For most of us who work with college students, we’ve long understood this word to describe a sense of calling in one’s life.
We ourselves believe that God has called us to come alongside college students during a very formative season of life — and help them, in large part, to discern their own sense of calling.
But they don’t know that, do they?
Most of the students we encounter have never been exposed to this notion of calling — this idea that God has uniquely designed them with specific gifts, talents, and passions that speak to how God might like to use them in the world.
Sure, depending on the church or family they’ve grown up in they may have begun to uncover (and even explore a little) their gifts, have started to sense certain passions bubbling up within them, and even been challenged to think about how God might want to use them in the world.
But in my experience, even for students who have had some good conversations surrounding one or more of these areas, they’ve often struggled to see how these different pieces fit together once they arrive on campus. I think this has a lot to do with the fact that they’ve not tied these ideas in with the education they are pursuing. I also think that there are very few people who avail themselves to helping students make these important connections.
But then there’s you and me.
And I think we are uniquely positioned to do this very thing.
As mentors to students – all in our own different ways — we have the important task of helping students to hold before themselves their gifts, talents, passions, AND education — while learning to discern what it is God might want to do with their lives.
It’s an unfolding process — for sure. Which is why we need to make sure that the theme of vocation is always on our mind — so that it might often be seasoned into our conversations with students.
They need to learn, or frequently reminded, that their faith in Christ is meant to shape and inform absolutely every facet of their life. And if their gifts, talents, and passions are meant to speak to how God wants to use them to make a difference in the world, then their education should be seen as a critical component of their training and preparation.
When we can help students to make this important connection, they will begin to view their college experience in a different light. Instead of seeing their education as a “must,” a necessary set of “hoops to jump through,” before going out to get a good job, it should better be understood as a chance to be further prepared and equipped (in a wide-variety of ways and areas) for the good work that God is calling them towards.
This is significant.
In fact, it’s so significant that I think aside from sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with those who have never heard it, this might be the most important role we have in the lives of college students. For many, I believe it takes a one-dimensional faith and brings it to life — precisely because it brings color and texture and many more dimensions to their own life.
And if we’re not having these kinds of conversations with our students — on a consistent basis — most will likely fail to make the connection between their academics and vocation. They’ll struggle to see why college, and the degree they’re paying so much to secure, really matter. They’ll keep their faith silo-ed off from their education, their work, and probably most other areas of their life.
And that would be tragic.
Again, this is significant.
SO… How are you consistently weaving questions about vocation into your conversations with students?