Article originally appeared on the Verge Network in May 2015. Collaboration with Kelly Porter.
Be honest with me. Are you a twenty-something reading this article at a 9-to-5 job you don’t really like? Or maybe you’re sitting in the Student Union Building scared to death of what’s coming after graduation in two months?
If so, you’re in an elite class of almost every twenty-something everywhere since the dawn of time. Congrats!
I’ve been there before. It’s been 14 years, but I still remember what it was like. I remember alternating between being mortified of the “real world” or supremely over-confident that I was going to dominate it.
One thing I don’t remember was an onslaught of people telling me what to do. Perhaps it’s because my advisors thought I had no potential or that my aura of over-confidence had them convinced I didn’t need the help.
Also, in 2001 the Internet wasn’t the same immutable noisefest it is now so there were significantly fewer voices telling me what to do with my life. When I was 22 and jobless or 25 and disenchanted with my career, I went to my closest friends and family for wisdom.
I feel bad for you guys today. You’re at a crossroads in your life and you need wisdom and resources for your next step in life. Unfortunately, only one of those is readily accessible online.
You know how many results come up when you Google “how to decide what to do with your life?”
172 million. That’s no shortage of resources. This article is one of them. Are you going to read the other 171,999,99?
Don’t do it. A lot of them are well-intentioned, but they’re incomplete and thus, not as helpful as they could be.
Just the other day, I read an article entitled “20 Things People Over 20 Should Stop Doing.” It was clever and accurate, and got over 34,000 shares on Facebook.
For the record, I agree with 19 of the 20 things suggested. I simply refuse to stop saying “YOLO.” I also think there is something missing.
Same with this article, “7 Signs Your Twenties Aren’t Going As Planned.” It does a tremendous job highlighting how to identify that things are going well and helps walk back exactly how you got there. But it’s missing something.
Even though those are just two examples, I wonder if the rest of the 172,000,000 articles take a similar tone of reminding you of what’s wrong with your life and all the things you should stop doing and never deliver what you’re looking for.
Which is wisdom in what to do next.
You guys desperately need people that love you and care about you to provide wisdom so you can take a step forward – ANY step forward.
I’ve always believed that wisdom is knowledge + experience. My generation has both, but we’re not helping you guys a single bit if all we have for you is a tiny bit of empathy, a healthy dose of condescension and absolutely none of the wisdom we’ve collected.
Let me at least try to help. Here are two suggestions that you can do right this second to help you decide what to do next:
Pursue biblical wisdom
I hope this doesn’t make you mad because it’s probably not new information. Yet the importance cannot possibly be overstated.
The wisdom you’re looking for is there and it’s available every day.
For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints. Then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path (Proverbs 2:6-9 ESV)
God wants you to love him with everything you have and share him with others. The ongoing pursuit of loving Him leads to wisdom and confidence that he’s in control of your plan and your steps. You can make a decision and take a step knowing that even if it doesn’t yield your perfect result, you’ve sought to follow the Lord the absolute best you know how.
Pursue the Lord every day. Read your Bible every day, pray often and specifically and seek wisdom from believers who are close to you and love you.
That’s how you gain wisdom. From there, think about what you want to do, make sure it isn’t sinful, then do it. Just do it. Even if it doesn’t fit conventional wisdom.
Loosen your grip on conventional wisdom
When you graduate, are you expecting to start the job you’ll eventually retire from? Are you worried that you’re stuck in your current job for life?
Why? Who says that has to be the way it is?
Conventional wisdom says that you graduate and then you go to work. If you went to the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, then you graduate, get married, go to work – all in a three-week span. Either way, it’s simply not universally true anymore.
The reality is that some of us are not prepared to pursue a career. The good news is that there is still plenty of room for development and assistance in finding that one thing that God has designed you for.
LAUNCH is an experience designed to provide aspiring business, non-profit and urban ministry leaders with the tools and training they need for impact wherever they go. It’s like a residency program, but more. LAUNCH develops, trains and provides hands-on training in the city with real leaders who are making a difference.
The Austin Stone Institute is a church-based training system built to develop those called to lead in the home, church, city and world.
These aren’t programs that delay the move into adulthood – it’s not working a snack stand in Cabo for two years. These are programs that provide professional experience as well as a great deal of grace as you learn what your gifts are and how to use them for the redemption and restoration of your community and city.
The mass of information available to you these days isn’t all wrong. It’s telling you the truth but if it’s not providing wisdom then it’s not enough.
Don’t hold tightly to conventional wisdom. Take advantage of programs like LAUNCH, ASI and others where leaders exist to provide wisdom gained over decades of life experiences.
And pursue Biblical wisdom at this point in your life and at every point that follows. Regardless of what you do for a living, you experience the joy of knowing Jesus, wisdom and rest in his unfailing plan.