Last week the Forbes 30 Under 30 list came out. I saw all the tweets, Facebook posts, and LinkedIn statuses. I read through the multiple lists (yes, there are more than one), and I made a mental note of all the young women in media, marketing, communications, and tech. The 25-year-old head of marketing at a rising company. The 28-year-old co-creators of a brilliant email newsletter. The 18-year-old founder of a magazine.
They’ve done so much in their short lives. They made the cut. They’ve been recognized and carved into history.
My heart so badly desires what these under-30s have: acknowledgement, approval, achievement, success, influence. They are making an impact, and the world knows about it. Forbes makes sure you’re aware of it:
“From an initial screening list of more than 15,000 of the best of the best, the 600 women and men featured in the Forbes fifth annual 30 Under 30 are America’s most important young entrepreneurs, creative leaders and brightest stars. Name a business sector, social issue or essential institution, they are taking it on and changing the rules of the game– or creating entirely new playbooks.”
In the past, youth was a handicap to professional success. Getting older meant more resources, more knowledge, more money. No more. Those who grew up in the tech age have way bigger ambitions—perfectly suited to the dynamic, entrepreneurial and impatient digital world they grew up in. If you want to change the world, being under 30 is now an advantage.”
I want to change the world and be one of America’s brightest stars, too.
How can I do that?
How am I going to get there?
I’ve got approximately four years left to make the cut…
The wheels start turning. I begin to get a bit anxious. I look at my own life and feel suddenly inadequate. I need to do more, work harder, make moves!
These movers and shakers have made their names known. I want to make my name known.
Published author. Blogger. Expert Marketer. Social Media Strategist. Influencer.
I want to see my name in lights—on bookstore shelves and computer screens and Instagram follow lists.
And then it hit me: I wasn’t made to make my name known.
I was made to make His name known.
The son of God who was 30 years old when he started his ministry. He was about 33 years old when he died for our sins, saving all of humanity from death if they simply believe.
Jesus wouldn’t have made the 30-Under-30 list.
He also wouldn’t have wanted to. He lived a life of obedience in order to exalt His Father and bring glory to the kingdom.
I let that truth wash over me. I’m ambitious and driven. I like to set goals and achieve them. I bet if you're reading this right now, you can probably relate. As Millennials, we may be a part of the selfie generation, known for self-absorption and binge-watching. But we’re also a generation who's witnessed 9/11 and an economic recession firsthand—we’re deeply optimistic and we work hard, believing we can achieve whatever we conceive. These qualities are not inherently bad. We should work hard and work well. We should have dreams.
Except for me, my heart bends much too quickly toward the ever-elusive “success” and away from Christ. I give a lot of weight (like, a lot) to my perceived recognition in the world. I didn’t see the extent of my ambition and approval-longing until recently. That Forbes list stirred something deep within me and reminded me, Oh wow this is where my struggles with body image and perfectionism are actually rooted. In being known and successful and admired.
But these things that I desire are never going to fully satisfy. There will always be another rung of the ladder to climb, another accolade to achieve, another way to improve. The definition of success will continue to evolve—I know because it already has.
What if I started to make his name known instead?
To acknowledge the names of these 30-Under-30ers, acknowledge my own name and my own goals, and know that ultimately the name Jesus is above them all.
I want to start viewing my life and viewing my dreams in light of what really matters. I’m getting there. I’ve come a long way since college and first moving to New York City. I’ll have to keep admitting to you, dear readers, that my natural inclination is toward my own success and fame. I still want to make an impact with my words. I want to write a best-selling book, give a TED Talk, and speak to young women about my life and my faith. If I’m honest, I still want those things badly. Except they’re not my everything anymore.
I’m learning to release the white-knuckle grip I’ve had on my plans and goals. I’m trying to live in a way that makes Him known. To cultivate humility, meekness, patience, obedience. These aren’t usually the qualities you read in a 30-Under-30 listing. But I think they’re the qualities that lead to something so much better than what the world tells us is worth living for.
In the words of Frances Chan, I don’t want to “stand before a holy God and rob Him of the glory that was rightfully His.”
I’d like to take a step back from my own striving and goal-checking-off. I’d like to practice surrendering a bit more. I’m going to pray for a humble heart and the ability to remember, at the end of the day, it’s not about me at all. Life just isn’t about my success or whether my name sits on a bookshelf. I’m so glad I have sweet friends who remind me of this on a daily basis.
So I hope this blog—whether it has 1 view or 1 million views—is a light for you. But more than that, I hope when you read my posts, you walk away thinking of Him, not of me.