going to work

College ministers are often slow to talk about “vocational theology” – theological processing of what “calling” means, and how to be a good employee. One reason for this is because their students aren’t clamoring for it. Unlike talks about dating (for instance), most students haven’t been out in the “working world” in the way they plan to after college. So they don’t even know to ask.

Many students don’t think about “working” as the primary Thing They’ll Be Doing for the next forty years (at least). For one thing, it’s just not something they’ve experienced, and who has big plans to prepare for something they can’t even picture? Meanwhile, many Christian women may be assuming their “work life” will transition neatly into staying home with children within the next few(ish) years, making it easy to skip preparation for what they believe will be a short-term “necessary evil.” And lots of students – guys and gals – see work as just that: a “necessary evil.” Others may have the dreamy view that their particular calling will be always enjoyable (which decreases the felt need to discuss these things, too).

So why not talk about timeless topics or issues they face today?

But your students – all of them, really – will go to work. They’ll have a vocation that follows college, a calling to some sort of labor that – biblically – isn’t a necessary evil but a beautiful piece of their calling in the world. And whether they love it, hate it, or somewhere in between, they need to see it through the lens(es) of scripture and discipleship.

And chances are, nobody’s prepared them for that… yet. They didn’t grow up hearing many sermons (if any) directed at their parents about vocation and workplace worship. Nobody gave them a crash-course in discerning vocation when they arrived at college (or in their youth group). Even those students who are working a job now are unlikely to consider it spiritually, because they’ve never been trained to.

Of course there are exceptions, and this theme is (happily) growing in Christian circles. But college ministers will still be the main opportunity to equip people here while the calling itself is being understood and its practicalities are being formed.

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