Posts Tagged ‘career’

yes and no

I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and holding fast to him; for that means life to you and length of days … (from Deuteronomy 30)

Tonight in our campus ministry fellowship we discussed the idea of discernment, but with a twist.

Usually when we’re in a discernment or decision-making process, we ask open-ended questions: “What does God want me to do?”  “What is the Spirit trying to say to me?”  “What should I do?” (or even, “Why aren’t my prayers being answered?”)

Those are great questions, but maybe not always the best questions to be asking.  Sometimes a question can be too big.

So we started with two words, Yes and No.  We talked about how we say “yes” and “no” in the transition from high school student to college student to college graduate.  Along the way we outlined a discernment process that I just had to write about, because I think it’s great (open-source theology!)  By the way, keeping up spiritual disciplines (prayer, Christian fellowship, Scripture reading) is a given at all points in this journey.

Here’s the process we outlined:

1.  Begin with a very general question that you can answer with a yes or a no.  For example, a sixteen-year-old might ask, “Do I want to attend college at some point in the future?”  Those who were present tonight, by virtue of being college students, had answered “yes” to this question even if they hadn’t realized it.

2. Apply filters to this general concept:  filters of time, money, goals, personal values, or any other filter that’s important to you.  One student talked about wanting to join the military at some point in his life, but not wanting the environment of a military college.  So within his overall “Yes” to a college education, he ended up saying no to the military college and yes to the Reserves.

3.  Realize that you might spin in circles for a while, when you are in between steps in the process.  Some students talked about being so excited to attend college, but then spending some time trying out different majors or different groups of friends.  The trying-out phase was a little frustrating, but important for getting to the next step.

4.  Whittle down the number of “yes” answers into something manageable.  The students talked about making choices of how to spend their time while in college, and that fact that they have had to let some things go.

5.  Think about a “yes” within a “no.”  For example, a musically gifted student talked about the decision to say “no” to a degree in music while saying “yes” to music as a hobby and a source of personal enjoyment.

6.  Finally, evaluate your decision in terms of how it affirms life.  To the best of your ability, think of how this decision affirms you as a child of God, with all the gifts God has given you.  Even if your decision may result in some temporary stress, does it ultimately build up the life that God gave you?  To borrow a phrase from John McCall, a missionary in Taiwan, does your decision rest within “the divine yes”?

What do you think?

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nametag revolution

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Your dreams were probably shaped by the world around you and its expectations, but you probably also had some kind of developing value system that influenced your dreams.  Early on, you were dreaming of adventure, or security, or being recognized, or being helpful.

There is an article in the latest edition of the Atlantic Monthly on the rise of women in the workforce.  Some experts say that the current hot fields are more receptive to women’s “nurturing” and “collaborative” nature (I am really leery of making generalizations like that), and some say that women are just getting stuff done more than men.

Regardless, it seems to me, a non-expert observer, that we are in for a revolution led by those wearing name tags.  Many of the hot jobs have varying educational requirements, but across the board they all require a name tag or badge: a hospital ID pinned to your scrubs, dog tags to go with your military uniform, or the white nametag sewn over the breast pocket of your blue coveralls.  Here at ECU, many students are majoring in education and construction management, so we’ll see their names on classroom doors, or see them wearing polos embroidered with the construction firm’s logo.  This article from Yahoo points to an increase in tech jobs, but also reminds us that laborers, technicians, beauticians, and people who fix things will continue to be much in demand.

my name tag for Sunday mornings

When I was in college in the 1990s, many of us students visualized sitting in a cubicle sometime in the future, living out a scenario much like the movie “Office Space.”  Now I work with several students who are looking at two extremes:  going on for extensive professional training in health care or technology, or dropping out of college to learn a trade.

What does this mean for the ideas of vocation and calling, ideas that we toss around a lot in ministry with young people?  Does it mean that some people won’t be able to live out their true vocation, because the “New Economy” calls for something different?  Does it mean that we each need to find our vocation wherever we are, regardless of what our name tags say?  Does it mean we should examine our assumptions about vocation, such as thinking that finding one will make us endlessly happy?  (see this “Faith and Leadership” article from Duke.)

Well, when I was little I wanted to be an artist, astronaut, writer, and pastor.  I don’t think my name tag reflects all that, and I probably won’t get around to all those things.  But I hope I can help people as they prepare to put on their tag for the first time.