As I look at the various “themes” God seems to have brought up on the recent 6-week trip, probably the most obvious was the theme of Vocational Discipleship. It was interesting that time and time again, college ministers spoke with me about this issue: Training students to live out their vocation in light of God, His calling, and His reign. It’s worship through our work, sanctifying the “secular,” living as Christians disguised as dentists, teachers, politicians, baseball umpires.
I had a wonderful college ministry experience during my time at Texas A&M. It prepared me for life and ministry in ways I continue to remember fondly – and miss. But I don’t remember once hearing anyone suggest anything about connecting my “school life” with my spiritual life in non-obvious ways. I certainly could be forgetting, but it wasn’t prevalent, that’s for sure.
My mentors and peers weren’t anti-education. I’m sure we encouraged each other to “do our best,” and even if that command is cliché it’s also very Christian. But I have occasionally wondered – during that time and since – why no one ever offered discipleship on living that out in the particulars. As with anyone, my “educational profile” was complex; in my case, I was a Psychology major, strong academically, studying in the Liberal Arts college, thinking about going into Business… or Psychology… or Ministry, taking Honors classes, taking 18 hours (some semesters), taking far less (some semesters)… and so on. Any of those aspects of my “educational identity” could have been approached as “calling” – but what did I know?
Like I said, my experience was fantastic. But this is an area I would say was probably missing.
Fortunately, the prevalence of this lack within college ministry may be changing. Or maybe I just ran into it a lot because I was in the Northeast, where education, academia, and “the public sphere” hold a particular esteem. (Who better to lead us in this?) Either way, it seems like something that should be on our radar. Not only does it ready students for the Transition Out, but it helps them comprehend what it means to be a disciple within that 50+ hours a week they’re going to be devoting to calling.
We have plenty of other discipleship areas on our collegiate radars, too; we fit each piece as /when God leads. But I imagine that helping our students connect their (future and present) profession to their spiritual lives may just be one of those “great in the basics” ideas that should top our priority lists.
Later this week, some resources on this and thoughts on doing this in your ministry!