rebelling against low expectations

High School Graduate, Do the Next Thing


“What are your plans after high school?”

By now, you think I would have a solid answer.

“Well, I want to write. Maybe take some online classes or find a mentor. I’ve researched different degrees and programs but haven’t picked any. I want to keep serving in my church too. And it’d be fun to learn a language…”

The short answer?

“No clue. Get back to me in five years.”

Is It Okay Not to Know?

I’m days away from high school graduation. I can feel the workload lightening and excitement escalating. What will life be like without equations? Without quarterly tests? Without pages of definitions to memorize?

In one week I’ll find out.

But right now, I’m swimming in murky waters. When friends ask about my post-high school plans, the answer sways and changes. I don’t know what lies ahead. All I can do is sketch ideas and guess.

Is it okay not to know?

I’ve been asking myself this question since last summer. My friends were touring campuses and applying for scholarships. I watched my peers gear up and get ready for college. It made me feel behind—like I should be doing something, but I didn’t know what.

Then something capsized my post-high school perceptions. A book called Just Do Something exchanged my idea of waiting on God’s will for a better, healthier idea.

Doing the Next Thing

My mom has a motto I think is pretty wise. It came from a radical woman named Elizabeth Elliot. She once said:

“When you don’t know what to do next, just do the thing in front of you.”

My “What-will-I-do-after-high-school?” dilemma was challenged by this wisdom. Because here’s the thing: I want to do what God wants me to do.

You might be the same way. You have hobbies, talents, gifts, loves. But when it comes to God’s will for your life after high school? You’re lost.

In his book, Just Do Something, Kevin DeYoung sheds some brilliant light:

“If you are seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, you will be in God’s will, so just go out and do something.”

God’s will for our lives isn’t a riddle. It’s not a prize hidden at the end of life’s scavenger hunt. God’s answer to our questions is often in plain sight—spelled out in his Word.

God’s Answer to Manoah’s Question

Like me, Manoah was a human seeking direction. When an angel of the Lord appeared to Manoah’s barren wife, he brought startling news. The couple would have a son. But not just any son—Samson would be a boy bound by the Nazarite vow.

Manoah wanted direction from God.

“Then Manoah prayed to the Lord and said, “Oh Lord, please let the man of God whom you sent come again to us and teach us what we are to do with the child who will be born”” (Judges 13:8).

The angel did return, but he didn’t give Manoah a child-rearing manual. He simply repeated what he’d told Manoah’s wife the first time. And it was enough.

God had already answered Manoah’s question before it left the man’s lips. The Nazarite vow would be his son’s destiny. God would be powerfully present. That’s all Manoah and his wife needed to know.

And God’s promised presence is all we need to know.

God doesn’t just own the answers to our post-graduation questions. He is the answer. This frees us to tuck away our high school books and start doing the next God-glorifying thing.

God doesn't just own the answers to our post-graduation questions. He is the answer. Share on X

God’s Will Beyond High School

High school graduate, I know the questions seem endless. The waters feel dangerous. The future ripples like a strip of haze on the horizon, forever out of reach.

But be encouraged—emboldened—to take a step. Leap across the lines of your comfort zone. Stop sitting in the waiting room of God’s will and start splintering doors. Be an explorer. Take action. Do something.

God’s ways aren’t our own and his plans are far beyond our knowledge (Isaiah 55:3, 25:1). But this we do know: The Lord wills us to “do justice, love kindness, and to walk humbly with [our] God” (Micah 6:8).

High school isn’t a finish line. It’s a launchpad. What better time to chase these eternal goals than now, as young people standing at the starting line of life beyond high school?

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About the author

Bethany J. Melton

writes from her brick home on Edgewood Road, where she reads books and takes walks and plants things that sometimes sprout. You can find her words about Truth, Hope, and Home in a pocket of the Internet called Bethany J's Journal.

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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 →