Over the past 3 months, I have had the opportunity to sit down across a desk or table with a lot of students to talk about upcoming classes, possible employment and the direction that they see their life taking. This isn’t unusual, it’s my job. What has been unusual is the number of students, even incoming freshmen who bemoan the fact that they don’t know what to do “for the rest of their lives”. For them, this big question mark complicates everything: what classes should I take? Will they help me get a job? Should I even be at college?
When I find myself in one of these conversations, I always get a sly smile on my face and gently lean in to let students know I’m getting ready to share some important pearls of wisdom. I say softly, “I’m 34 years old, and I don’t know what I’m going to do for the rest of my life.” Most students respond to this statement with a look of concern. “What do you mean you don’t know?” This conversation gives me the opportunity to share something that I have come to believe deeply during my time at Trevecca: the time that we spend in college is about more than just getting a job. It is about more than getting a set of skills that we will use to earn money for the rest of our lives. This may sound radical, but the truth is that the time that we spend in college should be about learning about the world that we’re a part of, learning who we are, learning about how to ask good questions, learning about how to be a good conversation partner and learning to listen closely for the still small voice of God that will guide us for the rest of our lives. Yes, we will pick up some skills that will hopefully help us to get a job. Yes, we will learn a lot of knowledge in our major. But if that is all that we have walked away with from our college education, we have missed out on an incredible opportunity.
One of the exciting things about being a Christian is that we never know where God will call us. I graduated from my undergraduate program with a degree in Biology planning to attend medical school. I never imagined that I would be a pastor, a staff member in the Chaplain’s office, or a college professor. But, as God called and opened doors, I began to follow. Things that I learned in my college classes, in conversations with my roommates, with ministry that I did in the community all have been a part of shaping me to answer God’s call on my life. And now, I have the opportunity to challenge my students look at their college education in this way. We are preparing for a lot of things during our time at Trevecca. We are preparing to be citizens of our world who know and care about our neighbors near and far. We are preparing to appreciate good books, beautiful art and masterful music. We are preparing to faithfully and justly manage our money and take care of our world. We are preparing to listen for the call of God and to answer, wherever that takes us.
So you don’t know what you’re going to do for the rest of your life? It’s okay, it’s better that way.