We Are Asking The Wrong Question About Growing Up

What do you want to be when you Grow Up?

We ask this of children and expect the answer to be an astronaut, actor, veterinarian, etc. Rich Villodas, in his book, The Deeply Formed Life, says, “From a very early age, one of the first questions children are asked is, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” When that question is presented, we are not necessarily thinking about character or virtues; we are thinking about career, vocation, or work. It’s not a bad question, but let’s just call it what it is: we tend to be overly preoccupied with work.”

Does “Growing Up” only make us think of our preferred job or vocation? If it does, this is a problem because it doesn’t matter what kind of job I have if I enter into that job with a ruined heart that has not been transformed by Christ. I may have a respectable career but be burning with anger; stoking fear all around me; always ready to harm someone with my words; incredibly selfish; and dismissive of anyone that doesn’t meet my approval.

In my circles, we often tell college students that the world needs more Christian teachers, doctors, accountants, and counselors. But, what we are really saying is not that these students identify as Christian but that they are Christlike. This is what God wants too. Scripture says, “We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do. He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in love.”

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

I am 46 years old and I have figured out what I want to be when I Grow Up. I want to have the compassion of Jesus; the servant heart of Jesus; to speak with Biblical authority like Jesus; to see like Jesus; to forgive like Jesus; to pray like Jesus; to resist Satan like Jesus; to love those around me like Jesus; to welcome others like Jesus. I don’t need a degree or credential to do these things. I don’t need a title to do these things or a big salary or an office. In fact, some of those things will get in the way of Growing Up to be like Jesus.

Maybe I should have chosen a different name for this blog that doesn’t conjure up images of careers, vocational interests, and uniforms. The Growing Up that I need to do, and all of us need to do, is to become the person that Christ would be if he were you. The manager that Christ would be if he were you. The secretary that Christ would be if he were you. The librarian that Christ would be if he were you. The stay-at-home mom that Christ would be if he were you. The Pastor that Christ would be if he were you. The maintenance person that Christ would be if he were you. 

You can’t get there unless you Grow Up. Today, let Christ start to transform your heart and behavior. Let him work out His life in you from the inside out so that there is no question what kind of person you are. Read the Gospels and let the message of Christ dwell in you richly and then ask yourself:

Who do you want to be when you Grow Up?

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