Today I’ve got a post published at the Cultivare blog on Patheos, which looks at the intersection of faith and work. Here’s an excerpt:
There’s a meme I enjoy called “Old Economy Steve.” It’s a high school photo of a kid from the 70s with a zitty face and a future marked by an affordable college education, a fulfilling job, and a manageable mortgage. Steve has been dubbed the official meme of embittered Millenials, expressing young people’s frustrations with a bad economy and an oft oblivious older generation.
While our parents lived lives Old Economy Steve would recognize, the dreams people my age have always been encouraged to pursue are, for many of us, a thing of the past. But still, we wonder:
What do we want to be when we grow up?
What should we do with our lives?
What’s our calling?
Answering this question is a lot more difficult than many of us expected it to be. I’ve been blessed to be employed full-time in the field of my choice since I finished college—but my career has been the exception of my generation, not the rule.
On a macro level, the picture is grim: The youth unemployment rate is officially 16%—double the national average—but when you count those who have given up on finding work altogether, that figure jumps to nearly a quarter. Add underemployment to joblessness, and 53% of American youth are affected. For those whoareemployed, it’s no longer possible to pay our way through college in four years with part-time work; and the median cost of a house has jumped from 3.5 years’ worth of median income to 7.9 years’ worth of median income since 1970. I’ve had the luxury of thinking about my calling in life—now for class credit in seminary!—but few of my friends can say the same.
So what does it look like to discern one’s calling when the calling you’re most concerned with is coming from the hiring manager at the local Starbucks?
Is there room for vocation-seeking when you’ve got a student loan bills which promise to last ‘til it’s time for your own kids to go to college?
Can you, as educator Parker Palmer encourages, “let your life speak” when all life seems to be saying is, “Get a job and move out of the basement”?