November 10, 2014
When was the last time you got a Standing O?
It was great to be in church yesterday. Our pastor took the time – early in the service – to ask all of the folks in the auditorium who had served in any branch of the services – Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard – to stand. Unassuming and humble, men and women across the crowd rose slowly… and they were honored with a heartfelt applause that didn’t stop quickly.
Not many of us draw praise from an adoring audience in our real-time careers – not while we’re working, not years later – and there is no annual holiday set-aside for the professions we chose. Tomorrow is Veterans Day; the president has a pen and a phone, but don’t expect any unilateral efforts to name Brokers Day, Territorial Sales Managers Day, Chief Operating Officers Day, or Directors of Customer Service Day. Hallmark won’t be reprinting calendars anytime soon: our Veterans are special.
You’d think that the day of honor would affect the thinking of the young regarding their future career aspirations, wouldn’t you? With schools-out across America tomorrow, it must make the impressionable lean toward a future in the military… right?
Apparently not. When the quintessential assignment goes out in classrooms – with the request to complete the phrase: “When I grow up, I want to be a…” – what are they saying?
Here are the Top 10 Career Dreams for kids: 1) Athlete; 2) Doctor; 3) Veterinarian;
4) Musician; 5) Police Officer; 6) Firefighter; 7) Pilot; 8) Spy; 9) Actor; and, 10) Model.
Why those ten? The sphere of exposure for kids is pretty limited. If they don’t see them in action in their own life experience (doctors, veterinarians, police officers, firefighters), they only know the options portrayed in the stories told on a screen. Nobody is making network series featuring people who do what you do for a living, but athletes and musicians, cops and spies, actors and models all live a bigger-than-life life in weekly installments.
Ask the same question of the kids’ parents – halfway through life, though in many ways still “growing up” – and the answers may be different, but the criterion for conclusions hasn’t changed much: sift all of the stories running alongside us in real-time, and capture the Top Ten based on envy. Whose life do we most admire… wishing we could do what they do, to have what they have?
Here’s the best answer, for anyone between 10 and 100: “When I grow up, I want to be… me.”
Paul spent his life – after discovering his own answer – helping people clarify their own: “He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.” (Colossians 1:28-29)
“Fully mature, in Christ” means that they would become the full-grown version of what God creatively intended them to become when He made them one-of-a-kind. Whether they would ever earn applause in this life, or serve invisibly in their intended setting… the chance to earn their Creator’s applause one day was worth it all.
In our culture, career choice is often the primary identity; in the Creator’s blueprints, what we do for money is a part of our life experience, but not the principal brand that defines us. We’re more than our office title; our impact and influence on the world around us is an even-better way of describing a life. Growing up is not a season that ends with a job posting: it’s a continuing discovery of what God’s creative genius wired into us as potential that could be discovered and exploited.
What’s your answer?