By Dr. Jeff Baxter
Discovering your major in college is an exciting journey. Did you know that you already have interests that relate to your major-to-be. From the moment you were born, throughout elementary school and all the way through high school, God has been molding you into who you are. If you are a follower of Jesus, He is guiding you to your purpose in life.
This includes your major in college.
I probably don’t need to tell you, but I will anyway; choosing a major can be an important part of determining your future career path. Here are some things to help guide you as you circle, searching for your sweet spot in the center of God’s will.
Look to Scripture.
God will use your growing relationship with Jesus and the study of the Bible to help you grow into the person he wants you to be. For example, as you read the letter to the Galatians you discover there are acts that lead to living a sinful life and acts that lead to living a fruitful life. Paul says the fruit of the Spirit is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (5:19-26). After reading through this passage, you might find yourself confessing situations in which you’ve given into sinful behavior and asking God to help you live a fruitful life. Something special happens in this experience of studying the Bible. God begins to change your character and, in doing so, reveals to you who you are and what you’re to do.
Look for open doors.
These are opportunities and experiences that are right in front of you. In college, there are so many classes to choose from. You aren’t expected to know what you’re going to do with the rest of your life the day you bust out of the double doors of high school. Your early college years are years of discovery. There are many general education classes you’ll need to take to graduate, but you’ll also have opportunities to take elective classes that let you explore different areas. The larger the university, the more classes you’ll have to choose from.
In addition, look for opportunities to serve on or off campus. Getting paid is a bonus, but don’t expect to make money during the discovery process. Keep your eyes and ears open for God’s divine appointments. He wants to help you find the major and career direction that will best fit you and give you the greatest joy. Ask yourself, “What does the world need that’s a good fit with my abilities and interests?” This question might direct you toward an area of study and a major.
Look to your heart.
As you take classes, stay in tune with the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Keep asking yourself questions like: “Do I enjoy this class? What do I like and dislike? Could I see myself working in this field the rest of my life? If I could do anything I wanted for the rest of my life, what would it be?” Ask God to give you passion and a peace about your decisions. This is a big deal.
The path your heart reveals may surprise you. When I was growing up, I didn’t like to read. My mom tried everything, but I always preferred being outside with a ball playing sports, like soccer, basketball and tennis. In time, I began to enjoy reading as I found my areas of interest: theology and culture. You may find yourself drawn to something you didn’t like at an earlier age.
Look to your design.
Paul says that each of us is “God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works which he created in advance for us to do” (2:10). God has designed you to make a unique contribution in this world. With a consistent and growing relationship with Jesus, this design can be discovered with God’s glory in mind.
As you step off the metro trains in the United Kingdom, you can hear a recorded voice reminding riders to “mind the gap” when stepping from train to the platform. Well, you need to stay alert and “mind the GAP”—your Gifts, Abilities and Passions. God has designed each one of us with gifts, abilities and passions ready to be discovered and used in his service. It’s our responsibility to discover our spiritual gifts, natural abilities and passions by serving in many areas.
Look to your church community for affirmation.
Don’t underestimate the importance of having a local congregation of believers surrounding your life. As you head into the real world, you might be traveling a far distance from your home church. If that’s the case, make sure you become involved in a congregation near your college. Get to know some people and begin to serve. Ask them what they think about your gifts, abilities and passions. Chances are very good that, as you serve, you’ll talk about areas that are important to you and fire you up. Your fellow church members could help you discover your major and future direction.
As you apply these tips above to discovering your major, consider some additional questions. Take some time with God and journal your answers.
1. What do you really enjoy doing? (You could spend all day doing this. You love it.)
2. What can you do better than most people? (This isn’t a prideful thing; just be honest.)
3. What would those who know you best say your greatest strengths are? Ask them.
4. Of the following jobs listed here, which three are most appealing to you, and why?
Accountant, fireman, computer programmer, nurse, mechanic, surgeon, farmer, lawyer, architect, flight attendant, astronomer, business executive, professor, teacher, policeman, engineer, scientist, dentist, paleontologist, statistician, psychiatrist, entrepreneur, salesman, therapist, doctor, contractor, real estate developer, writer, musician, pastor, youth pastor, missionary, actor/actress, yodeler, zoologist, politician, store owner, stockbroker, pilot, pharmacist, consultant.
5. What did you enjoy most about high school? (“Nothing” is not an answer.)
6. If money weren’t an obstacle, what would you spend your time doing? (Again, doing ”nothing” is not an answer.)
7. If you could be famous for something, what would your accomplishment be?
8. What needs do you see in the world that you’d like to help meet?
9. What’s God asking you to do?
10. Is there something you’ve always felt you should do with your life, but didn’t have the courage to do?
These questions can lead you toward your major and other life goals. You don’t have to have it all figured out by tomorrow, but you can’t steer a parked car, either. Start the car. Start serving. Start listening to God’s voice. Start paying attention to his movements and the relationships he places in your life.