You’ve embarked on four (or more) years of study. What will you do with your years in college?
Does God care what I major in?
We talked to a few different people about this one. The answer we heard most was “Yes and no.” Now, rest assured that this does not result in a “Maybe.” Far from it. As with many such questions, the answers aren’t always simple and clear. The people we talked to were happy to help clarify the question and offer some insight.
Tom Boyle, InterVarsity’s Director of Staff Development and Training, and former Director of Student Life and Development at Fresno State, said, “Of course God cares. But it won’t make or break your relationship with him if you change majors. He is far more interested in the content of your character than your academic specialization. He can and will use experiences in college in a variety of ways, but there is not one template you must follow.”
Others we talked to agreed. “God is totally interested in your choice,” said Jon Boyd, graduate of the University of Michigan and Johns Hopkins University and soon to become a teacher at North Park University in Chicago. “But any major is useful; in fact if you limit your choices to a subset that someone thinks God approves, your God is far too small.”
Well, there’s freedom in those responses. But wait, there’s more to this than settling back and deciding, “Oh, good, I can just stay where I am and enjoy the ride.” Freedom brings along its companions, creativity and stewardship. “You’re free to pick something that fits you and matches who you are,” added Jon, “but that doesn’t let you off the hook to wonder what God could do with you and that major. God is building his kingdom and that takes all kinds of majors. Do we need Christians in the advertising industry? You bet! But not just to make money.” A follower of Jesus can start to imagine ways marketing through the lens of faith can impact culture, and then go for it. Of anyone on campus, Christian students can be the most engaged with their majors.
A teacher we talked to pointed out that many people she knows now have jobs that have little to do with their major, at least on the surface. “But if you think about it,” she said, “most of those people are using the skills their majors developed in them.” People in pre-med, education, pre-law and similar majors often stick with that track into graduate or professional school. Others, often liberal arts majors, end up in a huge variety of careers, and it often takes several jobs before they settle into anything long-term.
So, does God care? Sometimes the motivation behind this part of the question is worry. We want to “get it right.” We want to please God, and so we worry about making the right choices (sometimes because we have faulty views of God). The question can become “Are some majors more blessed than others?” (We’ll respond to this one more fully in a future Good Question, but the spoiler is essentially, no, all majors have a valid place in the grand scheme of things.)
Does God have much to say about majors in the Bible? The universities of western European civilization (and their modern-day cafeterial-style version) weren’t around at the time the Bible came together. But there were systems of higher education, and Daniel’s experience is worth reading (see Daniel 1 for his freshman week experience!). What is most apparent throughout the Bible is God’s concern that we learn to “act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8. Wisdom is more important than knowledge (see Proverbs 2:1-10). Walking with God is about joyfully being who we can be as faith-filled people in whatever major we choose. We can’t spend all our time spinning our wheels trying to figure it all out. Tom Boyle said, “Choosing a major is one of those moments when God lets us choose. He will often surround our choice with evidence and input that will suggest certain directions, but he will not choose for us. We get to do that.”
So, God does care what we major in, because he’s interested in us and our growth in wisdom. Our majors, whatever they are, allow us to focus on one part of the amazing world God created and to address that area with creativity for the sake of his kingdom.