How to Make the Most of Your 20s
Despite what many think, your twenties aren’t that dead space between youth and real life. Life is now, and how you spend these years will shape your future for better or worse.
In 20 Things We’d Tell Our Twentysomething Selves, professors Peter and Kelli Worrall help you spend them well. They look back on the good, bad, and miserable to share the best of what they’ve learned, like why you should:
- Dig deeper than your doubt
- Foster good habits
- Take risks
- Adjust your expectations
- Press into painand more
With warm, brilliant storytelling, the Worralls invite you into their life and home. They share about faith, marriage, drawn-out adoptions, dark nights of the soul, and the God who’s in it all. Wise, humble, caring, fun, they’re the kind of mentors everyone wants but few have. And now they're yours.
20 Things is more than good advice; it’s a book that can change your life. Let the trend of your twenties be sowing wisdom, and who knows what the rest of life will bring?
Includes action steps, discussion questions, and ideas for further reading at the end of each chapter.
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About the Author
KELLI WORRALL teaches writing and public speaking in the Communications Department of Moody Bible Institute. She authored the popular article "20 Things I Wish I Had Known in My Late 20s," published in Relevant Magazine. She and husband, Peter, speak together at marriage, college, and young adult retreats, and Kelli blogs at www.thisoddhouse.org. They are parents of Daryl and Amelia through adoption.
PETER WORRALL teaches Education majors at Moody Bible Institute and is a doctoral student in the Educational Studies program at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He and his wife, Kelli, write and teach together. Peter also does pulpit supply, teaches Sunday school, and leads a small group. Since his twenties Peter has taught elementary school, graduated with a Masters in Teaching, and is a grateful father of Daryl and Amelia.
Read an Excerpt
20 Things We'd Tell Our Twentysomething Selves
By Peter Worrall, Kelli Worrall, Pam Pugh
Moody PublishersCopyright © 2015 Peter Worrall and Kelli Worrall
All rights reserved.
EXAMINE YOUR FOUNDATION CAREFULLY
It's your worldview. Look deeply at what you value and what you believe about God and man and truth and reality. Then make it your own. Because it will affect every decision you make. Because life has a way of picking you up and tossing you around, and you always want to nail the landing.
What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.
— A.W. Tozer
We all have a worldview.
It's what we believe, not necessarily what we profess.
It's the ideas that actually control our lives — often without our realizing it. It's what drives our every thought, every decision, every move we make. It affects how we relate to other people, what we feel, and what we do under pressure. It informs how we spend our money and how we spend our time.
We come by our worldview effortlessly. We were helped in its construction — from the day we were born — by our families, our friends, our teachers, our experiences, our culture, our problems, and our faith.
To see how this happens, let's look at Mike.
Mike was raised in a suburban Christian home. For much of his life, his parents took him to sports every Saturday and to church every Sunday. He paid decent attention in Sunday school and youth group, and by the age of fourteen he thought he had most of the Christian thing figured out. Be nice to people. Read your Bible. And pray. Actually — if he was honest — Mike didn't really see the point to all of that Bible reading and prayer. It bored him. But he was as nice as the next guy.
In school Mike learned how to make sense of the world — through math and science, literature and history. He learned that the human race continues to evolve and progress. He learned that there is no ultimate authority, no single truth that applies to everyone for all time. Rather, he and his peers got to figure out what was true for them.
Mike learned about relationships from movies and music. He learned that men should be strong and assertive, that girls want a man who will make them feel good, and that having a girl by his side would make him feel good too.
Mike learned about happiness from advertising. In order to be happy, he needed the latest game system, the best car, the trendiest clothes, and the most money. And, of course, he needed to have the most fun.
When he arrived at college, Mike stopped attending that suburban church. In fact, Mike stopped attending church much at all. He learned that sleeping in on Sunday mornings helped him recover from Saturday nights.
