What Ought I To Do With My Life?

Lindsey Jodts, Groups Pastor, South Barrington | June 3, 2024

“As for you, son of man, your people are talking together about you by the walls and at the doors of the houses, saying to each other, ‘Come and hear the message that has come from the Lord.’ My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to hear your words, but they do not put them into practice. Their mouths speak of love, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain. Indeed, to them you are nothing more than one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well, for they hear your words but do not put them into practice.
Ezekiel 33:30-32

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
2 Corinthians 5:17

“The deepest vocational question is not, ‘What ought I to do with my life?’ It is the more elemental and demanding, ‘Who am I? What is my nature?”’ Parker Palmer, Let Your Life Speak.

We often ask young people, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Depending on their age and disposition, the answer could be anywhere from firefighter to unicorn to music teacher. While this is, in theory, a great question to start getting to know a young person, when vocation for vocation’s sake is the entirety of the conversation, the message is clear: all that matters is what you do. 

In his book Let Your Life Speak, Parker Palmer takes a contemplative approach to understanding that vocation is less about your title and more about who you are as you do it. Goals are lovely, and finding a vocation that you are passionate about matters, but what about the kind of person you are becoming as you embrace it?

The prophet Ezekiel called out the Israelites for going through the motions of their lives and their worship and not integrating the two. They checked the boxes of believers—attending services, talking about the messages, singing songs of worship—but in their daily lives, they were no different than those around them. They weren’t living what they learned. 

Later in Scripture, the apostle Paul declares that anyone who is in Christ is made a new creation in Jesus. Anyone grafted into the family of God has been transformed into the likeness of Christ, fully embracing the image of God written into each of us at creation. 

So that brings us back to the questions Palmer poses instead: “Who am I? What is my nature?”

If you believe the words of Paul to be true, then your nature is that of Christ. Your personhood is that of a child of the most high God. Who you are is a beloved, intentionally created, gifted, and blessed member of the Kingdom of Jesus. The truths and blessings of what this means are found throughout Scripture—from the praises of Psalms to the challenges of the prophets to the blessings of Jesus. 

It’s more than coming to church, singing a song, and returning to your life. Answering the question, “What ought I to do with my life?” with the truths of who we are in Jesus means that every piece of our lives can and should bear the sacred image of God—our work, our homes, and everywhere else. 

Next Steps

Spend time in prayer asking God, “What is true about who I am?” then listen for a response (try journaling what comes to mind). Then reflect on how you can live out those truths in your daily life more fully.