What to Do When the World Is Moving Too Fast and You Start Feeling Stuck.
I turn 30 years old in a month—but I still feel like I’m falling behind sometimes.
In general, getting older doesn’t bother me. I was always tagged a bit “serious” and “mature for my age.” In my early twenties, I remember abstractly believing 30 to be the magic age of being taken seriously. I never thought by 30 I would, from time to time, start getting that dull sense of having lost my cutting edge. (Wait, cutting edge? That’s not right. I meant savage. Was that extra?)
On Christmas weekend, my parents hosted a cookout for a group of people my age. At about 8:55pm, four or five iPhones buzzed with notifications that HQ Trivia was about to start. Within seconds, we were all staring at screens, bouncing to the pre-show music and trading strategies for advancing beyond question four.
My dad, who watched this explosion with fascination, kept repeating, “How do you all know about this? I’ve never even heard of it, and you all know about it.” I’d only been playing for a week, and really just supporting my husband, having never downloaded the app myself. I figured it wouldn’t be worth it. No one will be playing anymore in a month, and I’d just have to delete it then.
Even at 30, I feel that strange, panic-esque fear that the world is moving too fast for me from time to time.
Like when I notice the college girls don’t dress like I do anymore (and I like my style better). Like when someone told me Kendrick Lamar would be the first College Football Playoff National Championship halftime show performer, and I realized I couldn’t name a single one of his songs. It’s petty and fleeting, but it hits my radar.
Can you relate?
Truthfully, my “want-to” is broken a lot of the time. By now, I know myself and my interests very well. I bet you do, too. But as leaders, we are presented with a very real challenge: Knowing ourselves isn’t good enough.
If love ended at loving ourselves, instead of loving our neighbor, we’d have very little reason to care that we have fallen behind.
When we’re motivated by love, on the other hand, we have to prioritize knowing our neighbor. Our neighbor just keeps moving.
So, if you can relate at all, let’s share some ideas. The word “relevant” is probably already irrelevant, but the idea holds true. How do we keep from falling behind when it matters so much?
In 2018, try some of these practical ideas (the first is non-negotiable):
1. Commit to pray for the next generation fervently.
God intimately knows the people that confound us. He’s obviously not concerned that we are trendy, but He sure does want us to love our neighbor well. I believe He can give us insights that nothing else can.
2. Volunteer with middle schoolers.
Yep, middle schoolers. They are all kinds of different from Millennials. If you want to stay ahead of the curve, start learning about how they are getting introduced to the world. If you need more convincing, I wrote about my experience last year.
3. Skip church one Sunday every six months.
Visit whatever part of your city thrives at that time slot. In my city, it’s breweries and brunch spots. Learn what people are valuing above church attendance, and don’t judge them for it. Let it inform your ministry strategy.
4. Watch something that’s trending on Netflix at least once per month.
Ask someone younger than you what they are watching, too, because as I’m sure you are aware, Netflix knows you. It’s going to show you things it thinks you want to see.
5. Follow Instagram on Instagram.
They profile people, other Instagram users, from all walks of life. It’s one of the simplest, yet best, things I do to stay current on cultural trends.
6. Join a new social media platform.
Ask someone younger what apps they are into. Try one out. Learn how people really use it, and why they use it.
7. Listen to the This American Life podcast.
I’ve written about this podcast before, but this it does an amazing job telling stories that reveal cultural mindsets and trends that may not currently be on your radar.
8. Hire some 22-year-olds to your staff team.
And don’t expect them to act 32.
9. Hire college interns every semester and during the summer.
And don’t complain about them the whole time. Learn how to work with them. That’s a good step in the direction of learning how to connect with them.
10. Intentionally spend time with people from a different generation than your own.
Hang out with the generation that is older than you as well as the one younger than you. Listen to what they are passionate about without getting offended. You may learn something.
11. Ask more questions.
The older I get, the more I hear myself spouting off answers. I need to ask more questions. Question-asking is a muscle; practice makes you better at it.
This list will probably be outdated as soon as I hit publish, and commenting on blogs apparently already is. But nonetheless, share what you do—whether you are in your 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s or beyond—to stay in tune with the people you’re trying to reach, either in the comments below or on social media using hashtag #unstuckchurch. We’ll update the list with the strategies you share and tag you.
Don’t lose your passion to learn about other people—It’s the best way to love them.