Too Many Choices – Part 1

28 Mar

Working in the Career Center as a Career Counselor, a common question that I ask students is, “What would you like to get out of our meeting today?” A common response is, “I want you to tell me what major I should pick, and what I should do with my life.”

Making choices, and sticking with them is so difficult. What if I make the wrong choice? What if I choose a major that I enjoy now, then in five years, find out that I hate it? How can I know that this career is something that I’ll love, even thirty years down the road? I just don’t want to pick something for the wrong reasons, but at the same time, I want to make sure that I’ll be able to provide for my family. Sure it makes sense that I pursue this path, but how do I know that it is God’s will? These are questions that we all inevitably are confronted with at some point during this process called life.

It makes sense that as Christians, we want to please God with our decision-making, so it follows that we want to include Him in our decision making. For many of us, making a statement like “we want to include God in our decision making,” sounds prideful and sinful, because He’s worthy of more than inclusion. He orders our steps, and is the Lord of our lives. As a result, He’s the one who should be making the decisions, right? So a truer statement would be that I need to find, and decide to align myself with the decisions that God has already made for my life. That is to say that I need to make sure I’m “in God’s will.” Or would it be more accurate to say that we have a preoccupation with needing to get things right?

Kevin DeYoung had this to say about our generation: “We’re not consistent. We’re not stable. We don’t stick with anything. We aren’t sure we are making the right decisions. Most of the time, we can’t even make decisions. And we don’t follow through. All of this means that as Christian young people we are less fruitful and less faithful than we ought to be.”

We’re a generation of passive-aggressive perfectionists. It can be argued that young adults today have more options, and subsequently more obstacles to confront in the face of making important decisions than prior generations. It’s hard to commit to one thing when you have the option of something else. You know what I mean. Never committing to more than a “maybe” on a Facebook event invitation, just in case something better comes along. Or having an iPhone, Evo, Blackberry, or other device full of media, apps, and games that allow us a subtle retreat, just in case things get awkward, and we’d rather be doing something else with someone else. Is contentment even a legitimate option anymore?

As I type this article, my hunger is starting to get the best of me, and I’ll soon have to venture out of my man cave for some food. I’m debating how far I’m willing to travel for something different, moderately quick, and reasonably inexpensive. Being 20 minutes from D.C., I have plenty to choose from. I’m scrolling through my mental rolodex of restaurants, I’m perusing the Yelp and UrbanSpoon apps on my iPhone, and I’m reading all sorts of reviews from dozens of people who were once in my shoes. I’m doing all of this research because I have to make the “right” decision. And I literally have almost all of the resources in the world at my disposal to do it. If I don’t make the right choice, I will have wasted my time, my gas, wear & tear on my car, and more importantly, all of the information that I have at my disposal. I’m starting to think that I enjoy the pursuit of the perfect dish more than I enjoy the meal itself.

A lot students in our generation are having a similar experience when it comes to settling on a major to focus on or a career path to work towards. There are countless career paths available, completely new job positions being created almost daily, and more degree combinations than you can find in a meteorologist’s office. Oh, and you only have one life to live. The pressure’s on. Choose correctly, and theoretically, you’ll live a secure, successful, happy, fulfilled life. Choose incorrectly, and you’ll be miserable, you’ll be stuck, and you’ll die feeling miserably stuck. That just sounds, well, miserable.

These are all valid concerns, and one would be wise to take them into consideration.  While this is true, decisions must still be made. Both Kevin DeYoung (Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will) and John Ortberg (The Life You’ve Always Wanted) argue that many of us in the body of Christ have transformed seeking God’s will into an overspiritualized fear of decision making. They argue that in seeking God’s will, we approach it so passively that complacency and a form of practical paralysis sets in. We want answers, and we’re used to receiving them. Unfortunately, this post will not enable that mindset, as you’ll have to wait until the next installment (Pt. 2) for my concluding thoughts.

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