Life after college can be hard, but also full of meaning and hope. With graduation looming for many of you, what should you know about the world that waits for you on the other side of your diploma? What can you expect? What can you learn from those who have gone before you? In our 6 part series 'Life After College' we hope you find a few significant things to help prepare you for what's ahead.
“Read this manual.” “Take these classes.” “Watch this tutorial.”
Most jobs come with extensive training to ensure you know what you’re doing, but rarely does anyone teach you how to work. As Christians, I believe we are called to always be on mission for God. So whether you’re flipping burgers or filing taxes, constructing buildings or conducting research, you have a primary job of building God’s kingdom here on earth. And while there isn’t a particular formula for this, there are many meaningful ways to accomplish both mission and work simultaneously. I have found the following to be helpful in shaping the way I have worked as a front desk clerk, a teaching assistant, an engineer and a server.
Whether it’s for your coworkers, the task at hand, or simply relying on God throughout your day, praying as you work makes a huge impact. God desires to be involved in every aspect of your life, and so by praying you’re inviting Him into your thoughts, decisions, relationships and daily routine. Ask your co-workers how you can pray for them and then follow-up. As you saturate your work with prayer, God will also transform your heart and perpetuate a Christ-centered work ethic.
It’s not “just a job”. Wherever you are, whatever you are doing and however you accomplish it can all be done for God’s glory. Sometimes we default to thinking that pastors and missionaries do the spiritual heavy-lifting, but everyone who follows Christ are called to share His Gospel. The mission field exists wherever there are people who do not know Jesus, and I am willing to bet that you work with them every day. How would you work differently if you saw your job as an opportunity to demonstrate Christ to your co-workers?
This one can be tricky. Worried what your boss will say? Terrified of how people will perceive you? Unsure how to talk about your faith? These are all completely valid thoughts that I have had as well. For starters, make an effort to learn how to effectively share your testimony and the Gospel, then practice with your Christian friends. Also learning how to be a good listener and asking questions goes a long way. Most work places are not allowed to discriminate towards religion, so you are actually safer then you may feel to openly discuss your faith. Be respectful and maintain your own personal convictions. You might get creative and have intentional conversation over your lunch hour, or maybe invite your coworkers to get together outside of work. Be prepared for hard questions, awkward interactions and for God to show up in big ways. He is honored when you take steps of faith!
During one of my engineering internships, I found myself pondering over Jesus’ work-life before His public ministry. Did he find being a carpenter mundane? Was he counting down the hours to leave each day? What was it like to make tables and chairs for almost 30 years knowing that His public ministry was yet to happen? From what I know about the character of God and the person of Jesus, I think He was likely the best carpenter in Nazareth. And not because He was perfect, but because He desired to honor His heavenly Father in all things. He probably spent countless hours praying over the people He interacted with daily, delighting himself in the beauty of the wood and investing himself fully into each creation. He worked with excellence, not because His worth originated there, but because He exemplified His Father through it.
As a working person in the United States, you are already among the wealthiest in the world. And as a person who follows Christ, you are called to steward all that God gives you. So we hold loosely to our wallets and entrust the Lord with our finances. Maybe God wants you to buy that person’s lunch, start supporting a missionary, or invest in a local ministry. Whatever it may be, God desires that He be your ultimate treasure – not your paycheck, and that you seek His Kingdom above all things.