30 Thoughts on My Life on My 30th Birthday


Today is my 30th birthday, and as I was running in the rain this morning (getting soaked for the 3rd day in a row… weather can never just be normal here in Indiana… It is mid-May, and I have to wear long pants and shirts to go running because it is 42° and raining), I was listening to my “Country” playlist when the Tim McGraw song “My Next 30 Years” came on. I was already in a reflective mood on the morn of this pivotal day in my life, and this song really got me thinking about not only my life thus far but what I want for the next phase of my life. So I am going to list 30 thoughts here… 15 reflections on how God has blessed my life and taught me important lessons during my first 30 years and 15 things I hope for my next 30 years.

Looking back at the road so far…

  1. I grew up in an amazing home with Godly parents. They have shaped the man I am today.
  2. Every time I have failed or gone through those rough, life-altering experiences, God has been with me, carrying me through to a brighter, better situation. The Caedmon’s Call song “Lead of Love” rings true in my life with the lyrics, “I had to walk the rocks to see the mountain view, but looking back I see the lead of love.”
  3. Things I thought were important when I was 15 did not feel important when I was 20. Most things I thought were important when I was 20 do not feel important anymore at 30. The important constants in my life are and always have been my God and my loving family.
  4. Looking back at people and situations that have influenced my life in tremendous ways, it is remarkable how many times God used people outside of the church to impact my life as a child and a teen. One great example is Kenny, my competitive soccer coach for several years with the Collierville Lobos.
    • I have no idea if he is even a Christian or not, but Kenny gave his time and his money generously; he taught me about hard work ethic, dedication and sharing burdens with my teammates; he taught us how to win with grace and lose with dignity; he gave me one of my very first opportunities to be a leader by making me team captain when I was about 13 years old. As an introvert and one with a laid back personality, I often did well to blend into the crowd and not stand out. While I do not think I did an extraordinary job as a team captain at the time, Kenny’s confidence in me among my peers stuck with me through the years.

  5. The number of people from within the church who have impacted my life are too many to count. One prime example is Joe Godley, who hired me for my very 1st internship after my sophomore year of college. At the time, Joe was the youth minister at Sycamore View Church of Christ in Memphis, TN, and he had been in youth ministry for about 25 years, a longevity that is unheard of in the youth ministry world. It was a year earlier that I felt God calling me to drop all the plans I had for my life and commit my life to ministry, and for the past year I had been a nervous wreck (see last paragraph where I talked about my introversion and my ability to get lost in the crowd) about going into a career field that I thought was dominated by outgoing, loud, extroverted, fun, people-pleasing characters. I was polar opposite of what I thought a minister was supposed to be like, and my nervousness showed when I interviewed for this internship at 19 years old. I really had no business at the time landing an internship with a church of more than 1,200 people and a thriving youth ministry, and when I interviewed at a Dairy Queen halfway between Memphis and Nashville, I was wearing a solid blue button-up shirt. I have always had a tendency to sweat alot, but my armpits were like waterfalls when I went in for this interview. Joe told me months later that when he saw how nervous and sweaty I was at that interview, he knew that I was a young person who would listen, follow his instructions and let him mold me as an aspiring minister. Basically, he thought I would be a good employee because I would be too nervous to not do what he says. Joe took a chance on me that day, and that moment 10 years ago opened a door that has changed the course of my life forever.
  6. While I always loved and respected my parents, I went through a phase in high school where I was angry at the world, unsure of the kind of person I wanted to be, depressed because life was not going the way I expected, etc. For awhile I did not give them the respect that they were due simply for being my parents, but also for being great parents. After I went away to college and went through some other life struggles, I began to appreciate my parents more, I started to understand the true wisdom they possessed. Coming home on breaks and having adult conversations with my parents, sharing my struggles with them and trusting their advice… this forever changed the way I see my parents, and I hope that I never dishonor them again.

  7. For the longest time I was oblivious to the legacy of ministry that existed in my family. I thought it was so random that God would choose me to go into the ministry because I am the first and only vocational minister that I know of in my family’s history. I was in grad school before I really thought about the path that had been laid by my parents and grandparents. My dad taught Adult Sunday school for over 30 years… his dad was a deacon in his church and one of the founders of Briarcrest Christian School, one of the nicest private schools in Tennessee. My grandfather also did prison ministry and taught Sunday school. My mom taught Bible Drill at my church when I was a kid… her dad was an elder at Central Church, a thriving non-denominational church in Memphis for probably 30+ years… her mom was a servant in many different roles and a leader among the women at Central Church. Talk about a family legacy and multi-generational discipleship! Maybe I should not have been so surprised when God called me into the ministry.
  8. How cool is it that I get paid to do what I am most passionate about? On the same note, it is pretty crazy how many different places God has taken me because of the ministry:
    • I have lived and done ministry in Tennessee, Alabama, Indiana and Australia.
    • Also, different mission trips, conferences and youth group trips have taken me to Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Texas, Idaho, Kentucky, Georgia, Arkansas, Florida, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, Washington, Oregon, Montana and probably some other places I am forgetting.

