Explore Identity and Purpose

Explore Identity and Purpose

Help emerging adults discover what life is all about.
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Encourage trust in the Father's wisdom in making life decisions. It can be frustrating to journey alongside an indecisive young adult. Prodding her to make a choice or pushing him to act on a decision may produce compliance instead of responsible action. Helping a young adult develop a pattern of reliance on the Father for wisdom as they make decisions or for the power to act is therefore essential. Exercise caution here, though. As fallen creatures, we all are imperfect in discerning wisdom and in carrying out his will. Encourage humility when poor choices are made and an acceptance of life circumstances; this can help relieve the pressure young adults might feel to be perfect. And no matter what the outcome, reinforce the truth that God is for them and accompanies them on this journey.

Explore vocational and relational identity questions. Adults in their late 20s and early 30s may think they should have it all figured out by now. Singleness or a career choice that turns out to be unsatisfactory may feel like a setback for them. Help them find ways to grow in trust and lean into the Father's embrace in the midst of their questions. The ability to love and be loved is achievable no matter what one's marital status. And the potential for living purposefully exists within and outside of one's job.

Encourage proactive contentment in present life situations. Older emerging adults are in the midst of making a transition to a more concrete identity and a more settled lifestyle. They need to know that they aren't necessarily as constrained by their circumstances as they may feel. If they're not yet in a career that they think meshes completely with their sense of identity, help them listen for God's call about whether they should stay in their current job for a time or move on. Then encourage contentment in following the Father's will and relying on his wisdom, like Paul expresses in Philippians 4:11-13. Helping disciples see the hand of their Father in present circumstances can encourage them to learn the embrace of the Father as they experience the different stages of emerging adulthood.

Time to Reflect

Chart patterns to gain a clearer sense of calling. This can be a helpful reflection exercise for the both the discipler and the young adult. I (Jana) did this with Susanne when I was discipling her. For several weeks, every time Susanne and I met, we created a timeline that highlighted the ways God had moved in her life up to the present day.

Seeing his past work in her life then helped us discern how he was presently working. For example, we noted how God seemed to bring new personal growth each time she exposed herself to an experience that forced her out of her comfort zone. In addition, insights about her gifts and abilities created new understandings for us about how God had wired her as well as his purposes for her life.

Reflect on what it means to live into God's Story. Emerging adults may hesitate to commit to a direction with their life or career out of a desire to first figure out who they are or find a specific fit. In the midst of their waiting, help them understand that the story God is writing through their life is the story they are living now. He is not waiting for them to find the perfect job, relationships, or role in the church in order to use them mightily. Review the ways God is working in their present relationships and circumstances in order to help them sense purpose.

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