How do we best prepare young people for their future vocation and calling? This is a question Christian parents, pastors, and influencers continually face. My friend, Alex Chediak has come out with a brilliant new book Preparing Your Kids for College. Alex is an educator who has thought through these issues in great depth. His book is a practical new resource for parents. I had the chance to ask him a few questions for this week’s Leadership Journal. Here is one of my questions:
Seems the church does a good job telling teens about following Christ, but not so well in helping them flesh out what that calling might look like. How can we be better at this?
Too many teens have a truncated view of Christianity in which prayer, Bible reading, evangelism, and worship services are important, but everything “secular” is somehow useless at best and contaminated at worst. Spiritual disciplines are vital, but Christian teens need a vision for glorifying God in the classroom, in the lab, in the library, on the sports field, in orchestra practice, in a part-time job, and everywhere else. The Bible teaches us to love God with all our minds. Teens should love learning because God gave them a brain, and he calls us to develop it in order to make the most of our talents. High school is a time to prepare for adulthood.
One idea would be for youth groups to occasionally bring in adults to talk about how they seek to glorify God and love others through their employment. High school is the ideal time for teens to identify their interests and talents (in terms of potential college majors or vocational directions). Let’s help them also find Christian adults who work in these fields—science, business, health care, and so on—who can talk to them about it, giving them accurate expectations of what college and the career would be like. For example, in the book I cite a Barna Group youth poll conducted in 2009, which found that 52 percent of teens aspire to science-related careers, but only 1 percent of church youth workers said they had addressed issues of science in the past year. If the youth pastor isn’t comfortable talking about it, a guest speaker could be invited. We don’t want to give teens the false impression that “Christians don’t do science.”