Love God, and do what you want. These words come from St. Augustine, and I believe they might be the wisest, truest, and most liberating words I can give as an answer to the question, “How do I know what to do with my life?”
Not long ago I was attending a meeting of our high school youth group, and they were asked to list the top two things that cause them the most stress. Aside from the predictable answer of “homework and grades”, the next thing that caused many of them stress was “relationship with God and the future.” I wondered how this could be. Why do they stress about the future? Why is their relationship with God a source of stress? It didn’t make sense. Hadn’t they heard and didn’t they know that they are saved “by grace through faith, in Christ alone” and not by anything they do or achieve? Then it struck me; in their heads they “knew it”, but in their lives they saw a completely different reality. As Reformed Christians, we are quick to give correct theological answers to any number of questions. We can speak about grace and faith, identity and Kingdom calling, and so forth. However, when it comes to the real world of career and choices, we can easily forget it all. Younger people often feel obliged to chase for the trophies, awards, GPA, and scholarships by which they think they and their futures are defined and determined. Sadly, for many of them, they also feel that this is the means by which to win their parents’ approval.
How do you know what to do with your life? Maybe you don’t know – at least for now – and that’s okay. In the meantime, just live your life with grace and truth wherever God has led you to be. Love God and do what you want, because the heart that loves God will strive for the things that God loves and God wants. The whole world is open for you, because the whole world belongs to God. God loves the auto mechanic, the construction worker, the professor, the engineer, the politician, and the mom and dad who work at home for a family of little ones. Life and service in the Kingdom of God is as wide and all-embracing as we know that Kingdom to be, so don’t stress this one too much.
In the meantime, it never hurts to think deeply about the things you love and don’t love. Do you love academic studies, or are you more interested in being an apprentice to a trade that interests you? How do you feel about children? If they drive you nuts, stay away from a career in elementary education. Do you love writing? Then write. Do you love the outdoor life? If so, what careers might be available in the National Parks service? Does cutting-edge technology catch your interest, or do the writings and artifacts of the past? Pursue what you love.
God has a calling for everyone. It might be a lifelong career in one job, or it may be two, three, or even four “careers” over a lifetime. Love God, and do what you want. Even if you find yourself in the “wrong” career, tomorrow is a new day. It’s a new day to continue discerning God’s leading in your life. Even the disciples of Jesus switched their career choice when they heard the call of Christ. The apostle Paul writes in Colossians 3:17, “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.”