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What Is God Calling You To Study?

August 7, AD2014 5 Comments

Pretty soon, many students will make the return to college to continue their four year academic odyssey. This group will also include recent high school graduates that will officially become college students. The one question they are sure to be asked will be, “What are you majoring in?” For some, it will bring a quick and confident response. For others, however, it will only add to their anxiety.

Who is God calling you to be?

I was reading an interesting article the other day that discussed how we can inspire our youth to hear the voice of God in their lives. It mentioned that we should refrain from asking, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” and instead ask them, “Who is God calling you to be?” This mindset can repress that underlying urge within each of us that makes us concentrate only on those careers that lead to wealth and fame.

I immediately began to think about how this approach can help our young college students. What if they were asked, “What is God calling you to study?”

I remember when I declared Psychology as my college major. My best reason for choosing this course of study was because it was what my brother was choosing as a major. It was not a process I would refer to as ‘discernment’, and it did not take long for me to realize this was not the major for me. (Although, I did eventually minor in it along with Philosophy and Theology). My official major was General Arts (aka Liberal Arts). I remember vividly the reactions I received from people when they asked me what I was studying. They looked at me as if to say, “Boy, you are wasting your time. Good luck finding a job with that on your resume.” It made me feel pretty uncomfortable. It was not until years later that the ‘fullness’ of my education was felt by me, even though it was always part of God’s plan.

Your journey through God’s calling.

Each of us is on a unique walk with God that includes our individual journeys through college. College offers exciting opportunities for growth: intellectual, physical, emotional, and of course, spiritual. I never took the time to reflect on this aspect while I was there. I never stopped to consider what area God was calling me to embrace. I never wondered whether, or not, I was doing HIS will. This lack of awareness created many moments of doubt and frustration, while generating many questions about my academic endeavors. Considering God’s place in this aspect of my life would have allowed me to engage my inquirers with a better response. Perhaps, I could have said, “God has called me to study about His Church and His ways of living a good life in union with His teachings. How to study real truth and apply the knowledge contained within it to make the world a better place.”

Now, I do not know what would have happened, if I had responded differently, but it would have sounded much better than what I usually uttered. Considering your choices from God’s perspective, greater validates your purpose. It truly evokes discernment, which can lead to clarity and direction.

I have now come to understand (years later, of course) that the purpose of my education was to build a pathway for passion and understanding of the Catholic faith. Many things I experienced in college created doubt and confusion. They did not always correspond to sound Catechesis. I never realized that the struggles I experienced would eventually give way to encouragement and inspiration. Now, I no longer assume the authenticity of academic rhetoric. I now attempt to seek the highest forms of truth, goodness, and beauty that exist in this world, and beyond. I believe that my degreed course of study was what God wanted me to pursue all along! My years of searching have revealed to me an overwhelming zeal for our One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, and her teachings, which I wholeheartedly embrace!

Have you considered God’s calling for your life?

Asking our young adults to consider where God may be calling them can reduce the anxiety they may experience when starting out. Even if they are beyond their first year, they can still benefit. They will still have expectations placed on them from multiple directions, but mainly from themselves. Parents, family members, and friends can help tremendously by alleviating stress through praying for them during this journey. Certainly parents always want what is best for their children. (Plus, they are usually the ones paying the tuition so they deserve to be involved in the process from start to finish.) College is an investment, and as with any investment, a positive return is always expected and appreciated. When deciding which field of study to embrace during college, (and I do mean embrace) prayerful discernment must be a priority, along with research and discussions with knowledgeable individuals.

My advice to college students is to check in with the Holy Spirit often. Ask for His guidance and wisdom as you continue to search for the right opportunities, the right people, and the right institution(s) to attain your ultimate reality. This journey may require sacrifice, but, it is for God’s greater glory that one is educated, and it is in His world that one is called to serve. Following God’s call will also ensure that the trials and tribulations along the way will be well worth the effort. Remember to never lose sight of your eternal goal (Heaven) and do not forget those whom God has placed in your path to help you along the way.

May God bless our college students (especially our freshmen) and may He constantly guide them in their academic labors as they acquire knowledge and maintain faithful conviction to His Truth and His Will!

Resources:

http://thepracticingcatholic.com/2011/01/14/seven-quick-takes-how-to-foster-vocations/

About the Author:

Todd was born and raised just outside of Philadelphia (Go Phils!) but now lives and works in the Diocese of Grand Rapids, MI. He has worked with youth for over 15 years in the areas of ministry, athletics, and education. He is a proud family man and has a passion for all things CATHOLIC!

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  • http://www.dianemckelva.com/ Diane McKelva

    Todd, I wish I had read your article before I started college. Thank you.

  • Confused

    Todd, how I wish my parents would understand what you’re talking about. They only view my future in terms of what career job I will have, how much does it pay & how useful it is (nothing about God’s will). I go to a public university as a commuter & live at home. I was on a Premed track (my parents happy that I would be a doctor- good job, good pay/prestige, useful major) but when after much prayer & time I told them I actually wanted to study Philosophy as My calling was to be a priest. My parents all of a sudden turned very disappointed (even angry at me), I was confused (was not expecting such powerfully negative reaction), so now I’m just drifting through life, taking courses I don’t even care about, confused. My family goes to Mass on Sundays as obligation but they’re lukewarm & are not active nor supportive of the faith. I don’t know what to do at this point. Often I feel very alone. Todd & everybody reading this, I would appreciate any prayers & thoughts & words of advice. The uncertainty of my future is killing me in the inside

    • Todd Nolan

      There are many who are (and have been) in this same position you speak about; including many of our greatest saints. A friend of mine did not receive much encouragement/support from his parents when he entered seminary. (He did, however, receive this from many others, including myself). He is a great priest by the way! It is important to recognize that discerning the priesthood is not the same as being a priest, the same way that dating someone is not the same as marrying them. It does, however, mean that one is willing to deeply consider the possibility. I applaude your desire to follow God’s will for your life and I will pray that this road becomes clearer to you each day. I would suggest, along with continued prayer, to seek out a priest who can act as a spiritual director/guide for you during this time. As I said at the beginning, many have been in your shoes, and they can provide great advice. God bless!

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  • David Peters

    Excellent article Todd. I like how your own journey was interwoven in with the encouragement!