It only takes a few likes and shares for a word to become a brand-new hashtag, accompanied by memes, T-shirts, and paraphernalia. I noticed this with the word “adulting.”
“Adulting”—a verb form of “adult”—typically refers to a person (usually a millennial) doing an action (often mundane) that an adult would do. For instance, someone might say, “Paid my bills on time; I’ve done my adulting for the day.” This is my generation’s way of acknowledging, and sometimes making fun of, our entry into adulthood.
“Adulting” jokes expose the pulse of my generation. While most of the comments are of course in jest, at the sentiment’s heart seems to be a sluggishness to grow up, to take responsibility, and to do things we don’t want to do.
God’s Word directs Christians to a higher calling. Here are four biblical pursuits that speak to our generational fear of adulting.
1. Pursue Self-Control
When adulting is a choice, you can put it on or take it off at will. When I feel like paying my bills, I’ll pay them. When I feel like getting a steady job, I’ll start applying.
It’s all too easy to lack motivation in our everyday lives, leading us to neglect tasks that are important but not urgent. But the biblical virtue of self-control summons us to greater responsibility. Self-control isn’t just abstaining from bad thoughts or actions, but also pursuing what is good—even if it’s hard or not exhilarating.
The Bible frequently exhorts us to practice self-control in our words and in our works (Prov. 16:32; 18:21; 2 Pet. 1:5–9). The two offices in the local church—elder and deacon—require self-control (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:8). All of us are to be fervent in spirit, not lacking zeal (Rom. 12:11).
Unlike optional adulting, self-control calls us to be faithful in the tasks of life we may not want to do, but are still responsible to perform.
2. Pursue Hard Work
In Genesis 2:15, the Lord places Adam in the garden to “work it and keep it.” Adam is to tend and care for his home. For all of us, work is a daily task.
Even though work has been cursed, it’s not a curse.
Of course, sin’s curse spoiled everything, including the ground, rendering work toilsome (Gen. 3:17–19; Ecc. 2:17). Because of the fall, our work is now often frustrating. But even though work has been cursed, it’s not a curse. Work existed before the fall, and it will be fully redeemed at Christ’s return.
While often burdensome, work is from God’s hand and ought to be done for God’s glory (Ecc. 2:24; 3:12; 3:22; 5:18–20). As we remember this purpose, we mustn’t assume we can hastily microwave our work, coasting by in sluggish apathy. As we labor in a fallen world, we are to do so with zeal and motivation (Prov. 19:24), with care in small tasks (Prov. 24:30–34), with humility (Prov. 26:16), with diligence (Prov. 13:4; Gal 6:9), and with vigilance (Eph. 5:15–16).
So let’s not despise our normal, everyday responsibilities—those unglamorous tasks we think of as “adulting.” Though we may desire to do great things for the Lord, it’s easy to forget that the greatest work has already been finished for us at the cross, and that God wants to be faithful where he’s intentionally placed us.
The greatest work has already been finished for us at the cross.
Each day, no matter how mundane, is an opportunity to experience the Lord’s renewed mercies (Lam. 3:22).
3. Pursue Discipleship
Discipleship involves sharing our lives with one another. As Paul tells the believers in Thessalonica, “We were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves” (1 Thess. 2:8).
I recently picked up The New York Times bestseller Adulting: How to Become a Grown-Up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps, written by 28-year-old Kelly Williams Brown. Some of the steps to becoming a grown-up include: buying bulk toilet paper, doing weekly cleaning, being aware of current events, and not wearing wrinkled clothes.
But the beauty of gospel discipleship is that we have far greater resources than a book of tips to teach us how to live. In the church, those who are younger learn from older saints (and vice versa) how to honor God with our lives. God has given us a precious resource for adulting: gospel community shaped by his Word.
4. Pursue Wisdom
In a society that fights against the inevitability of aging, the Bible champions wisdom that comes from years of faithfulness to God.
When I talk to godly older saints, their words drip with the wisdom and understanding that only come from decades of walking with the living God (Job 12:12; Prov. 16:31). And while their bodies waste away, their inner self is clearly being renewed each day (2 Cor. 4:16). This is wisdom worth pursuing.
In God’s kindness, he gives both his Word and also the fellowship of his saints equip us to “adult” well. Even on days when we feel we just can’t.
May we heed the warning to not be content with childish ways, and may we seek the wisdom that allows us to discern good from evil, and what’s good from what’s best (Heb. 5:11–14).