In one of my first classes this semester, my professor said, “I want you to close your eyes and visualize yourself walking across that podium, shaking the hand of *insert college/grad school President’s name here* and receiving your diploma. Who do you need to be when that day comes?”
I wish someone had said that to me three and a half years ago when I was a scared little freshman in college. Or, even years before that when I walked into my high school for the first time. By constantly being asked, “What do you want to do when you grow up/graduate?” an amazing amount of anxiety and expectation is piled on our shoulders. Instead, if we are asked, “Who do you want to be?” we will be reminded of the true goal of life – to become the person we are created to be. Life is about being, not doing (contrary to our society’s belief…).
This involves the idea of vocation vs. career. This is one of the passions of my heart – that people would discover their vocation, and therefore be able to do any career or any activity in a way that glorifies God and brings JOY to their heart.
What are you going to do when you graduate? I hate that question. I’m willing to bet 95% of graduating seniors do too. Coming from a Christian perspective, also, I believe that is the wrong question to be asking.
God doesn’t ask us to do, He wants us to be.
Instead of stressing seniors (and all students, really) out about what career they want to go into or what jobs they are looking at, I believe we all need to back it up and ask the more foundational question. Who do you want to be?
It is this beautiful idea of vocation. This term is so misunderstood, I think. Some people think it is a synonym for career. Some think it only applies to religious careers. My personal understanding of this idea is becoming the person that God designed you to be. Vocation is knowing yourself well enough so that you can better love God. It is discerning the heart and passion that God has given you, so that you can then go on to become the person He created you to be no matter what career you end up in.
I think if we focused more on helping students find their vocation rather than deciding on a career path, we would eliminate the “senior freak out” and all become more self-aware and God-honoring individuals. We would be able to live out the calling that God has given each of us.
In one of my other classes, we talked about the idea of discernment. We make so many decisions in our lives every day, but rarely do we discern what the Lord’s will is for any of those situations. Discernment is an incredibly difficult and complicated thing that requires a ton of patience and trust, but my professor did make one point that is a great way to start. She said that every time we try to discern something, we can ask, “Is this leading me to God? Or leading me away from Him and more to myself?” This is a fairly simple way to judge if we are making a good choice or not. Only you and God know your intentions and motivations. So, are you taking a job because God will be glorified by your passion and talent being well-used? Or because it pays well and you will get recognition?
This is my encouragement to all of you, especially my sweet friends about to graduate. If you know me well, you know I was an emotional wreck in my last semester of college. Because I was so concerned with where I was going, what I was going to do…rather than who I was going to become. The basic truth is, no matter where you go and what you do, God is working in and through you. As long as you are listening for His voice and following His guidance, you can’t make a wrong decision. It isn’t as if God can only go with you if you choose door 3 and not door 1 or 2. Don’t you believe God is bigger than that?
Think more about the person you want to become, rather than the career you want to do. When you are becoming the you God designed – calling and careers will fall into place. Vocation is where we need to start, and I think it is where we need to stay. Knowing yourself for who God wants you to be is the only way to live a fulfilled and God-honoring life. And there is so much peace when we accept the fact that God doesn’t hand us a map, instead He goes with us, before and behind us.
Seek JOY, friends.