If you have no idea what you want to do with your life, you’re not alone.
That was me. Ten years ago.
I showed up at college on registration day. I signed up for the Intercultural Studies program because I had recently met someone who was working as a missionary in South Africa—and she left me inspired to do something similar.
At my best, I wanted to make a difference in the world. At my worst, I wanted to travel the world and get financially supported to do so. In reality, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.
Three years later, I stepped off a plane in Nagoya, Japan for my summer internship. I had an overstuffed backpack and a rudimentary knowledge of how to use chopsticks, which was taught to me by an elderly woman on the plane only a few hours earlier. I didn’t even know how to say “hello” in Japanese.
I spent the next two months with the pastor of a local church plant and his family. He taught me how to say “hello” in Japanese—and a few other words that would help me with my order at Mister Donut. He asked me to read a book on preaching and another book on the gospel. He showed me what day-to-day life for him was like. He shared about his failures and successes. He told me about his love for the people of Japan and why he wanted to do this for the rest of his life.
Somewhere in between those conversations, while I was sitting in a Starbucks near my apartment in Japan, the thought occurred to me for the very first time: “I want to be a pastor.” I didn’t really care where I was a pastor. I just knew with sudden urgency that I wanted to be one.
Even though that wasn’t my degree program, God had used my time at college to prepare me for that role. Bible, ministry, and leadership courses had been part of the required curriculum for all students. I had participated in student-led worship and teaching nights. God had placed professors and other students in my life who had challenged me to pursue what God wanted for me. He had been preparing me to be a pastor all through college, and it just took a Starbucks in Japan to make me realize it.
College isn’t just for people who have a ten-year life plan—which, if we’re honest, was probably made by their parents. It’s also for people who have no idea what they want to do with their lives.
If you’re even barely thinking about ministry, one of the best choices you can make is to go to a college where you’ll have a community of students and professors who can help you discern how God might be calling you. The Ministry Leadership Program at Milligan College is designed to do just that; to walk with you through these formative years and to help discern God’s call for your life.
I hope that it won’t take going to a Starbucks in Japan to figure it out.
Austin Gohn serves as a ministry coach for Milligan’s MLP Program, where he mentors and teaches current ministry students. He is the Young Adults Minister at Bellevue Christian Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and has a M.Div. from Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pennsylvania. After writing for several blogs and publications, Austin recently released a book entitled, A Restless Age: How Saint Augustine Helps You Make Sense of Your Twenties. He is married to Julie and they have a son named, Levi. You can learn more about Austin here.