bible tell us to be “tolerant” of sin. We should avoid doing things that are wrong and, in a loving way, teach/encourage others who are caught up in sinful lifestyles. Hate (be intolerant of) the sin…but always love and be kind to the sinner. Pretty sure that’s what God does.
  53. Don’t worry when you go over 50 items on a 50-item list.  It’s your list.  It’s your blog.  It’s your birthday.  Say what’s on your mind.
  54. Worrying accomplishes nothing. In fact, it’s counter-productive. Spend that energy working the problem, if there’s something about the problem you can work on.
  55. Back up your home movies to DVD before they get brittle.
  56. “Do everything without complaining or arguing.” (Philippians 2:14).  But what about _________________?  It says “everything”.  No one wants to hear your griping or mine.
  57. Go on a vacation to the Holy Lands…it’ll change the way you understand the Bible. Also, visit Rothenburg, Germany in winter and do the Night watchman Tour while it’s snowing. Walk the ruins of Pompeii and tell your young sons this is what can happen “if you are bad”. Ride camels in Petra, Jordan and pink jeeps in Sedona, Arizona. Just get out and see and do stuff outside of your home state/country.
  58. Don’t over-spend on clothes. Do over-spend on high quality running/hiking shoes.  You’ll be putting a lot of miles on those feet.
  59. Make “Random Acts of Kindness” part of your DNA. Just do stuff for people and don’t tell anyone.
  60. A lot of what happens to you in life won’t make sense at the time.  However, you’ll be amazed at how many times you can look back on things that happened and see how God was connecting dots and bringing about good from the situation.
  61. If you make it to 50 years old, drop to your knees and thank God. Not everyone makes it that far. Then get off your knees and go on a really long hike.

 Big Steve, Age: 50

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