At Work

Three Questions for College Students Today

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With final exams and graduation right around the corner, college seniors are preparing to enter the most uncertain time in their lives.

Even with fewer options today than pre-recession grads, students don’t want to take the first or highest-paying job that comes their way. They’re thinking differently about how to approach jobs and careers.

An Unofficial Christian Work  Hierarchy

On Thursday night, students gathered for a conversation about faith and work at the ONE2 Conference in Athens, Georgia. Austin Burkhart, founder of ONE2 (and previous Faces of Faith and Work interviewee), presented what he thinks are the three most concerning questions for Christian college students today:

  • What am I going to do when I graduate?
  • What is God’s plan for my life?
  • Do those two questions have anything to do with each other?
The "Christian Work Hierarchy"
The “Christian Work Hierarchy”

Burkhart jokingly described what he calls a “Christian Work Hierarchy,” an unofficial career ranking system Christians culturally adhere to, probably without even realizing it.

He says pastors usually rank at the top and businessmen fall to the bottom. Some Christians might even believe the only reason why the for-profit people at the bottom exist is to financially support everyone else at the top.

But students want one hundred percent of their life to matter. If they are called to marketing or sales, does that mean they have to give away all of their money to live a meaningful life?

Burkhart argues that the first question, “What am I going to do when I graduate?” has everything to do with the second question, “What is God’s plan for my life?” Faith and work not only unite, but they come from the same source: God.

How should discerning college students answer these questions? Speakers offered practical solutions over the course of the night, encouraging students to get in touch with their gifts and passions and understand why their work on earth really matters to God.

Get in Touch with the Gifts and Passions God Has Given You

God has uniquely wired you. What did you like to do as a young kid?

  • Were you one of those kids who threw a fit when different foods were touching on your dinner plate? That might mean you have a passion for order.
  • Were you one of those kids who was always taking things apart and putting them back together? That might mean you have a skill for building.

Get together with a close friend or family member. Pray over the conversation and ask each other questions like the ones below. You might be surprised what God reveals through your time together.

  • Describe a time you’ve felt faith and work in tension.
  • What do you think God has wired you uniquely to do?
  • What has God created you to love?
  • What makes you come alive?
  • If you knew you couldn’t fail, what would you do?

Another way to get in touch with your gifts and passions is to expose yourself to different experiences. You might be a great artist, but if you’ve never taken an art class, you’ll never know.

There are also resources available that can help you discern your gifts. StrengthsFinder 2.0 is one such resource.

Know Why Your Work on Earth Matters to God

Work is good. Work is hard. But work also is redeemed, and one day will finally be renewed.

Pastor David McNeely told the crowd that the art we create, the books we write, and buildings we build, could all exist in the new heavens and new earth. That changes the implications of our work today.

He said we are to work in three different directions:

  • Work upward for God’s glory.
  • Work inward for your own joy and satisfaction.

If you’re a college student stressing out about any three of these questions, remember that God is for you. He is for your work. The purpose of your work is to glorify him and to serve others, but also to satisfy your soul.

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  • David W. Bryant

    A hierarchal expression of work is not natural. Hopefully, one day soon we can finally refer to “faith+work” as life. Until that time, education is crucial for removing the work hierarchy from human existence. Godspeed to IFWE!

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