  9. What more could I ask for from a wife? The way Jennifer and I were brought together is pretty incredible, and 3 months later we were engaged. Almost 8 years later, my relationship with her only grows stronger. I had loved and had deep friendships before I met Jennifer, but nothing like the closeness that we share together. When scripture says that the church is the bride of Christ, it is hard to fathom what that means until you have been married. When you have this kind of relationship with someone, you understand John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” I would not hesitate to lay down my life for Jennifer or our children.
  10. Being a father has given me such a profound understanding of the way God looks at all of us. I am truly blessed by my 3 children, and I hope and pray everyday that Jennifer and I can raise them all to be disciples of Jesus and great leaders in the church.
  11. Jennifer and I have experienced the grip that debt can have on your life, and we have experienced the pure joy of becoming debt free (except for the mortgage) this year after a 5 year uphill battle. Debt truly does control your life just like sin can bind you. It took an incredible amount of hard work (and a lot of missed opportunities to do things we would have enjoyed) to become debt free. The great news is that God gives us a way to be free from the chains that sins put on us, and that is through His son Jesus.
  12. I am a happier person, a better husband and father, a more confident person and a better example to those who I teach and lead when I take care of myself and my body. I did competitive soccer and track until I graduated high school, and then I gained 60 lbs in college. Then my senior year of college I worked out like crazy and lost 60 lbs. Over the years I stopped working out again and gained 70 lbs! Last year I felt God tugging on my heart to take better care of myself for multiple reasons, both physical and spiritual, that you can read about in my post “769 Miles From Obese to Healthy“, so I started running again and lost 50 lbs. My life is so much better at a healthy weight, and after fluctuating back and forth between skinny and obese, I have learned that I must be disciplined in my exercise if I want to stay fit! I think it is the same way when it comes to spiritual growth and our relationships with God.
  13. God’s timing never seems to be the same as my timing, and that has always worked out for the better.
  14. The power of prayer is incredible. I have personally been healed of an incurable disease, and I have seen other miraculous healings as well. While the huge, miraculous moments are pretty sweet, I have also seen God answer small prayer after small prayer all throughout my life. Sometimes they are things that might seem small in the grand scheme of things, but the way they were answered leave no doubt in my mind that God heard my prayer.
  15. Life is best lived when lived within the plans God lays out for you. I believe in free will, but when I exercise free will in a way that goes against God’s will, it seems to be a pretty bumpy road. When I do things prayerfully, God leads me down some pretty amazing paths full of beautiful surprises.

My next 30 years will be the best years of my life (and that says a lot because my 1st 30 years were pretty incredible)…

  1. Jesus began His “ministry” at the age of 30 (although I am sure He had been doing some pretty amazing stuff long before that). Needless to say, there is something special about this age that so many people fear. I hope to embrace it and be the kind of man and leader that God intends me to be.
  2. I hope to see all 3 of my children become Christians and passionate followers of Jesus, and I want to be a strong spiritual leader for them right now, 10 years from now and 30 years from now.
  3. Jennifer and I very intentionally had kids young so that we can not only be involved, energetic parents, but also because we want to be active in the lives of our grandchildren. I hope to experience that joy in the next 30 years.
  4. I hope to stay in shape for the next 30 years… run some marathons… maybe even give triathlons a shot. I do not care if my kids are superstar athletes, but I hope to raise them to also enjoy running and exercising.
  5. I hope to write books and be a published author. The older I get, the more closely my gifts and passions resemble the gifts of my Dad. He has taught Sunday School for decades, taught at the high school and college level, and he is an aspiring author in his 60s. He has written a number of novels, and he will be published one of these days. Like my Dad, my best gifts in ministry come as a teacher, and I love to write. One day in the next 30 years when you search for authors named “Davis” on Amazon, we will both come up in the search results!
  6. In the next 30 years, I want to be less busy and more focused on only the things that truly matter.
  7. I want to be a part of a movement, a revival in this country that will raise up this generation and the next to be disciples of Jesus. I believe the church will look radically different from the church I grew up in, but I hope that this means it is a church full of impassioned young people.
  8. I want to keep learning and developing new skills over the next 30 years.
  9. I hope to watch less TV and read more books, and maybe go back and read some of the books I was supposed to read in school.
  10. I hope to be at every possible sports game, school program and anything else that is important to my kids. At the same time, see #6 above… I do not want to raise unnecessarily busy and overburdened kids.
  11. I want to be more self-sacrificial in my next 30 years. I’ve grown a lot, but I still struggle to truly give sacrificially to others, especially those who are not family.
  12. I hope to make disciples who make disciples. I have been learning and growing the last few years as both a disciple of Jesus and a disciple-maker, and I really feel that the most important thing I can do as a minister from this point forward is to disciple others and help them to go out and do the same.
  13. I hope to visit the rest of the states that I have not been to yet. I’ve been to a huge chunk of the country, but I am still lacking the New England region, Hawaii and Alaska.
  14. I hope to do more international mission work, bringing the truth of the Gospel to regions where people have never even heard of Jesus.
  15. In my next 30 years, I hope to do all these things and more with my beautiful wife Jennifer by my side for every part of it. I hope that we can always grow closer together as best friends and spiritual partners.