the dreaded question

“Do you know what you’re doing after college?”

Upon hearing this question, I always shudder inwardly.

First thought: How am I supposed to know what I’m doing after college, I’m still figuring out my plans for the summer!

Second thought: I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know.

Third thought: Do scary questions like these ever end??

(Notice that my brain never jumped to the answer of the original question.)

Just a brief note – I feel like I should recognize that these questions come from privileged places, whether we feel privileged or not. The fact that I am able to choose to attend college and graduate with a degree is an amazing opportunity that not everyone is presented with.

I believe people ask these questions out of curiosity and love. Most often, the questions come from family members or friends. But I feel like this question leads us to thinking, “What can I do? What kind of money will I make? What kind of position can I fill?” Which aren’t terrible questions, right? We don’t want to be living off of ramen noodles forever as we struggle to pay off those student loans. We want an image, a goal to fulfill, one that we can share with others so they will smile and say, that’s great! I’m tempted to say, “YES, I am going to kick down doors and save women and children from the horrors of human trafficking!!” (Friends, let’s be honest. Kirsten is not equipped for that kind of job. But it sounds so gosh darn heroic.)

While these thoughts and dreams are nice, I wonder what our thinking would be like if we were to shift the question’s perspective.

What if we were asked,

“How do you plan to use your gifts and talents to benefit others?”

I feel as if this brings focus onto who God created you to be, rather than the positions you might fill, or the salary you might acquire. The latter is not a stable thing to rely on. Jobs and career paths will change, but God never will. He has made you one of a kind, unique. He is the master potter that has shaped you in the beginning and is constantly molding you into the person that you are becoming.

When we focus more on how God has gifted us, it turns our attention to our Heavenly Father rather than a desperate response to the original question. One of my professors once told us that our primary calling is to a person [Jesus Christ], not an occupation or place. Our secondary calling is to wholeheartedly participate in the mission and ministry of reconciliation.

When we ask the second question, I think the respondent’s answer can give you insight to who they really are and what they truly aspire to do. I hope that people would answer that question confidently knowing who they are in Christ and how their gifts [like, empathy, organization, analyzing, or listening] can be used to further the Kingdom.

Friends, I hope that you seek to be with Christ, for when we do that, all other things fall into place.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10 NIV


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