“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,
and all these things will be provided for you” (Matthew 6:33).
I remember the first time I heard Matthew 6:33. I was in a tiny mountain church in East Tennessee, and the 7-person choir was singing an old hymn.
“…Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you, Allelu, Alleluia…”
I remember thinking the old English sounded funny and that the ending was strange. Sadly, it was some time later before I discovered the lyrics originated in the Gospels. Matthew gives us a bit more detail, but Luke makes mention of them as well in the twelfth chapter of his Gospel. This admonishment to seek God above all is surrounded in both accounts by Jesus telling others to not worry about food, clothing, or even tomorrow. It’s one of those huge teachings that Jesus gave, that we’ve been figuring out how to apply ever since.
What about young adults seeking careers or educational paths that seemingly do not leave much time for pursuing God’s Kingdom? Is it possible that young, career-minded individuals or students are, in fact, fulfilling a “calling” by focusing 100% on their jobs or classes (Colossians 3:17, 23; 1 Corinthians 10:31)?
This is a touchy situation that needs to be clearly understood and communicated in your ministry. If I rush to answer and say no, that young adults need to cut free of the extra requirements of their job or spending those 18 hours a day studying for their future career path, I might have some families very upset with me and a boss who is contemplating my reassignment. However, what do I do with Christ’s clear teachings in Matthew 6:33?
I have tried to outline a path for our ministry here in Thibodaux, Louisiana based off two convictions.
- There is no way we can be in service to God (or doing what pleases Him) if the occupation or educational track we are on leaves no room for personal devotion time, corporate Church time, and a chance to speak with nonbelievers about who Christ is. Walt Henrichsen wrote in his discipleship book, Disciples are Made Not Born, “If you are at college [you can add in a career] for any other reason than to be a missionary for Jesus Christ, you are there for selfish, sinful reasons.” Those we work with can’t expect to cut God out of their developmental time and then later put Him back in when it is more convenient. Let’s be honest, if it is not convenient now, it never will be. What job doesn’t have you around people who need to hear truth? What ambitions are so pressing that we can’t meet with the body of Christ on Sunday morning? What class doesn’t allow for thirty minutes of personal devotion in the wee hours of the morning? When he heard excuses of busyness keeping people from reading God’s Word, Max Barnett once said: “no one ever died from one hour less of sleep”! I love his perspective.
- We must work hard to ensure that young adults aren’t creating competing “callings” that crowd out Kingdom work. Being a good student or employee is not fulfilling a calling on life, it’s just obedience. But so is reading your Bible daily, congregating with believers, and sharing the message of Christ (just to name a few)! Steve Shadrach writes about this is his book, The Fuel and The Flame. He tells about a student who was pre-med, but adopted a “good ‘nuff” approach, that God would not inquire about his GPA, as long as he did “good enough” to continue his studies. If our young adults are pursuing God in the midst of launching their careers and scholastic requirements, then they will most definitely later in life during seasons that are just as demanding.
As you think about ministering to the needs of your young adults, be conscious of how some may really be struggling with these questions. I trust you have a plan on how to communicate some response based on Matthew 6:33 and that you’re able to engage these young adults to develop sacrificial love and devotion now that will continue to bear fruit through all phases of their lives.
Conan Sherlin is the Baptist Collegiate Ministry Director at Nicholls State University in Louisiana. He lives in Thibodaux, Louisiana with his wife Christy and their four kids (Evie, Ada, Haddie, and Gilford). Connect with Conan via Twitter: @nsherlin10.