rebelling against low expectations

What should I study if I want to change the world?


MIRJAM WRITES: I’m asking this question because I’m graduating from secondary school soon. After that, I’ll go to university, so I already have to think about what I want to study. There are lots of options, but I’d like to study something with which I could make a difference (e.g. not just something to make the rich people richer). Any thoughts on how I could make the right choice?

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  • This is something I’m dealing with too, and though I haven’t figured it out yet, I think a good way to think about it is to think about things you’re already good at or enjoy, and how you can use college as a tool to prepare yourself to use those skills in service to others.

    For example, I like writing. I don’t know exactly what I want to do yet, but there’s every chance that someday other people will read my words and see God or learn something or become hopeless fanboys/girls—and depending on how I want to approach that, I could go into marketing, or English, or communications, or history, because depending on what I want to write and how I want to share it I can learn things in college that will either help me be a better writer or help me share that writing with others.

    If you want to choose a degree while thinking about making a difference, I would start with what gifts God’s already given you. If you’re really good at math then you could someday become an accountant who helps get poorer people out of the debt cycle. If you’re concerned with people’s feelings and are good at making people feel better you might go into psychology to eventually become a counselor, or something to that effect. But if you’re not a math student or you aren’t interested in mental health, then making a difference in those areas of life probably isn’t your best choice.

    Basically, there are a lot of ways to serve God, and he can totally hook you up, it’s just that you may have to do a lot of thinking and a lot of experimenting to find what works best for you.

  • I think that you could study anything, science, engineering, anything that you want to do. All that you need to do is love it! Once you graduate use your studies to praise God and worship him.

    • Welcome to the Rebelution! Glad to see there’s others like me – I joined a week and a half ago. How do you like it so far?

          • I’d suggest following Sam S, Trent Blake, and Nathan Tasker, but okay… need to change my settings first.

          • Speaking of settings… can anyone tell me how to add a profile picture? I’d love to use a picture of my bible, or something like that…
            Please make any instructions simple: I understand a lot of things but technology is not really one of them… I learned a lot just figuring out how to post anything here… 🙂

          • Ok, it didn’t work. I tried 5 times… here’s what I did…
            Log in
            go to the edit settings button (beside log out)
            the little profile page pops up. I click Avatar.
            then a I clicked “upload a picture from your computer”
            then I hit the brose button and it showed me the pictures on my computer.
            I selected one and hit the open button. I could see the picture code on Avatar.
            I hit save changes. (the button was still white, though)
            a few seconds later it would always tell me :this page cannot be displayed. (that is what happens when I lose internet, but I hadn’t lost internet…)
            I never was given the option to crop a photo…
            If this won’t work that’s ok, but it would be fun to figure out…

          • That happened to me once, I think my image was too big for the website to handle (too high-quality). Have you tried a picture from the Internet? That’s how I uploaded mine.

          • I don’t know if you figured this out yet…
            1) Go to your disqus account
            2) Click on “settings” in the upper right corner
            3) Go to “edit profile”
            4) Go to your avatar
            5) Select from where you want to get your picture
            If you use a picture that’s been saved to your computer, just click “upload picture from your computer” and select the file
            6) Adjust the picture to fit the crop
            7) Click “Save Changes”

      • I joined here less than a week ago myself too. I am currently blown away that there are other teens like me, who read their bibles and pray and strive to walk spiritually and pray for guidance and the list goes on…

        • Yes, I find this site amazing for the same reason. Although I’m in a small group of teens who are kind of like me, this site blew me away. So many teens like me!!

  • I think God will use whatever your talents are. For instance, I’m probably going to study Spanish interpretation in college because God gave me the ability to pick up Spanish really easily. Because it’s from God, I know that He will use my abilities to help others. So, whatever you’re good at and enjoy, study that and God will show you what to do afterward. (That said, if you expect to need to support yourself and/or a family, it would be important to see what sort of pay you can expect with a major you’re looking at, and see if you can survive on that sort of income.)

  • Study what you love the most and God will give you opportunities to use it. He gives us gifts for a reason.

  • Mirjam,
    I think Grant Bingham is completely right. PLEASE study the Bible. It is THE handbook for life. Want to change the world? Walk with God–privately and publicly. Jesus says that we overcome by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony. Get to know people. Tell them about your story. How did you get to know Jesus?
    I think the next step is to ask yourself the question “How do I want to change the world?” The books “Do Hard Things” and “Start Here” explain this pretty well. They give multiple examples of big AND small hard things that we can do to help others or to grow personally. Both are important.
    If the way that you want to change the world involves big hard things, follow Alex and Brett’s advice by finding other people to help you, reading books relating to the topic, and following God’s Word.
    A personal example I have is that I want to change the world by teaching kids in a classical Christian environment. This is a huge desire of my heart that God is helping me to pursue. Once I decided that I wanted to do this, I immediately got my parents involved. They both gave me great advice and connections that have helped me immensely. I’m also getting practice in teaching. I volunteer in a 5th grade band class and a first grade classroom every Friday that I am available and that class is in session. I am also reading books that describe in detail what the best methods are in teaching and I’m asking questions from experts in those fields where I can put the best amount of time, money, and effort to get training and a college degree so that I can further pursue teaching to God’s glory.

    Blessings in whatever the Lord calls you to do and wherever He calls you to go, Mirjam. You are in my prayers.


  • A lot of people have already said some really good things, but from a more practical point of view, you can try to start thinking about HOW you see God’s plan for you to change the world playing out.

    Practically, if you plan on doing missions overseas, I would consider a more versatile major that you could either teach or easily find a job in. This could include engineering, teaching, etc. Things like getting your TESOL (teaching english as a second language) certificate require planning and could limit opportunities.

    If you want to change the world through working closely with people, a degree in liberal arts, international studies, psychology, etc. would all be suitable, as you get more practice with solid communication skills and learning more about human nature and people.

    If you want to maybe start your own company or influence the world through technology, getting a degree in computer science/engineering lets you be able to build things yourself. A business degree could also be good to get a better view.

    Remember that there is NO ONE WAY. If God has planned for you to do something, He will also determine your footsteps and create a way. Don’t feel like a choice of major will determine what you CAN do – it’s easy to branch out, find partners, etc. Keep an open perspective, love God, love people, and be passionate about what you do.

  • Question: “What should I study if I want to change the world?” The short answer is: the Bible. The explanation is that through His Word God changes you, and then gets you ready for His use, and then through you He can change the world. The real answer (as you asked it in the context of what to study at a university) is to pray about it. Also, ask older Christians who know you well what they think, like your parents or pastor. They might be right, they might be wrong, but they may know certain things about you better than you do. God gives us certain talents or interests, and usually always wants to use us accordingly. Some are called to be elementary school teachers, others doctors, or missionaries. You have to find out–from God–what He created you for. And then pursue it with your whole heart. I hope you succeed! =v)

  • I would strongly advise anyone thinking of college to do your homework. All public universities are just a breeding ground for atheism. Even most Christian colleges would not meet the standards of righteousness that The Lord requires for our teaching. An excellent book to read is called “Weapons of Mass Destruction” whose author’s name has escaped me, it you can find it on Amazon or at your local library. It tells the roots of our current public education system and gives dat on the success rates of public colleges.

    Definitely reading and studying the Word is vital and essential for whatever walk of life you pursue. You don’t need a college degree to be used of God nor to reach the world’s definition of success. God will lead you. Be faithful to Him.

    My husband and I raised both of our kids by homeschooling them. We honed in on their gifts and talents, but the goal was God’s glory, not achieving worldly success. Our daughter is now owner of her own furniture restoration and vintage inspired shop and our son is the shop manager for a large electrical company. Only our daughter had some online college education. There was a lot of training getting to where The Lord led them, but they were obedient to His Word and let Him lead.

    As far as “changing the world.” I don’t want to sound redundant on this subject, but only God changes the world. We are just empty vessels that he fills to do His work. I don’t, and I know God doesn’t, look at any achievement however small,or big as greater in His kingdom. Is the lady giving her time to help a neighbor any less a big thing as someone who leads someone to Christ. We are all on a level playing field when we choose to follow Christ. We need not look at achieving but submitting to Him.

    Blessings to all for this New Year.

    • The colleges going after your faith is real – my sis was uber-conservative in her senior year, then she went to a “Christian” college and when she came back after two years she wasn’t the same – it was like God didn’t exist anymore. (She is now living with her boyfriend.)

    • The other good book I am studying in High school this year (I’m homeschooled) is called Saving Leonardo by Nancy Pearcy. It is (so far) about how the world secularized and why people do certain things because of secularization. So far, it has helped me understand a lot when I look around…
      A word about colleges (and/or universities in Canada) Yes, it is tough on the faith of some to go. I think the secret is that while Christianity always grows in the face of persecution, slow gradual attacks that “gently” try to undermine it can lead to shrinking faith… By determined to stand firm, and keep a lookout for subtleties.

  • Study communication. No matter what you do to change the world, you are going to have to communicate your message to people. Especially if you start up a nonprofit, the field of communications allows you to be an effective at presenting, persuading, and teaching–which are usually ingrained in ministry. Obviously Bible is a valuable major, but it may be best suited as a minor to communication considering that a degree in the Bible will give you plenty of information but not necessarily how to change the world with it. Just because someone knows a lot about the Bible doesn’t mean they know how to translate that to people effectively. Communication is key in making the Bible meaningful.

    A degree in some form of communication (there are different subfields) gives you the tools to speak out in your community, rally people behind your mission, work in teams, lead, advertise your project, organize events, ethics, and most likely the degree will require a little business law, which can be beneficial. If you want to change the world, a communication major is the way to go.

    Public leadership, organizational communication, media communication, public relationship, and general communications studies are all names for different branches of communication. Explore which fits what you might want to do to change the world. If you want to start a ministry or business, look into leadership degrees or public relationship degrees. If you want to speak or just raise awareness, look at general communication or media communication or marketing degrees. And if you do decide to get a Bible degree, make sure it’s a Bible and Ministry degree so you can learn the leadership and communications along with the Bible.

    Hope all this helps!

  • That is a really good question and frankly for you I don’t know what the answer would be. But I do know one thing for sure, it may not always be so much of what you do, but how you do it. Sometimes it seems like changing the world is something huge that someones whole life builds up to this huge event when they blow the socks of everyone and make history.
    But honestly I think the people that have made the greatest impact on the world, were people who took every ordinary situation in their life to respond in a extraordinary way. Wether that was helping the ‘least of these’ or just purposing to encourage everything single person that comes into your path and point them to Jesus, even if it’s just the cashier in the check out line. Impacting the people for Christ is the greatest way to ‘change the world’. One of my favorite quotes that inspires me everyday is “A noble life is not a sudden blaze of glory won, but the adding up of many days, where the will of God is done!”

  • A lot of people have given some very practical advice, so I won’t restate it. Instead I am going to try to encourage you, because if you are human, there are probably times that you will grow discouraged or worried about this. Though I will say STUDY THE BIBLE!!!!!!!!!!! I don’t mean in school (though that is great too) but on your own, or with a church, etc. just always make sure you are gowning spiritually. Everything else is details…

    Remember Proverbs 3:5-6

    “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

    Seek to follow Christ, put him at the center of all you do, and he will get you where he wants you.

    “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
    and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” Proverbs 9:10
    Fearing the Lord will lead to wisdom. Remember when God granted to Solomon anything he wanted, and Solomon chose wisdom
    Also, Remember Abram. God told him to pack up and leave for a new land. God didn’t tell Abram where to go, just simply “go”. And Abram went. God revealed directions as Abram needed them, instead of handing him a road map.
    Remember Jonah. He said “no” to God, and God still put Jonah where he wanted him. You have said “yes” to God. How much more will he put you where he wants you?!
    Remember Ester. She didn’t want to be where she was, but she submitted and it turned out that God used her there, in the role she never wanted to be in.
    Also, in the midst of it all, keep in mind Philippians 4:6-7
    “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”
    Remember, you are not the only one going through this. “the trials that are befalling you are not uncommon to man…” God revealed to me what I was to do in life starting when I read a bible verse. Perhaps he will work in the same way for you. My verse was and is Philippians 1:29
    God bless,

  • The Bible is a definite number one. 😉
    But number two, I live overseas with my family and see how much the people need doctors who will treat the people and help them. While I’m over there, people are constantly dying simply because they didn’t take their medicine. Or they couldn’t afford it. Or they didn’t know they were supposed to take it. Doctors are definitely needed all over the world.

    • That’s actually what I want to do with my life. Become a doctor and go overseas to care for people like Jesus did – both physically and spiritually! 🙂

  • Not being anywhere near ready to head off to college, I can’t really tell you what to study, but I can say that getting as much experience as you can will help you narrow down what you want to do in college, and what you want to do with your degree afterwards. Doing volunteer work, engaging in an internship with a charity or foundation that interests you, or even possibly working for some of them will be a good way to figure out what you want to do, and will give you the skills to do it.

  • It really depends on HOW you want to change the world. My favorite quote (er…well…one of them) is from Frederick Buechner: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” So find something that you are passionate about! Something that sets your heart on fire. Then find a place in the world or a group of people that would benefit from your passion. And run with it. It doesn’t matter what you study (though I am personally a big fan of social work!), it matters what you do with it. Seek God’s guidance always. Do what honors Him. That is how you change the world.

  • To be fair, almost all the folks who rocked the world for Christ didn’t actually start from the ground up like changing the world was a career choice. They were shoemakers, baseball players, coal miners, just ordinary people doing very ordinary things, through whom the Lord did extraordinary work. Take whatever major the Lord leads you to, whether you logically *think* it’s your best shot or not.

    There is NO college major that will equip you for the task of changing the world, or effecting widespread revival and awakening. God needs only willing vessels who give Him wide-open availability for use.

  • You know, through watching my older brothers choose what they will be, I have learned that you really need to let God decide for you. Use the gifts and talents He has provided you with to give Him all the glory.

  • Wow! Gran pregunta, siempre me eh preguntado que seria lo correcto estudiar para agradar a Dios y lograr cambiar el mundo, es cierto que es la Biblia pero que tal si somos algo tímidos y nos cuesta demasiado acercarnos a las personas o si nosotros queremos estudiar algo mas, como enfermería, ser un profesor, un arquitecto o algo mas, eso nos ayudaría a acercarnos a las personas de una manera mas fácil… Que seria lo correcto estudiar para ayudar a que este sea un mundo mejor para Dios?. En lo personal, lo que a mi siempre me ah gustado de pequeña ah sido enfermería, me gusta todo aquello en lo que pueda ayudar a las personas, cada ves que paso por fuera del hospital sueño con trabajar ahí ayudando aquellos heridos, o ir a algún lugar, alguna ciudad en donde haya pobreza y poder sanar aquellos niños indefensos; pero es algo muy difícil, de mucho sacrificio, me distanciaría de la congregación por falta de tiempo…! Ay Dios como saber que es lo correcto! Como saber si a Dios le agrada o si esta en sus planes para mi! Como saber si mi decisión servirá para cambiar al mundo para los ojos de Dios?

    • Yo creo que si se quiere servir el Dios, Él va a usarte. Mi español no es buen – ya aprendo. ¡Bienvenido a este sitio de web!

          • 😀 Tengo una pregunta para ti. Quiero escuchar música española pero no sé que es buena para escuchar. Qué es tu música cristiana favorita? Gracias!

            Cómo fundé este sitio de web?

            Cuántos años tienes? Tengo quince años pero voy a tener dieciséis años en nueve dias 🙂

          • Mira unos de lo cantantes que me encanta es Marcos brunet, En honor a el y Evan Craft. Yo tengo 19 años :O y felicidades ya no queda nada para tu cumpleaños 🙂 eso de “como fundé este sitio de web?” jiji

          • Conozco unas canciones cuales canta Evan Craft, pero las conozco en inglés!

            Gracias por felicidades 🙂 Eso hablaste, verdad?

            Cuántos hermanos tienes? Yo tengo tres hermanos y cuatro hermanas. Soy una chica 🙂 Y también yo tengo un cuñado y una cuñada.

  • Where does God draw your heart toward? That may be the best place to start. I would suggest praying about it. God has marvelous plans for you, and He knows the desires of your heart even better than you do.

  • STUDY THE BIBLE! Whether on your own; with family, friends, church; or as a field of study in whatever college or university you’re attending…

    Never underestimate the Word of GOD! In all reality, you can use almost any field “to change the world” for GOD’s glory! Business, fashion, technology… with GOD, all things are possible!

  • There are alot of good comments here, so I’ll keep my answer short. You should pray to find out what your God-given passion is, and also read the bible, specifically the stories where God leads people (which is like… most of them) Try to find out what he wanted them to do, so that way you can see what God’s interested in doing when he comes to the world. Also, read biographies! I love history, so I may be a little biased, but I think that this is a great way to find out what inspires you, plus, if you find something that you like to do, chances are there’s a bio of somebody who did it, so you can use it to encourage yourself. My personal favorites are Martin Luther and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Luther wasn’t such a great guy towards the end of his life, but he started off wonderfully, and Bonhoeffer (the book by Eric Metaxes) was thrilling. I also (sort of) liked the bio of Steve Jobs. I really didn’t like alot of the stuff he did (he was a real hippie, he cussed out people often, etc.) but the thing about him that was inspirational to me was how he could focus SO well, and he just knew what to do, then didn’t let anybody get in the way of it’s getting done. Hope that makes sense, and is helpful! God bless you! 🙂

  • I think that if God wants you to do something, you might think highly of it as well. Also, you should think about how you can use that occupation for God’s work. Definitely read the Bible for guidance 🙂

rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →