“What do you want to be when you grow up?  I’m sure you recall aunts and uncles and family friends of your parents asking you such futuristic questions. After all, who at ages 6, or even 9 or 16 knows what they want to be when they grow up? When our neighbor boy was 3, he wanted to be a fireman. He loved water-hoses and getting soaked! Now, in his early 20s, he’s off to nursing school. God knows, we need male nurses!  His heart to help others simply took a different path. Another young man tried university. He took one year, actually did well academically, but decided college wasn’t for him. Now, he’s a machinist running CNC machines, providing for his young family.

One is no less of a person because they didn’t attend university. Too much social pressure skews values based upon education. Do NOT misunderstand me. Education is an extremely valuable asset. Never neglect the opportunity to learn, but do not devalue a person because they don’t have a higher education degree. Having said that, figuring out what you want to do for a living can be a very confusing, arduous and painful journey. Just because you start down a certain path doesn’t guarantee you will finish it. Life throws curveballs. What you thought would happen doesn’t. What does happen no one expected.

One of the most reassuring truths that has helped me in my own career journey has to do with God’s will. I used to think God’s will is a series of dots. Connect the dots and you have God’s will figured out. Fat chance! I can’t tell you how many times the dots I was pursuing didn’t connect. The truth that set me free from worry and uncertainty is that God’s will is not a series of dots. It’s a box. Think of a large box where the sides are God’s moral will. His boundaries are not to squelch us but to keep us safe. Everything in the box is essentially open to us. The choices we make are to be based upon God’s wisdom. He’s given each of us a free will. Our personality, interests and desires all play into who we are becoming. What you like to do. What you enjoy. What lights your fire. Recently, I met with a college-aged warrior who was trying to figure out his career path. Via a summer internship, he took a career-aptitude assessment and discovered that his focus needs to be on jobs that foster creativity and entrepreneurship. A repetitive job would quickly come to an end for him.

Where to Find God’s Will?

God’s will comes from God’s wisdom, which comes from His Word. If you are not in His Word, it will be difficult for you to know God’s will. The more you are in His Word, the more His will becomes clear. Godly advice from others is what I consider a vital secondary source.  You can ask five truly godly people for advice and get five different answers.  Answers that can send your head spinning!  There may be bits and pieces of what they say that can fit your life’s puzzle together, but in the end, it all needs to connect with Scripture and how God has wired you. Those same aunts and uncles and family friends can offer you some good advice, but in the end, you and God need to be on the same page.  Do not live a life someone else maps out for you.

Studies have shown that over half of all college students will end up having up to nine different careers in their lifespan. Nine!  Not nine different jobs, nine careers. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, if the journey gets you to a sweet spot for how God’s wired you. On the other hand, if changing careers is more or less running from your problems, then the deeper issue is your character.

Which college you attend, or not. Which apartment you rent, or not. Which car you buy, or not. What color shirt you wear today has less to do with God’s will than your character and the man you are becoming. “God’s word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105.  No one really needs to know God’s will for what will happen 20 years from now.  What you and I need is to live in God’s wisdom today, by faith. Faith that God is somehow, someway orchestrating His purposes in your decisions AS you are guided by His Word. I ended up becoming an architect. Was that God’s pre-determined will for me? No. However, being an architect has become for me a career God has and is using. It fits many of my problem-solving skills, my interests in creativity and serving people. Could I have chosen some other career and have been just as much in God’s will? Absolutely! Never live with regret. Granted, you, like me, may have made some stupid choices over the years. When they happen, take responsibility, repent of anything that is contrary to God’s moral will, seek restitution and move on with life.  

So, what do you want to be when you grow up?  It has far more to do about you coming under His Word where wisdom is found than it does with where you live, what you study and who you marry.

Practical Steps to Figuring Out Next Steps

  1. Throw out the idea God’s will is a series of dots. Accept that His will is a box filled with wisdom. Don’t let that paralyze you with indecision.  Embrace it as an opportunity to explore and relish in this vast world God placed you in.
  2. Pray.  Sounds basic, but the truth is when you seek God, He will bring clarity to circumstances.  It might not all make sense right away but trust the process.  A closed door to an opportunity you thought was the best for you might actually be a blessing in disguise.
  3. Soak up God’s Word.  Again, sounds basic, but when you realize that God’s Word is living and active (Hebrews 4:12), you will want to devour His Word for the wisdom it offers.
  4. Seek Godly Advice.  Ask your mentor, your parents, a trusted colleague, a friend who knows you well.  Ask. Listen. Appreciate their advice. Compare what they say with Scripture. Make choices that are soaked in wisdom, not choices you think will make others happy.
  5. Career-Aptitude Assessments. There are some good career assessments out there that can filter through the way you are wired. They are not one of those “spin the dial and find a career path” buttons, but they can help you weed through a lot of options that are not you.



David Riffel is the Founder and Executive Director of www.Mentoring-Warriors.com. Having gone through his warrior years (18-30) essentially without a mentor, God has placed in him a heart for warriors, to come alongside them in various ways as they figure out life. David’s newly released book, Mentoring Warriors: Coming Alongside Young Men 18-30, outlines principles for mentoring and gives advice for warriors in six key areas of life: self-management, life skills, education/career, relationships, faith, and identity.