As thousands of new graduates emerge from their high school or college chrysalis, and their friends and families chant at them “What’s next for you?”, the question certainly resonates: “What should I do with my life?” Even as we move through our daily activities, decades after completing education, many of us still wonder…what should I do with my life?
If you check on Amazon.com, looking for a book to answer your existential dilemma, a couple of titles pop up, the first one by Po Bronson. What Should I Do with My Life? The True Story of People Who Answered the Ultimate Question, begins its first story
Wouldn’t it be so much easier if you got a letter in the mail when you were seventeen, signed by someone who had a direct pipeline to Ultimate Meaning, telling you exactly who you are and what your true destiny is? Then you could carry this letter around in your pocket , and when you got confused or distracted and suddenly melted down, you’d reach for your wallet and grab the letter and read it again and go, “Oh, right.”
Even just a postcard from God would be great, don’t you think? Telling us we’re on the right path, or guiding us when we’ve strayed.
Well, we do have that, in a way. Each person has gifts and abilities, things that come easily to them and that they enjoy. Some people can hear an engine running and know that something is wrong – and how to fix it. Some can taste a dinner and know how it was made – and how to make it better. Some communicate well, some can explain and re-explain to teach an idea. Everyone has something to offer.
Figuring out your gifts and developing them will give you a full life. It may not, at first, surpass your financial dreams. It will give you internal peace and a sound sense of worth. It is, in the end, much more likely to lead you to a life filled with happiness.
A foundational piece is trusting God. Not that you should be impractical or irresponsible, but recognizing that God, and not money, is the basis for your wellbeing. For instance, the best teachers teach from their hearts, from the core of their being, even though they are aware that they could almost certainly be making more money in another job. Teaching is fulfilling in a way that money never can be – and, also true, it is one of the jobs that certifications and money cannot make you good at if it is not your gift.
When we trust God and follow our gifts, interests, and talents, the opportunities will arise. When we can discern between our wants and our needs, we will have enough. Our individual lives and our whole society will resonate joyfully when we live as God proscribes. Jesus said, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”(John 10:10 NRSV).
So, what should you do with your life? What is God calling you to? Take a deep breath, and listen for God. Take a step; you’ll know soon whether it is the right direction. Trust that God is with you, guiding you, that God wants what is best for you. (Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.) Remember, too, what God said to the prophet Micah:
He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8)