Academics & Vocation

You can’T Do It All


You can’t do it all. Right?!

If you’re reading this, than you’ve probably already figured this out for yourself — to some degree — because the majority of you (my faithful readers) work with college students and have gone through the process of vocational discernment in order to end up doing what you’re doing right now.

But this is not the case for the vast majority of students we serve.

They don’t know they can’t do it all.

In fact, most of them believe that they CAN do ANYTHING they want.

Tim Elmore believes that this is one of the biggest lies we’ve told this generation of young people:

The reason that adults, especially parents, tell kids the lie of “you can do anything you want to” is that they want their kids to think big. They don’t want them to be ruled by fear. But telling them they can do anything is simply setting them up for later discouragement — because the truth is, they can’t do anything they want. None of us can. We all have strengths and weaknesses, true potential and true limitations. (Generation iY, pp. 113-14)

Our students have heard this lie, and likely had “failures” or struggles explained away, for 18+ years before coming to campus.

They firmly believe that “the sky’s the limit” for them. Which makes life incredibly exciting — pregnant with potential — on one hand, and utterly debilitating — as decisions pile up a mile high — on the other hand.

Jon Acuff was recently on campus to talk with our students about the exploration of vocation and made this great observation:

Instead of thinking of our vocation as something to be discovered, we should think about it more in terms of something that needs to be recovered — from within.

Too often we go about searching for our “calling” much like we do exploring the stars in the sky. We go out into the dark of night, and peruse the vast expanse that we see, believing that we could discover what we’re looking for — in any of the countless stars.

And we’re both amazed and overwhelmed by the size of it all. We’re excited about what could be, but afraid to make any decisions for fear of limiting ourselves and/or making the wrong choice.

What if it’s much more simple though.

What if it’s more about uncovering, or recovering something that has always been there — deep within.

What if uncovering our calling is really about finding our way back to those experiences that have brought us the most joy in life? What if it’s about re-discovering those things that we are naturally good at and passionate about?

Which brings me back to the lie that so many of our students believe — that they can be anything, or do it all.

Someone has to expose this lie for what it really is. Someone has to help students recognize that they can’T do it all. They just can’t.

And I think we are uniquely and strategically positioned to be the bearers of truth in this scenario.

It’s not about crushing students’ dreams, but about helping them better realize what it is that God has created them for.

I truly believe that the formative college years can be something much different — for many of our students — if they can get beyond this lie.

But if we don’t debunk the lie now, many of our students will go on to earn degrees that they will never use. They will amass a great deal of debt while being prepared for work that they will not find fulfillment in. They will have traded in their calling for a career, and consequently their sense of fulfillment for something much less.

What do you think?

How many of your students are living this lie?

How might exposing this lie radically change the life trajectory of your students?

What do you find most challenging about being a truth-teller in this way?