Mike's college friends came from all over the United States, even from all over the world. These new friends subtly influenced Mike's worldview. Although he had learned at his old suburban church that Muslims and atheists did not believe the truth about Jesus and would spend eternity separated from Him, the real Muslims and atheists he met were much nicer than he had imagined.
So, by his midtwenties, Mike was at a crossroads.
Before the cement of his worldview had even had a chance to cure, it had been placed under considerable pressure — at many points. And Mike was hardly even aware that it was happening.
EIGHT WORLDVIEW QUESTIONS
A few years ago I (Peter) sat down with a group of twenty-somethings, and we developed this set of questions to help people identify their worldview:
1. Is there a supreme force, power, or being? If so, what is it like?
2. Is there a physical world, a spirit world, or neither?
3. Are human beings good, evil, or neither?
4. Is there such a thing as truth?
5. What do you value?
6. Can logic be trusted?
7. What books, people, or media inform your life?
8. What happens when people die?
Our answers to these eight questions will reveal — to a large degree — our worldview: Why we believe and feel and talk and act the way we do.
In answer to these eight questions, many people who grew up in a church (just like Mike) might say something like this ...
"Sure, there's a God." They might acknowledge that He exists. However, they don't act as if He's terribly involved with the world — or with their life. They might pray in a time of undue stress, or even sing a Christian chorus (with arms raised?) if the opportunity presents itself. But God has little to do with their job or schoolwork or habits or hobbies or the way they interact with their family and friends. When people believe in such a distant God, they have to create their own purpose for living. They might decide that they want to live to serve others and make the world a better place. They might decide to focus on what feels good and to live for themselves and maybe their family. Or they may even decide that life is meaningless. They may even succumb to despair.
In answer to question #2, they might hem and haw and say, "I think there's a spirit world." But it doesn't matter much because they live in the here and now and trust their own senses. They are only aware of what they can see, hear, taste, touch, and smell, and they aren't worried about what might be going on behind the scenes.
In question #3, many people who grew up in the church will say, "Of course, I'm good. Most people are." Then, if asked to define "good," they might say, "Nice." "Kind." "Not a jerk." And they would reserve "evil" for terrorists, murderers, human traffickers and such. And even then, they might hesitate to judge. After all, if those people were doing what they believed to be "right" and "true," who are we to pass blame?
Most people find the question about truth to be tricky. Some would say, "There is no such thing" — not realizing that this, in itself, is an assertion of truth. Others would say that truth is complex and unknowable. And if anyone claims to have it figured out, he must be arrogant or ignorant or intolerant or all of the above.
When asked what they value, many people might say, "Family. Friends. Work. Life. Health." Or they might say, "Authenticity. Selflessness. Justice. And peace." They might list all sorts of people and activities and objects and ideas. But the better question might be: Where do we spend our time and money and attention? Because that will reveal our actual values — whether we would name them as such or not. And while the things listed above are good, we also have to ask: When it comes to my life values, is "good" really "good enough"?
Many people also struggle with logic and its role. Historically, logic was central to learning. An hypothesis had to be researched and proven — with valid reasons and compelling evidence. However, our culture's standards today have shifted. Rather than requiring a solid argument, we now trust whoever tells the most heart-rending tale. Narrative trumps thought. Also, we feel obligated to give assent to absolutely everyone — no matter what they believe. To do otherwise — to engage with logic and to think critically — can be considered uncompassionate and cold.
When asked to name the sources that inform their lives, most people today find them too numerous to count. Certainly, family and friends still rank high on the list. However, their voices now compete to be heard over the hundreds of television stations and websites and billboard ads and celebrity promos and musical performances and Internet videos we encounter in a given week. And the indicator of whether or not something is worthwhile and credible is whether or not it went viral.
Finally, in answer to question #8, most people assume that their dead loved ones have gone to heaven and, of course, they themselves are headed there too. They might not use that exact term. But they comfort themselves with phrases like this: "I'll see him again" or "she's in a better place" or "he's looking down on me." And they believe that even people who had no time for Jesus on earth have gone to spend eternity with Him.
Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist Denton gave a fancy name to the worldview we just described. It's "Post-Christian Moralistic Therapeutic Deism," and it's all the rage — in our culture and in many of our churches.
However, it is something less than Christian.
A CHRIST-CENTERED WORLDVIEW
If we were to try to align our worldview with that of Christ, then it might look more like this ...
We might say, Yes, there is a God. He is holy and sovereign and loving and unchanging. And He is intimately involved in every aspect of our lives. We live for His glory. And knowing Him changes absolutely everything.
Yes, there is a spirit world. It is the foundation of the world we can sense, and it permeates it at every point. It transcends the physical world as a giant transcends a ladybug.
Yes, I am evil. At least I was born that way. Now the evil person who came into the world can be crucified with Christ and a new person may live in her stead.
Yes, there is truth. And it is found in God and His Word and His world. And though none of us will ever come to understand it entirely, we will spend our lives seeking it out.
Yes, I value family and friends and other good things. But even more than those, I value God. All other things are a pile of dung compared to the value of knowing Him (Philippians 3:8).
Yes, I value logic. But my own logic pales in comparison to God's. He is all-knowing and perfectly reasonable, though He may not always seem so to us.
Yes, there is a heaven. And there is a hell. Heaven is a relationship with God — a loving God who does not force people to be with Him for eternity. So He has provided a second option. Eternal estrangement. We call that hell.
A FRACTURED FOUNDATION
When I (Kelli) was in my twenties, my worldview had some huge holes.
I believed a lot about God. I had already studied Him for years. And I thought I had Him all figured out. The theology that my church had handed me had hardly been questioned or challenged or truly made my own. God still fit in a nice God-sized box that I had set on the shelf. He was holy (check) and sovereign (check) and on down the list. He was also good, and He wanted good things for me. So if I delighted in Him, if I worked hard enough on His behalf, He would give me the desires of my heart. On demand. As far as I was concerned, that was the deal.
When I was in my twenties, I believed certain things about human nature and about myself. Though I would have told you that people are sinful (evil) and are the grateful recipients of God's good grace, I had a hard time accepting that grace for myself. Secretly, I wanted to believe that 1 was pretty good, and I lived the tiresome life of a perfectionist — trying to perform; trying to live up to some unspoken, but powerfully perceived, expectations; trying to control my world. Grace was not sufficient and failure was not acceptable, so when I did fail — when I didn't get the job, when a mentee pushed me away, when a boy and I broke up — I couldn't forgive myself. Let alone accept forgiveness from God.
I spent most of my time at work and in ministry, with my friends, in seminary studies, and at the gym. I spent my small salary on coffee and clothes and quirky antiques — but also on mission trips and serving the teens from church. Certainly, I did value good things: people, service, education, health, and home. But truthfully, in hindsight, I think I mostly valued what these good things said about me. Their contribution to the identity and image I was seeking to create. And a more thorough inspection of my values may have revealed a preference for activity over intimacy, pleasure over purity, and spiritual ritual — small groups, quiet times, Bible memory — over real life change.
When I (Peter) was in my twenties, I believed that the Bible contained truth. But for me there were other truths as well. I held to a sacred/secular divide though I wasn't even aware of it. I could switch easily between these two worlds: one in which God existed, and one in which He did not. Biblical truth and scientific truth had no overlap in my mind. And though the borderline between the two realms was indistinct, it was there nonetheless. As a result, I led two lives. In my "secular" life, I taught in the public schools, partied with friends, and traveled the world. In my "sacred" life, I believed the truths that remained locked in the pages of Scripture.
When I was in my twenties, I thought I was rational. I enjoyed a rousing debate in the corner coffee shop. However, I was rational like a French movie — dark and intellectual until love was involved. Then when a femme fatale entered the scene, I'd die a dramatic death on the stage of my own passion. I couldn't deny my heart, no matter how corny or melodramatic it seemed.
