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When I Grow Up

Being raised in Sydney is such an incredible privilege. It’s a land so full of freedom and opportunity. So much so, that from as little as 5 or 6, we are encouraged to complete this sentence:

“When I grow up, I want to be ____”

I remember answering that I wanted to become an “animal doctor”. My friends aspired to hairdressing, teaching, and firefighting. There was even a boy whose dream job was to become a “stay at home dad.” We didn’t care what others thought, and we couldn’t care less about the consequences of getting there. The question taught us to dream big, and adults praised our ambition.

It was an exercise that celebrated the freedom we have to choose our vocation.

But as we grew older and ‘wiser’, we realised that we had to work for this freedom. We studied hard to go to university, and we studied harder to excel in university. We engaged in societies, volunteer work, and the extra curricular to clothe our naked resumes.

And I’m certain for some Christians, we would find greater peace in having a job at the end of our degree than to have a Saviour who is with us for eternity.

We are saturated in the thinking that vocation is monumental. It’s the first thing we share about ourselves. It’s where we pour our ambition. It’s the default recipient of all our hard work.

It is also a terrible master to please.

We scoff at Arts degrees, and beg God for better career prospects. While our friends race ahead in their careers, we feel left behind. It ruins us when our hard work produces thorns and thistles.

But work and career- or even ambition aren’t bad things. The freedom we have in Australia is good. It’s our idolatry that’s bad.

God has spoken to us to where ambitions should placed instead:

 “For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore whoever rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit. Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each another. And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your own hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and that you will not be dependent on anybody.” 1 Thessalonians 4:7-12 (NIV)

The saving work of Christ gives us new ambitions. We may feel ‘called’ to a certain vocation, but we can be certain that God calls us to holiness. Not only is that turning away from our sinful desires, but also it’s a turning towards loving the people around us. In fact- Paul is encouraging us to love as much as we can. There is no limit to how much we can love, and the fruit of love is far more rewarding and eternal than any career progression.

Furthermore we are commanded to make it our ambition to live a respectable life-which means working well in our jobs! Normally our ambitions are placed in the type of job we do. But our ambition should really be to do a good job.

I truly believe that the freedom we have to choose our vocation is a great thing- and we should all use it well. But I want to see my brothers and sisters pursue a far greater ambition; to hear our Father in heaven say “well done, good and faithful servant.”

I pray to God that we would be His children who aren’t afraid to answer:

“When I grow up, I want to be holy.”

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