rebelling against low expectations

5 Ways to Start Shaping the Adult You Will Become


Sure, today might feel like any other day.

You get up, choose the clothes you’ll wear, and glance in the mirror at the face you’ve seen a zillion times before. But that face won’t be looking back at you forever. Fast forward a few decades and check the mirror again.

Who do you see this time?

What ideas, ambitions, and memories are inside that head with its (yikes!) graying hair? Where have those feet been walking all this time—and where are they headed now? Is your brow creased with bitterness, or do your eyes crinkle with joy?

To a sobering extent, the answers will depend on what you do today, and the today after that, and all the other ordinary-seeming “todays” that will accumulate to sculpt the adult you’ll become. What practical choices can you start making today to set the pattern for who you’ll be tomorrow? Here are five, for starters:

1: Seek wisdom now

Riddle for you: what ‘principle thing’ is biblically linked to riches, honor, happiness and long life, so valuable that if you could choose between it and heaps of gold, you’d land miles ahead by passing up the gold?

You guessed it—wisdom.

Wisdom prevents so much heartache and yields so many rewards that King Solomon even guaranteed, “all the things you may desire cannot compare with [it].” (Proverbs 3:18, NKJV.) Sound impressive? Read Proverbs 2, 3, and 8, and you’ll be even more impressed. Better yet, it’s free. James 1:5 (NIV) says “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault.”

So, pray for wisdom. Devour scripture. Read Proverbs, which conveniently has one chapter for every day of the month. Keep pursuing wisdom every “today,” and just imagine the adult you’ll become!

2: Choose what influences you now.

Part of pursuing wisdom is learning from wise people. The opposite is also true: walk with the unwise and you may find yourself on a path you never planned to travel. As Solomon observed, “whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” (Proverbs 13:20, ESV.) You become who you hang out with. And remember: the media you choose to watch and listen to counts as an influential “companion” to you too.

3: Use your resources wisely now.

From Jesus’s words about giving (Luke 12:33), to Solomon’s warnings about debt (Proverbs 6:1-5), to Paul’s instructions about making the best use of time (Ephesians 5:16), scripture has a lot to say about managing earthly resources.

But you don’t have to wait for adulthood to start managing your God-given resources like time, money and health wisely. In fact, how will you unless you set those habits while you’re young? Money management may even require more self-discipline for teens, who typically have fewer obligations (and therefore, more spare cash) than bill-paying adults. But teens who liberally spend most of this cash often become less financially-satisfied adults. [1]  On the bright side, learning to be a wise steward now—for instance by giving, saving and budgeting—will set patterns to help you avoid unhealthy spending, debt and similar woes as an adult. The same goes for learning how to best manage other God-given resources, like your time and physical health, for his glory.

4: Become a servant now.

Who doesn’t want to look back on their life and know that they helped people, blessed others, and made a difference? But impacting the world out of love for God and for others, rather than out of self-focused love, starts with becoming a servant.

Jesus both commanded and modeled this for us when he undertook the menial—but loving—task of washing his disciples’ feet (John 13:1-17).  And becoming a Christ-like, servant-hearted adult starts now. As studies have confirmed, it is the pro-social teenagers—the ones who volunteer not because they have to, but just because they want to—who become the most pro-social adults. [2]

5: Walk with God now.

How diligently you seek God today forecasts how strong your faith will be tomorrow. Colossians 4:2 (NKJV) says to “continue earnestly in prayer,” and as the National Survey of Youth and Religion found, one of the most important predictors of becoming an adult with vibrant faith is being a consistently-praying teen. [3] Another key predictor, according to the survey, is making faith an important part of everyday teenagehood—in other words, seeking God continuously (Psalm 105:4).

Ultimately then, today is the ideal time to grow in your passion for God! Not only will it set you on a course toward being a strong disciple tomorrow, but it will help you to live the life you were created to live right now.

So get to know God. Make prayer a lifestyle. Pore over scripture with an obedient heart, letting him shape you into the adult he wants you to become.

In the end, when the “todays” turn into decades and you look into the mirror, you will see a reflection of God’s faithfulness—and of the person he created you to be.

[1] Steinberg, L. (2017). The development of responsibility. In Adolescence (11th ed., pp. 187-188). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.
[2] Steinberg, L. (2017). Prosocial reasoning and prosocial behaviour. In Adolescence (11th ed., pp. 253). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.
[3] Smith, C., and Snell, P. (2009). Religious trajectories from the teenage years. In Souls in transition: The religious and spiritual lives of emerging adults (Illustrated ed.), Oxford University Press, New York, NY, pp. 211–256

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About the author

Patricia Engler

is a homeschool grad with a threefold passion for Christian apologetics, outdoor adventure, and Dutch licorice. After finishing her B.Sc., she began backpacking internationally to blog about the challenges and opportunities of being a Christian student at secular universities around the world. If she’s not writing, hiking or building travel gear from dental floss, you’ll probably find her outside tuning a ukulele. You can access her blog, newsletter and devotional ebook at


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  • (Sorry, clicked post) and I came on here and found this! It’s really encouraging and full of advice. Thank you very much!

  • Such a great article Patricia! How strong our trees will be is influenced so much by how they bend when they’re saplings. If we make these habits so engrained in our consciousness that they become subconscious, what power and equipping we would have to serve the Lord, and do hard things! Thank you for this encouragement to start being faithful in the little things now.

By Patricia Engler
rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →