If you’re a teenager, you have some big decisions coming up.
Where will you go to college? What will you study in college? How will you make money? Who will you marry? What do you want to do with the rest of your life?
It’s kind of overwhelming and if you’re like me, you even start to panic a bit.
“Oh no! I’m already seventeen and I have no idea what I want to study in college!”
It’s like needing to eat an entire elephant by yourself: impossible and a little bewildering.
But let’s slow down, breath for a second, and take one bite at a time.
First, I want you to know a few fundamental truths about discerning God’s will for your life and making right decisions. After that, I want to give you some really basic “To-Dos” that will jump-start your decision making process.
Let’s start with the basic of the basics:
1. You won’t always make perfect decisions and that’s okay.
Believe it or not, God’s not worried about whether or not you’re going to get to the right place in life. He’s not wringing His hands hoping you pick the right college, the right career, the right husband, or the right place to live.
Good heavens, God is far more confident in His plan than that. Like I said, it’s really basic but sometimes we forget it.
Another really basic concept we often forget is that…
2. God is not hiding His will from us.
What kind of God would create us with unique gifts and talents for a special work and then hide His plan from us?
It’s true, there is a certain amount of seeking that we have to do on our part, but it’s not agonizing and it’s nothing to lose sleep over. Seek Him and He’ll reveal His will to you.
3. God won’t let you down.
If we make a few sour choices, yes, we’ll face the consequences, but if our hearts are bent toward Christ, we’ll end up alright.
That is to say: God works everything out for the good to them who love Christ (Romans 8:28).
4. God created us for good works.
Did you know that God actually already told us what His will is for our lives?
Ephesians 2:10 lays it out: “We are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works.”
To do good works is why God created us. That’s his will for our lives!
I bet if you started looking around your community, Church, neighborhood, or even your own house you’d begin to see a pile of good works right in front of you. (One pile might be your laundry!)
Now, obviously this still doesn’t tell you what you should study in college or who you should marry, but like I said, it’s the basics. It’s where you start.
Once you’ve started, God can lead you to incredible places. But you’ve got to start. If you’re faithful in doing the basics, it won’t be long till you notice that you’re moving on to bigger and greater works.
Which fits right in with the last basic point.
5. Exploration facilitates discovery.
You’ll probably never discover your passion unless you explore.
Some people, like my older brother who’s studying to be a doctor, know at a very young age what they want to do.
Other people, like me, who get to graduation day and hardly have any clue what they want to do next, take a little more time.
But both of us found direction through exploration. This means trying different options, looking for opportunities, researching fields, watching professionals, actually doing life until something clicks.
Think about it. Currently, you’ve lived at most a fourth of your probable life-span. Why do you expect to know in the first fifteen to twenty years of your life exactly what you want to do for the next 30-40?
Don’t get me wrong, if you know exactly what it is you’re supposed to do, that’s great. But don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re still figuring it out.
So if that’s you: if you’re at a junction in life where you need to make some important decisions, I want to leave you with a short list of “To do’s” that I think will start getting the sparks flying.
Your Teenage-Decision-Making To-Do List:
1. Write down…
- One list of everything you’re passionate about and would love to do in an ideal world. Nothing is too crazy, big, or ridiculous.
- A second list of all the needs you can identify around you (the good works right in front of you). My dad says “If you see it, you’re probably the best one to do something about it.” This could be helping an elderly person buy groceries or mowing the church lawn or writing an article about a topic God has laid on your heart.
- Mark the stuff on the two lists that match up. It might surprise you how much they actually coincide.
2. Figure out and write down your big and your little “Why’s.” As Christians, we’re obviously called to glorify God. That’s a given. So try to get a little more specific.
My personal big why is “to inspire my generation to live wholeheartedly for the glory of God through the specific gifts God has given me, namely through communication.”
That’s not something I wear on my sleeve, but it’s a little marker that helps guide my decisions.
Your “Why” might be to bring healing and refreshment through your musical talents or transform communities by starting a new business and providing new jobs for people who need them. It could be anything God has laid on your heart and it might change over time, so don’t be too obsessive. Just write down what’s on your heart.
3. Explore. Think about and research some options.
- Volunteer in mission work for a year. There are some great opportunity right now in working with refugees from the Middle-East. There’s also Mercy Ships, the World Race, YWAM, and many other great organizations.
- Apprenticeship or trade job opportunities. Are you interested in carpentry or craftsmanship of any kind? Look for someone in that field and ask for a job. It’s like “hands-on” college. The training you get is the primary pay you receive.
- It’s a lot cheaper than college and many times has a greater return-on-investment (you get more back for what you gave).
- Start a blog about something you’re passionate about and write consistently for a year. Start a YouTube channel about your hobbies or interests. It’s free, so you have nothing to lose.Go to college.
- Figure out what it would take to get a degree in whatever field interests you the most. Research some college options.
- Get 1-1 coaching for something you’re passionate about.
4. Pray. Prayer is crucial to any decision a Christian makes. This doesn’t mean we necessarily stop and pray five minutes before every little decision. But as Christians, we should be continually walking in-step with the Spirit, listening to His little nudges and letting Him guide us as we move forward.
5. Get advice from people who have gone through this already. Parents are the best place to start and will have great insight since they know you, but they don’t always know the ins-and-outs of your field of interest. If you’re interested in a specific field, talk to people in that field. They’ll have incredible advice for you.
6. Let the peace of God guide you. Paul told the Philippians to not be anxious about anything. Instead, he he told them, tell God your requests and His peace would guide your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:6-7). What a tall order! But what a comfort! When we feel anxious, we can just tell it to Jesus and let it go. He’s going to take care of us!
Here’s the thing: God is not playing games with you. He wants you to be fulfilled. He’s given you gifts and He wants you to use them. Rest in His love and peace, explore some options, and start doing those good works He made you for!
Ready? Set? Go!
P.S. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Do you agree that God’s will isn’t difficult to discover or am I missing something? Which thought resonated with you the most? I can’t wait to discuss this with you!