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3 Things to do before you’re 30

Several days ago a young man asked me what advice I had for him concerning his life.  My general advice to all young people is pray more, risk more, love more.  But there are three specific things you as a young person need to do while you’re still in your 20’s.  Call it a “Before-…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

Several days ago a young man asked me what advice I had for him concerning his life.  My general advice to all young people is pray more, risk more, love more.  But there are three specific things you as a young person need to do while you’re still in your 20’s.  Call it a “Before-I’m-30 Bucket List.”

1. Spend 2 years overseas

We serve a God who wants to give us a kingdom worldview. He wants us to see the world as he sees it, to have our heart break with the things that break his heart. Most of us will spend 17 years confined by the walls of a classroom and graduate with minds that need more experiential understanding of how the world works. And, we live at a time in history when it has never been easier to travel. We need to go beyond our borders and experience the incredible richness of life.
We Americans are far too narrow as a group and we Christians are far too parochial.  We need to get outside our borders and outside our comfort zones and challenge our limited perspectives.

The Mormons learned this long ago and made two years of mandatory service standard for young people.  I believe this, more than anything else, is the driving force behind the growth of their faith.  We need to learn from them.  Two years of overseas service should be mandatory for young people.  It turns them into international thinkers and switches on their kingdom mindset. 

2. Live in community
You were made for community. We humans are social animals. God designed us to interact and interact with others. That’s why the assembled grouping of his children is called “the body of Christ.” Jesus prayed that his followers would be one. We need to do the same.
Most young people are never given the opportunity to experience the grace and safety of authentic community. Our American social contract was born out of rebellion and emphasized independence. We need to learn the concept of interdependence from scratch. Live in a kibbutz, join an urban community, go on the World Race, but don’t start your family and your career without having experienced the thrill of true body life.
3. Find a Paul and a Timothy

We all need someone who is older and wiser than us to help us
understand the wild world in which we live. Paul was that to many. He
discipled them by taking them with him on is trips. They benefited from
his experience and didn’t have to make all the missteps that Paul made.
We need to find a Paul in our lives. Yesterday a young man I don’t know
called me up and asked to be discipled. Since he was referred by a
friend, after a short interview as I was going through the Atlanta
airport, I said “yes.” If you have never been discipled, you owe it to
And if you have been discipled, then you owe it to
others to pass on what you’ve received. If you’ve been a Timothy, then
find others to pour into. The only qualification to disciple others is
that you be one step ahead of them, able to show them how to avoid a
few of potholes and where to find life and encouragement. It doesn’t
have to be an overwhelming thing. If you’re interested in growing as a
discipler, you may want to read more of the blogs I’ve written on the

Comments (16)

  • Pearls of wisdom… makes me wish I was 30 years younger so I could start working on that list before I was 30…

  • So what do you do when you’re over 30 and nobody will agree to disciple you? Or maybe they oblige, but they never follow through or you hear from them once a month? I’m not talking about a group Bible study. I mean a one on one discipleship relationship.

  • Can I just wind the clock back 20 years and try again?? lol! Good advice you young guys’n’gals – go for it!

  • SUPER advice! My kids are getting the push to do this stuff, for sure. And not so bad for us over 30 people either… esp if you have enough latitude in work and family life to make it happen at some point!

    I have found God putting people in my path right and left to help as soon as He knew it was time … and thank God, there’s a tribe of folks ahead of me to give me guidance too!

    Bobbie: connect on here and you will find someone who I’m sure can help online … but where do you live? Pray and ask the Lord to send someone. He will answer…

  • Seth,

    You are right on, Seth, with all 3 points….in fact I am sending this post to all of my grandchildren…this generation is looking for something not only to live for, but die for as well….they are visionary, challenging, full of energy …I envy the opportunities that are afforded to them to be ‘pushed out’ of their comfort zone….every person needs a mentor and another person to mentor…for women, it is challenge of Titus 2…I remember posting in my journal some 15 years ago the following….”Lord, I embrace the task of teaching younger women, but where are they?” I have sensed realized that I was doing this all along but unaware that God was using me in this manner. Conferences/retreats are great but nothing replaces the “one on one” interaction with another…our lives need to be observed “close up” so that we not only “teach” but “train” by the manner in which we personally live.
    I agree with Carol C but, for me, it is “Can I turn the clock back 50 years?”

  • Thanks for the blog Seth! I always appreciate your advice in regards to these topics! I am figuring out now what this will look like in the years ahead before I’m 30 = ) and realizing how quickly that will come.

    But as for today, I will Pray More, Risk More and Love More…and tomorrow too!

    have a great day!


  • I like this “Before-I’m-30 Bucket List.” Megan- I agree. I’m looking ahead and realizing how fast 30 is going to approach. I’m working towards the living overseas and living in community, but I need to put effort into finding a mentor.

  • Thank you for your post. I am currently 30 and my wife is 29. We are 3 months pregnant. We have preached the gospel of Jesus Christ in churches, in the streets, parks, restaurants, gas stations, drive thru restaurants. We have seen hundreds saved and touched by the Spirit of God. Praise God many lives have been changed. Both of us are called to be missionaries to preached the good news. Your advice is very encouraging! To saved up, relase our faith and step into what God almighty is calling us to do!!!

    Thank you my brother and praise God for all those who seek His Kingdom and Will.

    Be blessed

  • I have lived in community many years …and was discipled in that setting. However, I’ve never been overseas! Perhaps I can put that in my “BEFORE SIXTY bucket”!

  • Hey Bobbie – Click on the “Need Discipleship” button above and they can help make some connections for you… I live in FL, but have a few friends in Indianapolis … I wonder if there’s a way to do it virtually for awhile… blessings to you…

  • Seth,

    I need some unbias advice

    Waiting on God’s timing. Doors are opening for ministry, but I’m just not taking them, because I am cautious in not taking or embarking on something driven by man and not God driven. Its easy to get carry away with every other’s man dreams or purposes and then make them ours, simply because we need a purpose. Any advice on when to take the right doors? How do we determine if is fear holding us back, fear to disobey God vs really waiting on God? If God has already say no! What happens if we still got through these doors for ministry. How do we analyze these doors that are opening before us, they lead us to saving souls, praying for the sick to get healed, casting out demons. My wife and I have seen miracles and the annointing of the Spirit of God, moving and changing peoples lives through our hands. We are in that stage. In that moment, where several ministries are pulling us one way or another. Everytime, it comes to the same thing. One ministry, has awesome evangelistic tools to saved the souls, but lack discipliship and missionary work. Another ministry is reaching thousands of souls, even one minister has filled stadiums, thousands saved, but His ministry does not do evangelistic work, and He made it clear that is not their focus. Should we just wait until we build our own ministry that has all the tools we need? or We should we walked through these doors? I am just seeking someones advice from their own experince? Not someone’s thoughts? Thaks

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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