When I was in my twenties, the Internet had not yet been born, so I was influenced by books and music and movies. I read The Sorrows of Young Werther and watched The English Patient. These two works reinforced the darkness and fatalism surrounding my unrequited love. One was a classic piece of literature, and the other won Best Picture for 1996. So they had to be communicating truth, right? Not necessarily. I found out later that Napoleon banned his troops from reading Werther when too many love-sick soldiers were jumping off bridges rather than charging the enemy. C'est la vie.
Finally, when I was in my twenties, I believed that my destiny was a distant heaven. It may be a matter of some concern for the old and for the sick. But as a young and healthy soul, I was content to live in a vacuum until sometime in the far-off future when I might see Christ face-to-face.
So, the bottom line is this. We all arrive at our twenties with some sort of worldview in place. The forms were long ago built. The concrete has been poured. But the material is still malleable.
Why does this matter?
Because, for the rest of our lives, it is upon this foundation that we build.
It makes sense, then, to do a thorough inspection — sooner rather than later.
It makes sense to allow God to examine your footings. To look for signs of structural failure. To identify the cracks. To drill down to bedrock and make thorough repairs — rather than settling for temporary remedies. In so doing, you will undoubtedly avoid some of the very costly repairs that can otherwise happen down the line.
ACTIONS TO CONSIDER
Ask your family and friends the eight questions from the beginning of this chapter.
Keep a careful log of where you spend your time and money for an entire week. What does this tell you about your values?
Re-watch your favorite movie or listen to your favorite music with the eight questions in mind. Ask: What worldview is being communicated?
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION AND DISCUSSION
How would you answer the eight worldview questions from this chapter?
Are you conscious of choosing a worldview? Or have you drifted into it?
How do you see your worldview reflected in the way you live your life each day?
Have you identified any areas where your worldview is not in harmony with God's design? If so, what are they?
What might be the consequences of continuing down this worldview path?
What might it look like to change how you think and act in this area? What steps might you take to change in this area?
Ask God to reveal any places where He wants to address your worldview.
Excerpted from 20 Things We'd Tell Our Twentysomething Selves by Peter Worrall, Kelli Worrall, Pam Pugh. Copyright © 2015 Peter Worrall and Kelli Worrall. Excerpted by permission of Moody Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
#1 Examine your foundations carefully
#2 Remain Teachable
#3 Dig deeper than your doubt
#4 Choose your community carefully
#5 Feed yourself
#6 Foster good habits
#7 Learn to rest
#8 Be patient
#9 Don't worry
#10 Adjust your expectations
#11 Take risks
#12 Evaluate your emotions
#13 Press into pain
#14 Take sin seriously
#15 Embrace grace
#16 Seek healing
#17 Live loved
#18 Cultivate an eternal perspective
#19 Make God's glory your goal
#20 Finally, prepare to be amazed
What People are Saying About This
Praise for 20 Things We’d Tell Our Twentysomething Selves
20 Things We’d Tell Our Twentysomething Selves is packed full of wisdom that is eye-opening, practical, and inspirational. From the all-important first step—check your worldview—to the final piece of encouragement, prepare to be challenged and equipped! Each chapter is a wonderful mix of relevant research, personal stories, and biblical truth. Peter and Kelli Worrall write with authenticity about their own journey toward discovering and implementing these 20 Things. And they serve as compassionate and engaging mentors for anyone hoping to make the most of this significant decade of life. This is now one of the top books I will recommend for twentysomethings.—Sean McDowell, PhD, professor at Biola University, popular speaker, and the author of more than fifteen books
"I love this book. It's everything I wish I had when I was approaching my twenties and so needed for young adults today.” —Jeff Goins, best-selling author of The Art of Work
Imagine the pressure of writing an endorsement for your college English professor! I am one of the blessed twentysomethings mentioned in this book who was regularly invited out to Peter and Kelli’s home during my college years for tea, respite from the stresses that come along with being a college student, and life advice. The biblical, practical wisdom that the Worralls faithfully and patiently imparted to me over those four foundational years was greatly used by God to alter the course of my life, and that same wisdom is now contained in the pages of this book, for you. So go make yourself a good cup of British tea, and settle in for twenty life-lessons that will aid, assist, sharpen, and steer you in your journey toward becoming a faithful disciple of Jesus. —Lindsay McCaul, singer and songwriter
