What 30 Somethings Need to Hear

30 somethings talking

I’m beginning a new series that I am calling “What 30 Somethings Need to Hear.”

I turned 36 a little over 3 months ago, and there has been so much that has been unique to the last 6 years of my life that I’m convinced God has something to say to those in their 30s.

In the blog posts in this series, I’ll be addressing myself as well as any of my friends who are in their 30s (If you’re not in your 30s, don’t worry, you can read on as I’m sure there will be things that are applicable to all seasons).

My Current Season of Life

With my wonderful wife of over 14 years beside me and 4 kids ages 10, 7, 5, and 1, the Cooper household is full of life in this season. Most often, with the exceptions of an afternoon rest-time and when the kids are in bed at night, the house is very loud.

Our children have loads of energy, ask lots of questions, and greet each day with multiple requests. They are in an age of discovery where every day holds something new to learn. They are fascinated by lightning bugs and bull frogs and fairy-tale stories. They want to swim, do gymnastics, play baseball, and create works of art with their own hands (“Daddy, look what I can do!” is a common phrase in our household).

I love to watch the way my children are processing life at their age and I marvel at the energy they possess. There is a simplicity and innocence about them that is so refreshing to observe. It has also caused me to reflect on the different stages of my own life and especially my current season. I’m 30 Something. So, what does that mean?

Navigating the Different Phases of Life

If the youngest years are an age of discovery (0-10), it seems to me that the decade following is an age of growth (10-20). The pre-teen and teen years are a season marked by development, change, and maturation.

I think the 20s, on the other hand, could be called an age of conquest (20-30). That season, for me, was certainly a decade of “firsts”. It’s when I graduated from college, married my wife, bought my first home, had my first child (and my 2nd). It’s when I started my career in recruiting, and it’s when I became a pastor. Times with friends in my early 20s were carefree and marked by laughter and joy. There was a lot of excitement and celebrating and the future looked very bright. I remember having high expectations and allowing myself to dream about future possibilities.

Now, I’m midway through my thirties and this season has been very different from any other season I have experienced. There has been tremendous joy in my 30s and many monumental moments of grace. With this joy, if I had to give it a name I would call my 30s an age of responsibility (30-40).

For those of us in this age range, reality has set in that we’re not kids anymore (and we’re not in our 20s). There are more demands at work and more demands at home than ever before. My hair is gradually turning grey, and my body is beginning to show some wear and tear.

I’ve also experienced a number of disappointments and setbacks in this season. Some have been major and some have been minor. Some of the setbacks have been mine to endure and some I have experienced vicariously through the grief and pain I’ve watched my good friends walk through. Many of the trials came as a complete surprise to me, and they have been varied in their nature and scope. I’ve watched a number of friends suffer, and I’ve seen several lose heart.

Most of my friends have at one point or another confessed to me that they are facing weariness. Conversations in this decade have definitely carried a lot more weight. But I believe God has much to say to us in this season. So…what do 30 Somethings need to hear?

Don’t Lose Heart: God is a Redeemer

By now, you’ve made many mistakes. You’re aware of faults and failures. You’ve screwed up at times. People have sinned against you, and you have sinned against others. Some relationships you once cherished are now broken and are a relic of the past. Shattered dreams and disappointments can beckon you to dwell in “the slough of despond” and you can wonder if it was worth it all.

This doesn’t mean that God is far-off. In fact, it’s right in the midst of our broken-ness that God meets us with His grace.

30 Somethings need to hear Psalm 103:

“Bless the LORD, O my soul,

and all that is within me,

bless his holy name!

Bless the LORD, O my soul,

and forget not all his benefits,

who forgives all your iniquity,

who heals all your diseases,

who redeems your life from the pit,

who crows you with steadfast love and mercy” (v. 1-4)

God forgives. God heals. God redeems. God crowns. He does all of this for messed up broken sinners who see and acknowledge their need for him.

In 1630, Richard Sibbes put it this way,

“Let all know that none are fitter for comfort than those that think themselves furthest off… A holy despair in ourselves is the ground of true hope… the God who dwells in the highest heavens dwells likewise in the lowest soul (Isa. 57:15). Christ’s sheep are weak sheep, and lacking in something or other; he therefore applies himself to the necessities of every sheep. He seeks that which was lost, and brings again that which was driven out of the way, and binds up that which was broken, and strengthens the weak (Ezek. 34:16). His tenderest care is over the weakest… He was most familiar and open to troubled souls.” The Bruised Reed, p. 14-15.

If you are in your 30s, like me, I think this is a great time for us to finally be open and honest that we aren’t all perfect. Instead, in the midst of all our weakness and weariness, we can go again to our Perfect Redeemer who both saves and sanctifies us. He will strengthen us and meet us with His grace as we give ourselves to Him.

Click here to read the second post in this series on “What 30 Somethings Need to Hear”

How My View of Success and Failure is Changing


If you’re anything like me, you love to win and you hate to lose. Whether it’s as simple as a board game or as complex as a board meeting, let’s admit it: winning is enjoyable. Losing, on the other hand can be, well… very uncomfortable.

But does success mean that we never fail?

I don’t think so. If that were the case, not many of us would ever learn how to walk, or ride a bike, or jet ski, or play piano, or speak in public, or start a new business, or do just about anything worthwhile.

It’s through the scrapes and the bruises and the bumps and the falls, that we find our strides.

There are certain lessons in our lives that we only learn through failing. Pressing through the pain has a strengthening effect on us. As Romans 5:4 states it, “Perseverance (through difficulties, trials, and failure at times) produces character” (parenthesis mine).

A New View of Failure

This hasn’t always been my view of failure. In fact, I would say that I’ve carried a lot of shame over the failures in my past. But my view of failure and success is changing.

This past year, my wife and I were privileged to be prayed for by a group of men and women from Covenant Fellowship Church out of the Philadelphia area. We knew none of the individuals who were praying for us, and they knew nothing about us. Yet, as they prayed for us, they communicated with such clarity and precision regarding our past and present circumstances that we felt as if they had known every detail of our lives. It was amazing, really.

In the midst of the time of prayer, one of the ladies spoke directly to the failures I had experienced in the past. She shared an impression of seeing me running on a track and trying to jump over hurdles (many of which I hit and fell to my knees). Reminding me of the Apostle Paul’s words in Philippians 3, she encouraged me to put the past behind me and press on toward the goal:

“12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way”

This Scripture has been so encouraging to me this year. I’m beginning to see that an aspect of maturity is the ability to learn from our past mistakes without dwelling on them. I’m working hard to keep my eyes in front of me and continue straining forward to what lies ahead.

I recently ran across a powerful quote from Winston Churchill who said, “Success is stumbling from failure to failure without any loss of enthusiasm.”

What if working through failure is actually a necessary component to our success?

If you feel like a failure today, take heart! Your past and present mistakes could very well be the key to your future success. Don’t give up. Press through the difficulties. Your perseverance is producing the very character you need to succeed.

And most importantly, remember that Jesus Christ lived a perfect life for you.