Something Happens to a Man When He Turns 30

Something happens to a man when he turns 30. Or at least something’s happening to me.

This Sunday, September 14th, I turn 30. I’ve been thinking about this date for months.


30 sounds significant. When you say it, “30” sounds a lot different than “29.” And when you write it, “30” looks different–larger, more established, than the slim “29.” There’s a gravity to 30 that you don’t have with 27, 28, or 29.

There’s something about 30. At least for men. And not just this man. I’ve talked with several guy friends who’ve recently turned 30 and they all report the 30 threshold was a significant landmark for them. Based on these conversations and based on what I’ve been going through these last few months, my original theory was that 30 is the new 40–30 is the new “mid-life crisis” for men.

But then I talked with my dad who turned 30 nearly 30 years ago and he also reported that something happened to him as he approached 30. He told me that something about turning 30 forced him towards deep reflection, reformation even–a time of reflecting deeply on the man he had become and the man he still wanted to become… and then taking action accordingly.

This explains what’s been happening to me. Approaching 30 has driven me to:

  • Reflect deeply on the man I’ve become
  • Reflect deeply on the man I want to become, the man God calls me to become
  • Take fresh action, by God’s grace, to become a better man

In a recent conversation my former pastor (a man in his fifties who also attests to the significance of the thirty threshold) told me that this season is a good time for me to say to myself:

“Hey, I’m 30 and I have most of my life/ministry ahead of me…What then shall I do and become?”

What then shall I do and become?

That’s what I’m still sorting out. Sorting out this question has led me to additional questions, questions I’ve been asking myself and asking those who I’m in community with to help me answer as I approach my 30th birthday in six days:

  • How has God’s grace been at work in my life these first 30 years? What’s the story of my first 30 years of life? How has God worked on me, in me, and through me?
  • How has God gifted me? How has God “wired” me? As I enter the next 30 years of my life how can I maximize how God has created and gifted me for his glory? What does it look like for me to not bury my “talents,” but use and multiply them?
  • Where do I need to repent?
  • What bad habits need to die?
  • What new habits need to form?
  • In what ways have I operated out of fear rather than faith? Where am I being called to step out in fresh faith?
  • How can I put the gospel on greater display in my life?
  • What do I love to do? What gives me joy? What’s important to me? What can I do to ensure that the urgent/less important doesn’t crowd out the important?
  • What’s the single greatest daily change I could make that would help put to death the idols of control, certainty, and perfectionism that feature so prominently in my life?
  • What’s the single greatest daily change I could make that would increase my enjoyment of God?
  • What’s the single greatest daily change I could make that would express Ephesians 5:25 to my wife?
  • As a corrective to legalism, a corrective to an unhealthy focus on “figuring out” God’s will, and as a tool for discovering and using one’s gifts for God’s glory, Augustine and Luther both urged: “Love God and do as you please.” What do I “please”?

Something happens to a man when he turns 30.

For me, turning 30 comes down to one word: change. I’m turning 30 and I want to change. I’m thankful that by God’s grace I’ve become the man I am today. And I’m thankful that by God’s future grace I’ll become the man I desperately want to become, the man God is calling me to become.

One of the ways I plan to celebrate my 30th this weekend is by running the 15 miles from my front door in San Carlos to the beach in Half Moon Bay.


Because it symbolizes change. It embodies what turning 30 is all about for me.

I’ve never done something like this before.

I’ve never run this far before.

I don’t know if I can make it.

The very idea of this run excites me and scares me.

I have some fat that needs to melt and some muscle that needs to be built that will only come by running into new territory.

I’m turning 30. I want to change. It all begins Sunday night when I start running West.