As I walked through the mall recently, I noticed fancy dresses on display and groups of girls laughing as they went from store to store, shopping for just the right outfit. Boys, looking more uncomfortable, were searching for a stylish suit and tie. Yes, high school graduation time is upon us.

Our 17-year-old son will graduate next year. Wasn't it just the other day he was choosing his courses for Grade 11? Should he do a second language in case he wants to go to university? What math courses does he need to take? How high do his marks need to be to get into university?

Fortunately, he has a good idea of what he wants to do after high school. It suits who he is and what he enjoys doing. However, there's always the question of what comes after that. Choosing the right career path is a daunting task these days. With a difficult economy and the cost of living, the pressure is on to make the right choice. Are there any jobs in teaching? Just how useful is a tech degree? Can you make enough money in environmental science?

How can we help guide our children through the maze of job choices out there?

From the day they are born, we watch our kids' unique personalities and abilities develop, as they become the people God designed them to be. As caretakers of these awesome beings, we have the privilege of helping them discover just who they are. One of the first questions in helping them choose a career is, what do they enjoy doing? Perhaps they work well with their hands and love to build things. Perhaps they love details and order. Or it could be they love working with people. Maybe they are great with words and want to be a writer. However, there are even deeper questions to answer first: Who are they? What are their values? What brings life to their souls?

Unfortunately, too many people, including Christians, can't answer these questions. And if they do know who they are, they hide it from the world out of fear. They put on masks, which become their false selves. It's this fear that pushes our young people into things that aren't a right fit for them. It is the world calling them to fit in, to choose what will bring financial rewards and a successful career.

Whatever their particular bent, it's important to challenge our kids to consider what God might want them to do with their lives. That's not an easy thing to do. They might look at us as if we had horns growing out of our heads, or, at the very least, we'll get the eye roll. But the concept that God has made us unique and has a purpose and plan for our lives is more important than doing something we enjoy. It's also more important than how much money a job pays.

The Bible tells us how to discern God's will for us. Romans 12:2 says, “Don't be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can figure out what God's will is—what is good and pleasing and mature” (CEB).

It's hard to live this way—the kingdom way. The upside-down, counter-cultural way Jesus spoke about. I know I'm not the best at it. I sometimes wonder how I can ever hope to be a good example. Can you imagine how much more difficult it is for our teenagers?

The world will pressure our kids to conform, to buy into the predominant culture, to choose a career according to the values of the world. But there is so much more for them. So encourage your children to use their gifts and talents in a way that allows them to live out kingdom values—love, humility, justice and forgiveness. It won't even matter what they choose, as long as it honours the values and the Spirit that lives within them. That is when they'll find their true path.

Major Kathie Chiu is the corps officer at Richmond Community Church, B.C.

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