Life Lessons – Part 1

Last month I turned 35. I realize this doesn’t make me old, unless you’re reading this and I am your dad. I also realize this doesn’t make me young, unless you’re reading this and I’m your grandson.

I’m old enough to know that I don’t know everything, but I’m young enough to believe that I have some things I can contribute.

I don’t live with regrets. I really don’t. I believe that I can learn from even the mistakes I have made. I also refuse to spend a lot of emotional and mental time on things that I can’t change.

But, for better or worse, in no particular order here are 35 observations from 35 years on the earth.

  1. I wish I would have tried harder in school. While I’ve still never used Geometry as an adult, there were things I could have learned with a little more effort that would be beneficial now.
  2. I shouldn’t have tried to grow up so fast. I am an oldest child in my family, and with that came a certain push/pull toward acting older. So I always wanted to sit at the grown-up table. I missed out on some great experiences because I didn’t fully enjoy being a kid for as long as I could.
  3. I should have focused more on my friends, and less on girlfriends. This is not to speak negatively of anyone I ever dated. But I spent a lot of time and emotion on relationships that ultimately didn’t materialize into marriage. This time was then forfeited from friendships that have continued to this day, but missed out on experiences and time because I was elsewhere.
  4. A healthy marriage doesn’t just happen. I am so thankful for the marriage that Corrie and I have. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty darn close. We work at it though. We find ways to spoil one another. We buy each other gifts, even when they are inexpensive. We talk AND LISTEN to one another. We prioritize time together. We want to be faithfully married to one another for at least 75 years. While physical health will play a role in that, we are committed to the health and vitality of our marriage.
  5. I’m thankful for a Godly heritage. I don’t say this bragging, because I realize not everyone has this, but I’m thankful that both sides of my family tree are filled with God-fearing men and women who committed their lives to serving God and the local church.
  6. My parents did an amazing job raising me and my brother. As a parent myself, I realize they weren’t perfect, but looking back it’s hard for me to remember things they got wrong in the process. That might be the highest compliment I can pay them.
  7. Cancer sucks! My mom passed away in 2011 after a 2 year battle with Colon Cancer. She was 48 (she was young I know. Married at 16, had me at 19, had Jason at 21). I literally miss her every day. I still pick up the phone (both literally and figuratively) to call and tell her something before remembering. Cancer just sucks!
  8. Everyone needs a few reeeeaaalllly good friends. I’m an extrovert so I can talk to a brick wall for 10 minutes or so until someone else shows up. But I’m convinced even introverts benefit from enriching relationships. I’m not just talking about someone to do something with. I’m talking about the kind of people who love you deeply and are loved deeply by you.
  9. Authenticity is rare and priceless. When you find someone who is comfortable in their own skin, flaws and all, it is like breathing fresh air for the first time in a long time. I strive for this.
  10. Stretching is important. When I was a kid I would just start running, or throwing, or whatever. The older I get I need to wake the muscles up before I use them. They’ve told me they appreciate that.
  11. I value emotional stability. In the last 12 months I have come to realize that the number one personality trait I admire most is emotional stability. It’s hard to truly trust someone who shows signs of extreme emotional instability.
  12. Talent is Overrated. I’m a big sports fan, and there are definitely once in a generation types of players. But for the most part, teams can replace virtually anyone with someone younger or cheaper or… You get the point. Don’t focus on your talent more than you focus on these next two.
  13. Character takes a long time to develop. I believe you will spend a lifetime developing your character. The fruit will show itself all along the way, but you never arrive. You have to constantly evaluate your heart and allow the Lord to keep purging the things out of you that don’t reflect Him.
  14. Leadership is about influence. You can read all the leadership books and blogs you want to, but if you aren’t influencing other people you are not leading.
  15. I lose and gain weight like Oprah Winfrey. I have great intentions and every few months I eat better or exercise more. However, to this point, I have never had a sustainable diet and exercise lifestyle.
  16. Consistent Bible reading and prayer pays dividends. I used to be so legalistic with this. I felt guilty if I missed a day of my reading plan or didn’t spend the set amount of time in prayer every day. Now I have a much more grace-filled approach because I’ve finally seen the benefits. Don’t get my wrong, I try to spend time every day in God’s Word and in prayer. But if I miss a day or get interrupted that’s okay. It’s about the immediate fruit in my life and the cumulative results in my heart and character.
  17. It’s often easier to forgive others than it is to forgive ourselves. I tend to let others off the hook for the things they have done. Me? Not so much. I’m pretty hard on myself for past mistakes. That’s unfortunate because nobody else in my life judges me as harshly as I judge myself.
  18. Flexibility is underrated. I realized recently that I value flexibility in people as much as almost anything. We are going to plan. We are going to be prepared. But our ability to adapt on the fly is one of the greatest identifiers of strong leaders.

That’s a little over half, so I’ll stop there for now. I’ll share the rest of the list in another post.

What would you add?

UPDATE: You can read the 2nd half of my list by clicking HERE.

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Jeremy Isaacs

Campus Pastor at Canton Church
Jeremy is husband to Corrie, father to Cooper, Branson, Tucker and Kinley, and Campus Pastor in Canton, GA. He enjoys reading, writing, speaking, coaching Pastors and leaders, playing golf and watching Netflix with Corrie after the kids go to bed.

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