Life starts at graduation.
These words (whether stated or implied) have echoed in high school classes, college counselor offices, and even on stage at graduation ceremonies.
College students spend, at minimum, four years preparing for our future. Frantically juggling how to schedule our classes every semester, balancing studying with hangouts, and trying not to have an identity crisis; it’s no wonder many of us believe our life starts at graduation.
Or perhaps our life somehow becomes more meaningful once we are handed our diploma and officially start our professional careers. After all, studying isn’t what we traditionally think of when we unpack the idea of work.
How could I make a difference in God’s kingdom when my life hasn’t even really started yet? When I don’t have an actual job?
In reality, our life actually begins when we realize that God has given us all an unique opportunity to glorify Him right where we are, as we live out each day.
While it can be easy to fall into a mindset that we can’t use our work to glorify God until we get our diploma, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. God can use us right where we are.
Whether you are a college student obtaining your degree, a professional ten years into your career, or you are recently retired, you can make a kingdom impact in and through your life and work.
But what does this look like, practically? As college students, we’re constantly looking towards the future, wondering what our careers will hold, where we will live, and who we will interact with in our jobs. Although there is nothing wrong with preparing for the future, we cannot lose sight of where God has placed us right now.
This is our patch of ground that we are called to cultivate, explains Terre Haas who is a teacher, preacher, and student of the kingdom. Whether it’s our workplace, community, school, or home, we are called to cultivate the area we have been given - no matter how big or how small that might seem right now. We don’t have to wait until the next big thing to honor Christ through our life and college years.
“Where you’re working, where you’re living, that’s the patch of ground that God has given to you as an individual. Your responsibility is to bring the Kingdom of God to that patch of ground,” Terre explains.
So for us college students, our dorm, cafeteria, and classroom are our patches of ground. So, plant your seeds and water the soil. Our “work” in college can honor Christ in the way we love our roommate after a conflict, sit with someone in the cafeteria who may be lonely, or navigate a group project with students who have differing ideas.
Work is not just limited to the hours we spend studying to pass a test. It’s not just our nine-to-five where we clock in every day. Work is not just a paycheck.
It doesn’t matter whether we are a student, nurse, or teacher, work does not define us. But it should certainly point us back to our Creator.
When God created mankind, He gave them a mandate: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen. 1:28).
Be fruitful and multiply.
“Being fruitful and multiplying is a lot more than just having babies. It’s about being fruitful and productive in your work. It’s about starting where you are and expanding the Kingdom of God. That’s really what Genesis 1 is all about,” Terre explains.
God created us to work. And the beautiful thing about this is that there are no stipulations as to what our work has to be. Our work is good.
The very beginning of Scripture shows a God, our Creator, working. For six straight days, God worked to create the heavens and the earth, the land and the sea. And when he was done, God saw that “it was very good” (Gen. 1:31).
God’s work was good.
If the God who created the universe looked at his work and saw that it was good, shouldn’t we do the same? No matter what our work is right now, or what that patch of ground looks like?
“Work is a way to reveal the Creator. It is a way to reveal God,” says Terre. Our work matters. Whether we are studying for the next big exam, preparing for a business meeting, or helping a sick patient, our work matters. God wants to use us right where we are to further his kingdom.
There is always going to be a next step in our life, and we are always going to be chasing another job or opportunity. And while ambition and drive are good, we can’t get so distracted that we miss out on our present work.
So, let’s cultivate our ground right now!
God put us here to bring the Kingdom of God to all the earth, whether it is across the ocean or in our hometown. Work is more than bringing a coffee to our supervisor in our very first internship, or selling school supplies at the campus bookstore to earn a little extra money. When we show up to work, school, or church, we are to be image-bearers, reflecting our Creator in all we do, whether it is in our words, actions, or attitude.
Work is a good thing. It is a unique opportunity to bring heaven to earth.
But sometimes this truth can become overwhelming. What if I mess it up? What if I pick the wrong college, choose the wrong major, or accept the wrong job?
Don’t be afraid of this. God is in control of every second of our lives. This truth should free us from any pressure to get everything right at this very moment. No matter where God places you, enjoy the process and opportunity to serve him – no matter the location, concentration, or vocation.
Work is a chance to see the goodness of God lived out in every industry and every place. So, cultivate your ground. Press into your school or workplace and be the image-bearer God designed you to be. The world needs what you have! Be fruitful, reflect Christ, and cultivate your ground. No matter where you are, “and whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Col. 3:17).
Life doesn’t start at graduation. Life is happening right now.
Written by: Cara Groves
Cara is currently a junior at Cedarville University studying Professional Writing and Information Design.