God and career goals

In my post about Psalm 42, I gave an example of a song that I struggled to sing but have come to understand better over time.  Recently, I’ve been thinking about another area where my thinking has probably been wrong, but it’s been with me for a long time, and I realize I’m still struggling with it.

It’s the matter of how to reconcile my own desires for my life with God’s will for my life.  This has been the subject of a lot of sermons I’ve heard over the years, but one of the best ways I can think of to explain it right now is with some words from the song “Dreams I Dream For You” by the Christian group Avalon.

The song is sung from the point of view of God speaking to a human, and the verses contain some nice statements of reassurance like “You see your shame, but I see your glory; you’ve read one page, but I know the story.”  The main message of the song is stated in its chorus:

The dreams I dream for you

Are deeper than the ones you’re clinging to,

More precious than the finest things you knew,

And truer than the treasures you pursue.

Let the old dreams die

Like stars that fade from view,

Then take the cup I offer

and drink deeply of the dreams I dream for you.

This song lines up with a lot of messages and some testimonies I’ve heard about submitting to God’s will for my life.  The process seems to go like this:

  • As humans, we have our own plans, goals, and dreams about what we want life to be like.
  • God has perfect knowledge, and furthermore, he truly has the best in mind for me– not just the good.  His plan for my life is infinitely better than any of my own.
  • Choosing to trust God means giving up the expectations I have for my own life and giving him total control.
  • Even though it may seem like a hard choice at the time, I will eventually realize that God’s plan was best.

“Okay,” I reasoned.  “The thing that makes it hard for people to follow God’s will is that they dream their own dreams, set their own goals, and stubbornly cling to them.  I need to make sure that doesn’t happen to me.  Therefore, the best course of action is to avoid having any dreams or setting any goals.  I shouldn’t rule out any path in life as a possibility based on how much I think I will enjoy doing it.  If I try not to set any goals, then it won’t be so hard to abandon them when God tells me what he wants me to do.”

I’m not sure if there was a specific time when I thought those exact words, but that was my thinking process as I grew up hearing messages about surrendering my life to God.

The problem was that God never chiseled words into my wall telling me what career path he wanted me to take.  And since I thought it was wrong to let my own desires dictate my decisions, I had a hard time deciding what to study in college.  It seemed to make sense to me that until I noticed some sort of call, I should study the things I seemed to have ability and interest in– and I really enjoyed all I learned about Bible and physics at Cedarville.  (My Mom told me she was surprised that I chose Bible as a major.  I wanted to allow God the opportunity to call me to be a pastor or a missionary if that’s what he wanted.  But he didn’t.)  When I graduated, I was left with the same problem:  I didn’t know what I wanted to do or what God wanted me to do.

And to be honest, that’s still where I am now.  I think that my thinking about how following God’s will works was probably wrong– I didn’t like how it made me feel like God was just waiting for me to come up with some great desire so he could squash it.  But I’ve operated with that mindset for so long that I think I have a hard time coming up with dreams or goals now.  And I realize now that there is a part of me that wants to do something with my life that I have a passion for– I don’t just want it to be out of a sense of duty.

Sorry to be making such a melancholy post; I just thought I would post about one of the things I am struggling with right now.  Thankfully, I believe that God has used the situations I’ve encountered to teach me a lot, even if I went into them for the wrong reasons.


  1. Very thought-provoking. I love the way you put into words things that I’ve thought, but could never articulate.

    What is one of your passions?

    I appreciate your blog.

  2. Thanks for your encouraging comments, Heather. I had wondered if other people had similar thoughts about these things.

    I’ve been trying to come up with an answer to your question, but right now I feel like I don’t have any idea. I never thought I’d have to answer that question myself.

  3. As I’ve thought through it, I think your realization that God isn’t waiting for you to have a passion so that He can squash it is such a huge step. I think you said it in another post–something about how God doesn’t just LOVE you, but He LIKES you. These are faith building truths. I’m proud of you.

  4. Hi Nathan,

    I hope you don’t mind that I’ve been reading some of your older posts. I really related to what you wrote here. I also didn’t set any goals when I was young. Somewhere on my blog, I wrote that “I never wanted to set any life goals for myself, since I didn’t want to live for myself in this world.” I still feel lost when I think about the future, but as the Psalm says:

    “Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their masters,
    As the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress,
    So our eyes look to the Lord our God,
    Until He has mercy on us.” Psalm 123:2

    I still don’t feel like I have a life plan, but I’m trusting that He has one! 🙂

    In Christ,

    • Hi, Megan. I’m glad that you are reading my old posts; you are welcome to comment on them. Thanks for the encouragement– I know that one of the things God calls us to do is to wait on Him, so hopefully I am learning to do that.

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