At the beginning of a new calendar year, it’s common for us to reflect on where we’re going and what we want to accomplish. Here’s a re-run of a frequently asked question from freshmen and other students.

Q: How do I know what God wants me to do with my life? How do I tell my parents that I don’t want to study what they think I should?

A: These two questions are often related. The desire for divine direction arises in the collision between what we think we should be doing and what others think, or in that discovery that what others have told us to do isn’t really working for us. When we figure out that our parents’ guidance isn’t always all-knowing, a higher authority who can at once direct us onto the definitive path (and the same time trump the opinions of others) seems really attractive.

It’s true that throughout the salvation story, God has called specific people to specific tasks. Moses, Mary and Paul are just a few examples. God has certainly called you. God calls you through the righteousness of Christ into a life of righteousness. God’s will for your life is Jesus and we take hold of that will in baptism. Then, because you are in relationship with God, God calls you to a life of service in the world. But what shape that service takes is yours to choose as you think through your interests and abilities against the backdrop of the needs and opportunities around you. God placed our first parents in the garden and said to them, “choose of the fruit of any of the trees…”

Now shortly after humanity’s fall into sin, God warns us that though we might pour our lives into our work, that work will also bring suffering and won’t be all satisfying. This is a helpful reality check as we think about our dream job.

But what are we to do if our choosing is in conflict with what others think? Here, the task is often that of open honest discussion. Tell your parents what you’re thinking. Share the info you gain from other advisers. Listen patiently to them and seek to really understand their perspective, and the values that lie it. In most cases, our parents want what’s best for us. Frequently success in conversation can be found in helping them to see what we are proposing hews to their same values.

May God bless your conversations.

+Pr Jim

Jan. 29, 2020

Want to talk further? 

University Pastor James Wetzstein and Deaconess Kristin Lewis take turns writing weekly reflections. You can contact Deaconess Kristin here and Pastor Jim here