Because I'm pushing 30. And I'm still not really sure.
I know 30 isn't "old", and it's definitely not the end of the world, but it'd still be really nice to know what exactly it is I'm meant to do.
I just watched "The Giver" for the first time a couple of weeks ago. Decent movie. While there's a ton that could be said about all kinds things presented in that film (and who knows, maybe those will be future posts), one part that stood out to me was this...
As people grow up in their sheltered little culture, the entire population participates in these ceremonies where people move from one point in their life to the next. During childhood, kids are given more responsibility by getting a bike. At high school "graduation" kids move from childhood to young adult/adulthood and are assigned a career.
Assigned a career.
The elders who are running the population know these kids "well" enough to just flat out tell them what they'll be doing for the rest of their lives.
How cool is that?
Because it sounds kind of neat for someone to know you well enough to know exactly what you could do really well for the rest of your life. How great would that be? I would love it if someone would say, "Hey, you are fantastic at (insert skill here), you should do (insert career here)."
It's completely normal for kids to imagine themselves in different jobs and careers throughout childhood and into young adulthood. Do you remember what you wanted to be and do? Here's a little taste of what I thought I wanted to be...
A doctor/pediatrician - until I found out you need to be crazy good at math and science for this. Not so much for me.
Pro basketball player - we're talking WNBA here. A very well-meaning friend in 7th grade tried to encourage me to go for it. My height peaked in 8th grade at a towering 5'4". My basketball skills also peaked in middle school.
A pastor - before you cringe and excommunicate me, I was four. My dad is a pastor and I was just trying to follow in his footsteps. My mom tells me I had some pretty compelling speeches into the end of the vacuum cleaner handle.
Teacher - this one's actually a little more realistic and closer to what I ended up going to school to do. Why didn't I do it? I don't think it's as easy as it looks, but I guess it's not totally out of the question.
Astronaut - this was not my idea, though I do think outer-space is pretty cool, albeit a little freaky. A friend in high school told me he could picture me in the helmet....
Truck driver - yes, seriously. I really enjoy being on the road and the thought of getting to travel and see all kinds of new places always sounded interesting. Now I'm in a position where I have a better idea of what a truck driver actually has to do on a daily basis, and I'm pretty sure that profession isn't for me.
So, maybe someone telling you to do a specific thing isn't always the most helpful or realistic. Oddly enough, I do make semi-frequent trips to "outer space" with my 3-year-old niece from the comfort of a living room, blankets and pillows, and a lot of imagination.
The concept of choosing what to be when you grow up is a daunting one, especially when you're expected to make that life-changing, seemingly permanent decision before you're 18. I remember constantly wondering if I was doing the right thing. My mind was flooded with questions from high school graduation all through college, and even into my first real job - Am I doing the right thing? What if this isn't what God wants me to do? Am I really cut out to do this? What if I fail? If this isn't what I should do, then what is it I actually should be doing?
It can be an endless cycle of doubts and struggles. It can lead to sleepless nights, long days and too many Google searches for those career aptitude tests you thought were pointless in high school that now you think might actually lead you in some sort of direction. Deciding what to do, and for the Christian, what God would have you do, for the rest of your life is incredibly difficult.
And that's why the doctrine of vocation is such a beautiful thing.
Because the truth is, you don't have to have just one thing to do for life. God has given us all a variety of abilities, talents, interests and gifts, and I believe we're to explore them all as best as we can. Maybe some will develop into full blown livelihoods, maybe some will be hobbies; but if God's given you an interest in something you owe it to Him and yourself to check it out. They say the average person changes careers about 7 times in their life. With all the different jobs there are out there it makes some sense. Not to mention God created us as complex human beings who are made to enjoy and do many different things.
The other freeing truth is that God can and will use whatever it is you choose to do, as long as it's done for His glory. The job you're in right now may not be the thing you do forever, but as long as you're there you are serving God. I love how Paul describes this truth in Colossians 3. In this particular section of Scripture Paul is teaching us how to put off the "old self" - the sinful humanness in us, and how to put on the "new self" in its place - the new godly, Spirit-filled us. He's also teaching us a bit about our roles in our households and families. Two verses that have always stood out to me are 17 and 24. Respectively, they are,
"And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him", and,
"Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men."
Those verses have helped me stay focused on who it is I'm truly serving and working for, no matter what I'm doing. In Christ there is an enormous amount of freedom - and the fact that one of those freedoms is the ability to choose and change work is incredibly comforting.
An assigned career? Not bad in theory, as long the one assigning knows you inside and out. And since no one but God can claim that status in our lives, I'm good with the freedom He gives me. God, use me in whatever job I hold to lead others to You and bring You glory.