Peter and Kelli were the featured speakers at our recent college ministry retreat where they taught through the topics now captured in this book. The 20 Things immediately struck a chord with our group of college-age young people. The Worralls speak and write from personal life experience, which makes their insights authentic and relatable. The young adults I work with are hungry to address the very topics covered by 20 Things, and I’m excited to make this book a key recommendation in our ministry. Whether you’re a twentysomething looking to grow or a ministry leader hoping to impact the next generation, Peter and Kelli’s book is a fantastic resource.—Eric Naus, pastor for university students, The Moody Church, Chicago
Kelli and Peter’s experiences are relatable, their advice is grace-filled and gentle, and their thoughtful discussion questions encourage vulnerability and community. I wish I’d known them in my twenties!—Addie Zierman, author of When We Were on Fire: A Memoir of Consuming Faith, Tangled Love, and Starting Over
A beautiful book. Peter and Kelli Worrall write words so meaningful and helpful, you feel as if they wrote the entire thing just for you. It makes me want to go through my twenties all over again, just for the pleasure of doing so with their excellent advice.—Tyler Huckabee, writer and former managing editor of RELEVANTMagazine
I have had the privilege of working with twentysomethings for over a decade as both their professor and their pastor, and I’ve come to realize that being in your twenties today is very different than it was two decades ago. It is also a much more difficult terrain to hike through. In 20 Things Peter and Kelli Worrall provide invaluable and much-needed godly wisdom for young people navigating the transition of emerging adulthood: that state of being no longer children, but not quite adults in a traditional sense. Peter’s and Kelli’s own experiences traversing the twenties ridge trail, along with their combined years of ministry with twentysomethings, gives them a unique empathy for the challenges often misunderstood by church leaders and a vision for a path to flourishing adulthood. - Joel Willits, professor of biblical and theological studies, North Park University, Chicago
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Moody Publishers. All thoughts and opinions are my own.] Although I did not find this book to be perfect, overall I thought this was an excellent book by two people looking back on their early adulthood from the point of view of about ten years or so in the future and giving some thoughtful advice to younger people. Overall, this book comes with the approach of giving thoughtful advice on how those in and just leaving college can live godly lives . Much of this advice hit home for me because it dealt with my own concerns, such as the risks of being known for reading unusual materials , and struggles with anxiety  and the search for mentors . The best praise I can give this book is that while I would have used my own stories instead of the authors that if I had to tell my twenty-something self twenty things, I would include a lot of the things that the authors told, and I know of little better praise I can give to a book like this. Perhaps selfishly, I tend to think highly of those whose thinking process is at least mostly similar to my own. The 250 or so pages of this book are largely filled with the writing of a husband and wife team who are providing the advice. Much of the advice is pretty straightforward, although that makes it no less necessary. Young people, and people in general, are prone to neglecting that which is obviously important–examining our spiritual foundation, remaining teachable, choosing our community carefully, feeding ourselves, fostering good habits, learning to rest, being patient, not worrying, adjusting our expectations, taking the right kind of risks, evaluating our emotions, pressing into pain (rather than running away with it), taking sin seriously, embracing grace, seeking healing, living loved, cultivating an eternal perspective, making God’s glory our goal, and preparing to be amazed, among others. Some of these are likely to be frequent struggles for people long after their twenties are over–the authors freely admit that rest is a problem for them, and speaking for myself there are at least a few of these that I do not do particularly well in. Likely other readers, whether old or young, will feel the same. The authors write in a way that is mostly confessional but they avoid telling at least some painful details even if it is clear that they had a bumpy road to their current offices of honor and respect. Although much of this book is somewhat heavy, the authors do include a humorous note in the afterword about not needing perms, which is a light touch that this book could have used more of. The authors show themselves in one of the chapters to be too enamored with Hellenistic philosophical thinking and too dismissive of the biblical Sabbath, but thankfully these moments of antinomian Hellenistic Christianity are few and far between. For the most part, this is a book of solid advice that is worthy of being taken seriously. As someone with at least a few regrets as to how my twenties turned out, much of which was spent in deep depression after the death of my father, and someone whose thirties are not proving to be a particularly glorious decade either, this book was a bittersweet and somewhat poignant look at time lost to the past, as well as a thoughtful reminder of what needs to be done in the time of my life that remains. Many readers will likely feel not so different from me in that regard.  See, for example: https://e
With wit and wisdom ranging from their own personal stories, Shakespeare, Winnie the Pooh and Scripture, the Worrall's lay out a foundation of faith and purpose for those seeking God's perspective and will for their lives. This book feels like sitting down with Peter & Kelli in their living room over a nice cup of British tea, sharing their wisdom and life lessons. I'm in my 30's, and God has used this book to speak directly into my life in powerful ways. The book is moving, honest, authentic and at times humorous. It has the feeling of discipleship mixed with solid Biblical teaching among the pages. In "20 Things", the Worrall's are beautifully transparent and honest, passing on the ways God has shaped and molded them both together and separately through both blessings and trials. This book is for anyone who is searching for what God has next, their purpose on the journey of faith, or advice on the path to becoming more like Christ. I cannot recommend it enough for anyone who is in a transitional time, seeking to firm up their foundation or get real with their faith. As a side note, I highly recommend the audio book, as hearing the author's personal stories in their own words adds a level of personal connection and reliability.
A Time for Everything Many people reach their twenties and think, "I'm grown-up now, therefore, I should have all the answers." But that thinking will only set one up for disappointment. The husband and wife team of Kelli and Peter Worrall, have written this book to help navigate this time period. It is the advice they wish someone would have told them when they were that age. Even though someone is in their twenties, a lot of learning will still take place, especially about living life as an adult. Mistakes will be made, but that is not a sign of failure. The course of one's life can be set during this time, and then it can be changed again. Life in this decade is a time of mastering relationships, possibly moving, picking a career, or a myriad of other things. It is a time of education, exploring, and change. This book is a tool that might help you maneuver through obstacles in your life. Besides the twenty points of advice the authors give, each chapter ends with actions to mull over, along with some reading or media material to consider. A couple of the topics the authors' include are patience and worry. Kelli tells how hard it was to wait until she was twenty-nine to finally meet the person she would marry. Before she met her future husband, she worried she never would find a spouse. The temptation was strong to push relationships that weren't "right," to become more serious. She also states that some friends gave in to that impulse, and have ended up in unhappy marriages, or even divorce court. The couple shares the ups and downs each of them individually faced in their twenties. They include faith journeys each one traveled through, and questions they had about God. They assure the reader it is alright to ask hard questions about God, He can take it, and there is nothing wrong with wanting answers. Both of them relate hard things that happened in their childhoods, and how that shaped some of the things they did during their twenties. I recommend this 5-star book to people who need help with direction or information in their lives. My best council would be to look to God for direction in life. Even if you doubt His existence, stay open to the wisdom and advice that can be found in the Bible. The authors advise to remain teachable. In that spirit, your parents can also be a rich source of advice. As Mark Twain has been credited with saying: "When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years." The publisher has provided bookreadingtic with a complimentary copy of 20 Things We'd Tell Our Twenty-Something Selves, through Moody Publishing for the purpose of review. I have not been compensated in any other manner. All opinions expressed are my own, and I was not required, or influenced, to give anything but an honest appraisal. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.