College Students Struggling to Find Significance in their Career Choices

College Students Struggling to Find Significance in their Career Choices April 26, 2013

KC McGinnis, over at the young adult magazine website, RelevantMagazine.com, has written a very helpful article for college students. McGinnis, a campus minister in Iowa City (as well as a writer and a photojournalist), talks about the problem he and his peers in campus ministry have witnessed:

Students keep switching their majors to religion. Usually after a powerful spiritual experience like a conference, they switch from their original majors of business and English and biology so they can pursue more overtly Christian fields of study. Eventually, they hope to find careers in ministry—churches, missions or nonprofit work.

…students (are) switching because they can’t see how any vocation could be more fulfilling or useful than ministry.

At other universities, campus ministers have the opposite problem: Students do whatever they can to stay away from ministry, viewing it as sort of a second-rate occupation, not a “real job.” Year after year, important positions in churches and missions organizations go unfilled.

These students are facing a common inner struggle for today’s young evangelicals: the decision between a career in ministry or a job in the marketplace. Each camp makes the same accusation against the other. For those in the marketplace, ministry isn’t a “real job” because it doesn’t earn a salary in the traditional way. For those in ministry, secular careers aren’t “real jobs” because they don’t focus on what really matters to God, like lost souls or starving children.

Nailed it!

I have been in campus ministry for eight years, and this is exactly spot-on.

KC then identifies how some students make their decision on vocation.

So, how does a student choose between ministry and the marketplace? As a campus minister who helps students make this decision, I’ve noticed two wrong reasons students commonly choose a certain career path:

  1. To obtain affluence, security and the approval of others.
  2. To justify one’s existence before God.

The students who take the first path may choose wonderful careers but for all the wrong reasons. They suffer because their primary source of comfort and security is not a loving God but a salary or the image they can project onto others. Their work suffers because their primary goal is not to be a part of God’s work in the world but to improve their position.

The second option is equally destructive but more subtle. Some students want to find the career that is most satisfying to God because they believe there is a risk of choosing a job that will disappoint Him. They experience paralyzing fear of the future or a constant, hidden guilt over their career decisions.

How do we best understand God’s calling to vocation in the college years?

Check out the rest of the article here:

“Does your Job ‘Matter’ Enough?: Choosing between ‘God’s work’ and ‘real job’ doesn’t have to be tricky business.”

Image by Charles Roffey. Used with permission. Sourced via Flickr.

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