What to do with One's Life

J.R. Miller
(1840-1912)
 

With many, the question has been already settled. There are some who from early youth have had but one dream for their life. Almost from their infancy, they have had a passion for a particular line of duty so definite, so earnest, so irresistible, that they never think of anything else. With one it is business, with another carpentry, with another the profession of a physician, with another the Christian ministry, with another the farm or the sea, with another the mechanical arts.

In such cases the question what occupation to follow never causes any anxious thought. From the beginning the goal is in sight and the eye is never taken from it.

But the number of young men for whom the way is made so plain is not large. There are many whom no star guides in such unmistakable way. They have not an obvious preference for any particular work. Many students, as they come toward graduation, find the question what they will do when they leave college, almost as serious as the matter of their senior examinations. A considerable number of graduates go out decorated with a degree yet not knowing where they are going!

Then in the matter of final decision as to profession or calling, it happens often that it is really not made as the result of any intelligent thought about the subject but is merely that which appears to open. Many young men seem to drift into the place in which they are to spend their years. When they are expected to take up the burden and responsibility of their own life, they cast about aimlessly for something to do. They go the round of possible opportunities, seeking employment, knocking at door after door, until they find an opening. If you ask them what they have decided to do, they will answer, "I shall do whatever I can get to do." There is no great overmastering desire or purpose in their mind. They go out on their quest, equally ready to take a place as a clerk or salesman in a store, as motorman on a trolly car, as proof-reader in an editorial office, as teacher in a school, as apprentice in an electrical establishment, or as a student of medicine, law, or business.

This scarcely appears to be the proper attitude for one who has just completed a course in a college or other high-grade institution. It would seem reasonable to expect that after such a preliminary training, a young man should have formed some purpose in life, have settled upon something that he needs to do and is fitted to do. We are not made to drift on the current of life, to be carried wherever the tide chances to bear us, or the wind to waft us. We are made to think, plan, purpose and decide.

If we have even a dim consciousness of the grandeur of our being and our responsibility in the world, we must make our life purposeful.

It cannot be that anyone is born into this world just to be swept along like a leaf before the wind. Christianity teaches that in God's universe "nothing walks with aimless feet," that God made each one of us for something definite; that there is a place each person is designed to fill, a work he is created to do. If this is true, no one need ever be perplexed about what he is put on earth for. If God has a plan for your life, something he expects you to do, and for the doing of which he will hold you responsible he would never be so unreasonable as to hide it out of your sight so that you cannot learn what it is.

But HOW can we discover God's plan for our life? We must put ourselves into the most cordial relations with God. We must seek to do his will and to be guided by him in everything. At the same time we must recognize our responsibility for the abilities and capacities we have received from him, and must make the most of them.

We must have an earnest purpose in life. We are not placed in this world merely to be taken care of even by a Heavenly Father; we are here to serve God by serving our fellow-men.

Ambition which begins and ends on one's self is unworthy; our ambition should be to live out God's thought for us and to become the largest possible blessing to the world. If we have these great purposes in our heart, and follow Christ closely and faithfully, we shall never lack divine guidance. "If any man wills to do his will, he shall know of the teaching."

The way may not be shown to us in long stretches but it will be made plain step by step. The revealing will not be by supernatural signs but through conscience, by the words of God, by the advice of wise friends and parents, and by daily providence.

Those who are now asking anxiously what to do with their life, should first of all lay their hand in Christ's. Next they should take an honest inventory of their gifts and capacities, to learn what they are fitted by God to do. Then they should devote their life to Christ, to love and to service to his people. No lower thought of duty can be worthy or can ever have the divine blessing. "Seek first the kingdom of God" is Christ's word for everyone. With such thoughts of life and such consecration, there can be no failure; one will surely find his place.