Blog | Topic: Career

College: A Blessing That Increases Our Ability to Bless

Oh,_the_Places_You'll_Go“You are blessed to be a blessing.”

This past weekend, driving to Canton, OH to speak at the First Friends Church, I listened to a sermon by John Ortberg. I have been listening to his sermons pretty regularly for the past year, motivated after reading his most recent, inspiring book Who Is This Man? The Unpredictable Impact of the Inescapable Jesus.

This particular sermon was part of a series about the mission of the church. Pastor Ortberg points out that the church’s mission is based on two words: “Go. Bless.” Ortberg then walks through the Biblical story, pointing out how the people of God are “blessed to be a blessing to others.”

There is a bit of surprise (spoiler alert!) during the sermon when Ortberg invites a woman onstage to talk about how she blesses her passengers as a bus driver in San Francisco. It is very moving and quite powerful. Take time to watch or listen to this sermon. You will not be disappointed.


I think the reason I loved this sermon so much was that it resonated with my work very directly. Ortberg begins by talking about Dr. Suess’s popular “graduation” book Oh, the Places You’ll Go! and throughout the sermon compares it to the people of God. God sends us out to be a blessing, wherever we go! I think that’s the vision we need for college.

We often talk about college as something you do in order to open more doors that can lead to a successful career. The message and guidance most students hear is that college increases the opportunity for “success.” There is truth to that vision, of course. I certainly don’t want to undermine the role that college can play in helping others succeed in life. But I offer a different vision: College is a blessing. It is a gift. And a college degree should lead to having more opportunities to bless others. In other words, a follower of Jesus should think about college as increasing their ability to bless.

What I like most about Pastor Ortberg’s sermon (and the CTI vision for college!) is that this basic understanding of the Gospel can be lived out regardless of someone’s educational level, IQ or occupation. We can be a blessing to others, we can “love God, and love our neighbors” wherever God places us.

After a seminar, someone once said this to me: “I think this vision for life and learning changes everything.” I think it does too. Understanding or even grasping the implications of the Gospel, however, is not the tough part. Living it out and making college decisions based on this vision is where the rubber meets the road. Oh, the places you’ll go!

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5 Videos & 5 Books for Navigating Life After College

FNArticle1“And what will you be doing after graduation?” asked the president of my alma mater the night before commencement. My parents and I were at a special “invitation only” party at the president’s house. When the president asked me this question, the room went silent. Other students and their parents, holding paper plates and plastic cups, stopped talking, stared at me with inquisitive expressions, and leaned in to hear what I was going to say.

My dad said loud enough for everyone to hear, “We’d like to know too, actually.” Big gulp. Deep breath. This was my response: “A degree in political science from a state university has really only prepared me for one thing: seminary.” Some people snickered, most people slightly tilted their heads and raised their eyebrows (like a confused puppy) and I think one guy coughed up a potato chip. My parents did one of those half smiles. They were proud that I said something amusing in front of all those people, but were both wishing I hadn’t said something so amusing in front of all of those people.

I remember dreading the “what are you going to do?” question during my last three months of college. Like most seasons of deep anxiety, however, when I look back I realize that most of it was unwarranted. It makes sense to be apprehensive about the future, to be sure, but as Kierkegaard famously quipped, “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” What I needed more than anything was perspective and a few ideas for ordering my daily life.

For those in a similar situation, what follows are five videos to watch and five books to read to help guide you as you transition out of college and into work. It’s not an exhaustive list, of course, but I’ve found them to be helpful. Feel free to add your suggestions to improve my list… Read the rest at Fieldnotes Magazine here.

Fieldnotes Magazine is a publication of the Max De Pree Center for Leadership at Fuller Theological Seminary.

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Fieldnotes Magazine: “How To Make a Life”

FieldnotesImageStarting a career? Do you want to “help” people? The New York Times columnist David Brooks offers young adults some counter-intuitive advice in his recent, provocative article “The Way to Produce a Person.”

Mr. Brooks opens his column by pointing readers to a story in The Washington Post about a young man, Jason Trigg, who desires to help fight malaria in Africa. Trigg’s solution to the African crisis is to take his MIT degree to Wall Street, work for a hedge fund, live a simple life and give his money away. It may sound noble, but Mr. Brooks wonders if it is plausible to sustain this commitment over the long haul. And, Mr. Brooks is not convinced that it is the best way to actually assist hurting people on a different continent…

Read the rest at Fieldnotes Magazine here.

Fieldnotes Magazine is a publication of the Max De Pree Center for Leadership at Fuller Theological Seminary.

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