Seventeen. I counted, and that’s the number of vocations that I’ve seriously considered since I was a 17-year-old. One of those was playing basketball semi-professionally; I realized that the NBA might be bit of a long shot, but the European or South American pro leagues weren’t out of the question. I knew I could make it to the Polish professional league with enough hard work and determined effort. Basketball was my passion, and so I wanted to make it my life.
But without any glorious athletic scholarships, I started college with a clearer picture of my future career: I would be a doctor. I thought, “It’s a great profession. I can get paid well and use my skills to heal others … and oh yeah, this could be honoring to God too.” (As you can see, my priorities were pretty screwed up). During my first semester, I had to take a “weed-out” chemistry course. That class was one of the most awful experiences of my life, but it did help me realize that I really didn’t want to be a doctor.
My family often encouraged me to pursue a line of study that would allow me to join the family business. It was a comfort and a blessing that a job with trusted, familiar people awaited me, but I couldn’t find an interest in the work itself. I always thought I should be doing something I enjoyed, so that was out.
As I grew in my faith in college, I learned that the more I gave my decisions up to the Lord, especially my vocation, the more joyful was my life. “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ … But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:31,33 NRSV). I eventually came to the conclusion that I should major in Spanish and minor in math because they were my favorite subjects, and I did much better in those classes than I did in freshman chemistry.
Today, I’m serving as a missionary, teaching math at an international school in a Spanish-speaking country. My “job” is incredibly cool! And for the first time in my life, I have a 100 percent, extremely clear affirmation that the Lord wants me right here for this season of my life, doing exactly this; it’s an awesome feeling.
I never considered being a missionary when I was trying to figure out my vocation. This was the first time in my life that I really asked the Lord what He wanted me to do with the talents and abilities He had given me. It meant asking God in prayer and talking with close friends in Christ about what they thought I should do with this two-year missionary opportunity.
“Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:6-7 NRSV).
Now it’s crunch time again for college seniors to find jobs, and for high school seniors to decide on colleges and majors. I would encourage you to keep the following in mind:
– There are many expectations in our lives that come from our own selves, from society and culture, from family and friends or from other influences.
– The only expectation that truly matters is God’s primary expectation for us to love Him with all of our being (see Matthew 22:37-38).
– Pursuing what you enjoy as a vocation can be pleasing to God. The Lord has likely blessed you with those gifts and talents for a reason.
– God’s promises to take care of us in the Bible aren’t fake! If we are genuinely pursuing Him, He’ll take care of our financial needs no matter if we’re a pro basketball player, pro bench warmer, doctor or missionary.
I want one thing for you when it comes to your vocation: to be where you are most able to serve the Lord, having examined the talents and spiritual gifts that you have been given. You will please the Lord with your work and be satisfied in it.