Students: What is your vocation? Have you made a career choice? Would you consider it your calling? If you are like the typical college student, your answer to that question likely is not a very confident one.
It is not unusual to consider the college years as a quest to find one’s role in life. There are many questions that must be answered during that time. Should I major in Business? Biology? History? Am I meant to teach? Research? Run a business? The choices are endless and the decisions are intimidating. Even once a decision is made, the uncertainty may never quite go away. Students might settle on a major or a discipline, but what will they do with it? One way or another, the college student is faced with difficult decisions, with the future seemingly hanging in the balance.
Even if you find yourself in this situation—surrounded by the uncertainty of college, waiting to find your way to your true calling—put aside the tough questions about the future for a just a moment. Forget about whether you should drop your organic chemistry class or pick up another Spanish class. Stop worrying about whether you want to go with a marketing or finance concentration. Just ignore, for a moment, that you’re really not sure why you’re taking that one (terrible) class. The time to answer these questions will come, but there is a more pressing issue at hand.
Let’s look at the vocation of the student in a broad sense of the word. Do college students have a vocation, or a calling, even in the limbo of the college years? In some ways, not really—yet. But even at this very moment, in the midst of all the uncertainty of course withdrawals, major changes, and career-altering decisions, the answer is absolutely yes.
In the academic sphere of life, students are called to use their talents to the best of their abilities. “Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.” (Col. 3:23). Do your work well. Prepare for your classes (Make sure you go to class!). Try to do more than just good enough. Do it heartily, as to the Lord!
This is easier said than done. I’ll be the first to admit it. After meeting on the first day of class and taking a quick look at the syllabus, the temptation is to see just how many classes and assignments you can skip without drastically affecting your grade. But that is the attitude of men-pleasers. As children of God, we ought to try to live up to a higher standard—even higher than the course requirements on the syllabus – the standard of the Lord.
Another important aspect of taking the college life seriously is developing the skills required to learn. Learn how to read. To listen. To take notes. To study. To persuade. To critique. These are life-long skills that every Christian should develop throughout life and will undoubtedly use throughout life. The years you spend going to school—high school, college, or beyond—are great opportunities to develop those skills.
The vocation of a college student relates to life in the church. Even though students are in some ways waiting to enter the “real world,” believing students are never waiting to be a part of the body of Christ. Each student has a role, a calling both in the church universal and in your local congregation. Despite the uncertainty of the college years, a child of God does not enter a state of limbo in the life of the church. The gifts of the student, both now and later, are a valuable part of the body of Christ.
There are other reasons to take part in the life of your church. Not only do you have gifts that can be used for the benefit of the body, but other members of the church will have their own gifts and talents to help you. To withhold yourself from the life of the church is to forfeit the benefits that others may have to offer to you as a student. Attend Bible studies and discussion groups – see what you can learn about God and about life. Have conversations with other members of your congregation (especially the older ones). You’d be surprised at the wisdom and guidance that they will be able to offer you at this point in your life.
Though in many ways the college years are a search for a vocational identity, there is one identity that is always sure for the believe—his identity in Christ as a child of God. “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God” (1 John 3:1). Our calling as children of God is a daily, life-long calling to live a life of thankfulness. It does not begin with graduation or your first real job; the calling to serve our God is always with us. No matter what it is you might be doing in this life, and whatever answers you find to all those mind-numbing, future-determining college decisions, don’t ever neglect that most important calling—the calling to serve the Lord.