As a college mathematics professor I often find myself advising students about various options for their futures (or, more likely, trying to convince their parents there are good reasons to pursue a math major). I have a standard speech I can give them, but I usually end up telling them part of my own Journey To Find God’s Will.
I attended a very small high school in Kansas (Haviland High School, which no longer exists; Haviland high schoolers attend the brand new high school ten miles down the road in Greensburg). Most grades had between ten and twenty students, which usually included two or three of my cousins.
Somehow I ended up for my first year of college at Kansas State University, a campus with around 20,000 students. It was overwhelming, to say the least. Ironically, surrounded by thousands of fellow students I was never more lonely in my life than I was that year. The only students I knew were those whose primary goal in college (and maybe life) was to get drunk as often as they could. I wasn’t interested.
So for my sophomore year I went back home to Haviland and enrolled in Friends Bible College (FBC, now Barclay College) and began thinking about future possibilities (which included more than a career – I soon met a girl I liked, Cindy Selby, and decided to see if there might be a future with her. There has been).
Students at FBC were required to attend chapel five days a week and so we tried to do that. With 16-week semesters, that means I was expected to attend about 150 chapels. Whew!
Guess how many chapel sermons I can remember.
One, sort of.
My vague memory of the sermon title of that one chapel was something like “Seven Steps Toward Finding God’s Will for Your Life.”
And while I claim that this is the chapel I remember, I don’t remember who the speaker was, and I don’t remember all seven steps or even if there were seven. It could have been six or maybe even five, but you get the idea. Assume there were N steps (remember, I’m a math professor). When I say I can remember this chapel, what I mean is that I can remember the general nature of the first N-1 steps but I can really only explicitly remember the Nth step.
If N=7, the first six steps were all about creating a healthy relationship with God. I’m sure they included steps like “Become a disciplined Bible reader” or maybe “Develop a healthy prayer life.” Or something like “Join a group of fellow believers.” While this math teacher might have a hard time coming up with six of these steps that don’t contain some redundancy, I’m sure anyone who has devoted his/her life to Christian ministry could come up with many more than the six the chapel speaker used.
Basically the first six steps were all about getting our life tuned in to a life whose primary purpose is to serve God. If we can get to that point, then we are ready for the final step:
Step 7: Do what you like to do.
It doesn’t seem so profound, and it even sounds a little dangerous.
But if we really desire to serve God with our lives (that is, we have successfully completed the first six steps) then whatever it is we like to do we are probably good at (or we wouldn’t like doing it) and it will honor God.
Whether it be painting houses or fixing leaky faucets or discovering a cure for cancer or ministering to the needs of the older generation among us (Cindy wanted me to add that one) or _________________________ (fill in the blank), we can use the abilities and desires we have been given to further God’s kingdom.
We can even teach math (math!) and enjoy it (I’m serious) and serve God (I’m still serious). For whatever reason God created me to be reasonably good at math (not good enough to be a “mathematician” but enough to be a teacher) and to really enjoy doing it and teaching it, and I can use this ability and joy to further God’s kingdom. Amazing!
Maybe God can do the same for you. What do you really like to do?