An Incomplete Question

Three Ridges Hike, near Charlottesville, VA.  Photo by Brittany Fan. 

Three Ridges Hike, near Charlottesville, VA. Photo by Brittany Fan. 

“What do you want to do with your life?”

Every person around the age of twenty has heard this question (or at least a variation of this question) too many times to count. And hearing this question has always bothered me. I have never known how to answer it, but now, thanks to the Fellows Program, I know exactly what I want to do with my life!


I still have no clue what I will be doing with my life—or even what I will be doing the year after my Fellows year—but that’s okay. In my relatively short Fellows experience thus far, I have figured out the reason why I can’t adequately answer this question that has haunted me and every other millennial alike.

While it may be true that I am prone to indecision when facing a plethora of choices, that’s not the reason the question is so hard to answer. It is also true that after analyzing the many options at hand, I often don’t find one I deem satisfactory, but that’s not it either. 

The real reason that “What do you want to do with your life” has seemed like such an impossible question to answer is because it is an incomplete question. Although asking a young adult, “What do you want to do with your life?” sounds fairly benign, it is actually reinforcing a cancerous, individualistic mindset that makes career and calling all about the self. The question should not begin and end with “you.”

Through the many personality tests, classes, and conversations with friends and family I’ve had this year, I’ve come to believe that the full question one should ask goes something like this: “What do you want to do—with the gifts, talents, and abilities God has given you—that will benefit others?” This three-part question still involves choice, but more importantly, it acknowledges that each person has unique gifts, talents, and abilities given to them by God. We are not meant to waste these life tools. Instead, we are to use them for the betterment of others, not just ourselves. 1 Peter 4:10 summarizes this perfectly: “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace.”

My time in the Fellows Program has helped me realize that what I do on earth matters. What I do can help others flourish. What I do can be Kingdom-building. And the best part is, each and every person’s vocation can, should, and will look different from others’ according to the gifts, passions, and personalities God has uniquely given them.

I am not naïve enough to think that just by reframing this question, I will be able to calculate the right answer as if it were a math equation. Now, more than ever, I might be fairly confused about how to approach the future. But in the midst of the swirling tornado of thoughts, ideas, worries, and insecurities inside my head, there is God–crafting a plan for my life that only His perfect timing will unveil.

These past two months have not unlocked all of life’s mysteries, and neither will the next seven, but my time as a Trinity Fellow has given me a framework to approach God’s call on my life with confidence. I know that He created and gifted me uniquely, and that He wants to bring about His kingdom here on earth. My fulfillment in life won’t come from crafting an individualistic, inwardly focused plan. My fulfillment will instead come from knowing I am stewarding the gifts God has given me. My life is not all about me, and I shouldn’t treat my vocational calling like it is either.

Matthew spent his childhood years in Colombia, South America, and Puerto Rico. At Houghton he was a member of the varsity basketball and soccer teams. His marketing internship at Houghton saw him writing articles for published magazines and increasing the college’s social media presence. Matthew studied abroad in Tanzania and lived with both urban and rural Tanzanian families. He mentored kids at sports and wilderness camps for three years and was an assistant basketball coach at his high school alma mater.