As a high school senior I feel so much pressure in making decisions that might affect my career and life: Do I go to college or not? What programs do I choose?
These are challenging decisions. Which paid occupation should I pursue? If the one I choose requires further education, which school should I attend? How will I balance the need for income with doing what I love to do? How do hopes for marriage and family fit with plans for career and paid work?
For Christians these questions are deeply related to understandings of vocation and God’s callings. Neither the Bible nor the great Reformers Martin Luther and John Calvin address these questions in detail.
But they do set forth some principles that can help you make these important decisions. The first is Christian freedom. In the Bible, God commands or forbids us to do or to not do many things. But there is no command to marry or to remain single, to become a carpenter or a pastor, a plumber or a professor. Whatever we do, we should do it “in the Lord” and “for the Lord” as a grateful response to the marvelous gift of God’s grace. Belonging in body and soul, in life and in death to our faithful Savior, Jesus Christ, is the most important aspect of Christian vocation.
But we still must make important choices.
The second principle is discernment. Perhaps on rare occasions, God tells us what to do in a miraculous way, as God did with Moses, Samuel, Isaiah, and Paul. But for most of us, the pattern of discernment follows the book of Acts. This pattern identifies the needs of a community and the gifts necessary to meet these needs. Which needs of this world burden your mind and heart? Do you have the gifts and opportunities whose development and use can meet those needs?
If so, in prayerful gratitude and hope, take steps to find the particular ways in which your life choices serve Christ by serving the needs of your neighbors. If you lose yourself in service to Christ by serving your neighbors, you will find yourself.