by Cheyne Rippey
The biggest question for 17-25 year olds is, “What should I do with my life?” or “What is God’s will?”
Millennials and Gen Z grew up hearing a misconception: “You can do anything if you set your mind to it!” But has God designed you as a blank canvas to which you’re supposed to add talents and skills? Not quite. Plus, it doesn’t give any clarity on how to actually find your calling. Instead, it seems that we’ve had a particular design since birth. God had something in mind when crafting you. Design reveals the designer’s will. Consider a hammer, a roof, or a house. A hammer drives nails, a roof protects from the elements, and a house warms a family. It would be crazy for a hammer to try to protect a family from rain, and it would be crazy for a roof to try to drive a finishing nail.
A more practical approach is to change the question from, “What should I do with my life?” to, “What have I already been doing?” This will show you your design, and design might show you your best job fit, ministry fit, relationship fit, and membership in the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:12-26).
What is my design?
Here are three practical steps to find your design:
Step 1: Identify the (good) patterns in your life
Think of some highlights, accomplishments, or most meaningful moments in your life. How were you functioning in those moments? How were you relating to others? When you feel most alive, what or who was around you? This is important because it is telling of how you were designed to contribute to this world. These patterns in your life speak into your calling if you submit them to God (Prov 3; 16:9).
As I coach young and old adults, I’ve yet to meet someone that doesn’t have a pattern. This pattern is fascinating to watch in action. No matter what the situation, this person is always achieving certain accomplishments or relationships. They work naturally with certain tools (hand tools, curriculum, people, computers, etc.) and somehow always find a way to use them. The goal then becomes to find a ministry that utilizes said tools, situations, and relationships.
Step 2: Understand how God views you and “your calling”
There are a number of stories throughout Scripture that show us how much God cares about what we do. Here are a few:
- Psalm 139 shows you that you were uniquely and beautifully crafted.
- Exodus 31 shows you that your gift isn’t an utter mystery but might be a tangible skill.
- First Corinthians 1:2-9 shows you that when you become a regenerate Christian, you become redeemed and your calling gets “enriched.” What you’ve always been doing now has eternal meaning. Your gift went from black and white to color!
- Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12:12-26 tell you to use your gift well, and to use it to serve others as the body of Christ. In whichever function you contribute, be good at it! Be humble in it! And don’t try to be a different member! The purpose of all of the gifts is to serve the body to strengthen it (1 Pet 4:10; Eph 4:16).
- 2 Timothy 1:6 shows you that you need to stir up the gift that God has put in you. Being “highly called” doesn’t mean you’re “instantly professional.” Everyone I’ve coached over the years has to continue in his or her education, training, and mentorships in order to fully pursue his or her ministry.
Step 3: Be in community
Let me speak boldly here: you need the Church in your life (Heb 10:25). Discipleship, mentoring, and community are necessary in pursuing your calling. There are even ministries that specifically coach you to discover your giftedness! You need this healthy Christian community in your life to teach you (Col 3:16), to provide opportunity and provision for you (Acts 2:44, 45), to hold you accountable, (Prov 27:17), and to encourage you (1 Thess 5:11).
You Represent the King
Your design, your gift, and your job are ultimately ways to reflect one of God’s attributes. You represent the King on earth. What is your life teaching others about God? Take it seriously and rejoice at what God has given you. Being personally made in the image of our creator (Gen 1:27) for the hope of heaven lends an eternally impactful, eternally meaningful life on earth. After all, if you “do anything you want,” and then go out and conquer the whole world, you’ll soon realize that it was never the world that you really wanted and end up back at square one. Instead, use your design and gifts to bring glory to your King.