When I Grow Up
This seems to be the number one question asked of kids.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
We’ve all been asked it and have more than likely asked it of our kids too. It’s always fun to hear their answers and hear how their answers change as they grow or as interests change.
But are we asking the right question?
Let me explain.
Growing up I loved animals, absolutely loved them, and so when I learned that a veterinarian takes care of animals, I guessed that is what I would be when I grew up. Now a key part of this example is a part of my personality. I can get what my husband calls ‘blinders on’. Which means I can get so focused on one thing that I can’t see any other options.
So, whenever I was asked, what will I be when I grew up, I answered without wavering Veterinarian. Then every action, camp, job, and class I took in school moved me toward my goal.
But what I missed in my ‘blinders on’ goal, was how God created me.
I was so focused on what I thought I wanted to be that I missed the way I loved the outdoors, how I loved stories and art, how I like to observe my world.
Even throughout college, when I was just a couple of years away from applying to Vet School, I found myself writing more than I was studying.
But what if a different question had been asked growing up?
Instead of What do you want to be, how about these:
- What are you passionate about?
- What do you gravitate toward in your spare time?
- What are the talents and abilities God has given you?
- What are your strengths?
- What are your weaknesses?
Rebekah Lyon’s in her book You are Free: Be who you already are, puts it this way,
“...calling is where our talents and burdens collide. Our talents are our birthright gifts, the gifts that make our hearts sing, come alive. Our burdens are found in our stories, in what breaks our hearts.”
These are the people that truly love their jobs. The people who merge their talents and their passions.
My sister is one of them. Growing up she would rearrange her room on a weekly basis. She would spend her whole weekend getting everything in its right place. Can you guess what her career became? Her talents and passion merged into becoming an interior designer, and she really shined in that career.
As I look back over my life, I see how I have had opportunities to be a nurse, a teacher, a muralist, lab assistant, and others. While I could have done any of these jobs well, none really spoke to the burden God had grown in my heart.
I love how in the movie Soul, when the main character Joe asks one the ‘Spirits’ in charge of new souls, what Soul 22’s purpose was. And the ‘Spirit’ answers ‘we don’t assign purposes here…a spark isn’t a soul’s purpose.” I loved that part of the movie, while it’s a little wonky in its idea of souls and the afterlife. The fact that we are cookie cut into molds and ‘made for something’ isn’t Biblical.
What is biblical is that we were made in God’s image (Gen 1:27), made intentionally (Psl 139:14-15), worth rescuing (Romans 5:8), and constantly being shaped for God’s glory (Isaiah 64:8).
Josephine March, from Little Women, said it best, “I could have been a great many things….” And that is true of me and probably you too.
Even my thirteen-year-old came to me really confused one night. He said, I don't know what to be. I don't know what to do. I want to be an archeologist, a Lego builder and designer, a comic book maker, a teacher, a librarian, and a few others. But he felt so conflicted and confused. So, we sat down and talked about each of those careers, and then talked about where the pressure to choose something came from. I encouraged him to explore a little bit of everything. "you're young, you don't have to have it all figured out right now. Now is the time to explore your interests." Try new things, and if you find something that makes your heart sing and glorifies God then by all means follow that goal with everything you have. But for now, know there is only the expectation to try hard at whatever you say yes to, right now.
If we shift our focus from a career to learning how our kids are made and encouraging them to know and explore their interests without the pressure of ‘your future depends on it’. Our kiddos might be more attuned to finding a future that honors God more than their wallet.
Let’s be in the business of both learning our kids and teaching them about how God has made them, so they can find themselves directed by the Lord not how they answered the question “what will you be when you grow up?"