9 Things I Wish I Knew When I Was 20

By Dr. Chuck Lawless

I’m 55 years old, but I hang out with a lot of young people. Here are some things I wish I’d known when I was their age:

  1. The world doesn’t revolve around me. I thought it did then, but now I know the world is MUCH, MUCH, MUCH bigger than I am.
  2. Decisions I make today will affect the rest of my life. You never think about it at the time, but I still carry regrets over decisions I made 30+ years ago.
  3. If it’s God’s plan, He’ll provide a spouse in His time. I worried too much about getting married when I was in my 20’s, but God knew I needed to grow up a bit before sharing my life with someone else.
  4. My calling is more general than specific. Back then, I thought my calling was only to pastor a church, and I limited my thinking to that role. I’ve learned since then that God can use me in other roles, too.
  5. Popularity and power are fleeting. In those days, I was aiming for something I now know doesn’t last long. Regardless of how popular you think you may be, most of the world still doesn’t know you at all.
  6. Intentionally building a savings account matters. The sooner you start saving, the more compounding interest will help you in the long run.
  7. I need the church. I started pastoring when I was 20 years old, so I needed the church then, too — but I saw it as a job more than the family of God who were to provoke me to godliness and faithful living.
  8. I need to pay attention to the world’s events. I was hardly a global Christian in my 20’s. Now, I think much about the billions of people around the world who don’t know Jesus.
  9. Life is seldom as bad as it seems. In the midst of chaos and problems, we sometimes think the world is about to end. It’s never that drastic, however.

What do you wish you knew when you were 20?


Chuck Lawless is Dean and Vice-President of Graduate Studies and Ministry Centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, NC, where he also serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions. In addition, he is Global Theological Education Consultant for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.

For access to more writing by Dr. Lawless, visit http://chucklawless.com.