What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

By Dave Steel

Remember when you were a kid and people would ask you, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Maybe like me you hated that question, because you had no idea what career you wanted to pursue as a child. Other kids were sure they wanted to be a doctor, a fire-fighter, or an astronaut. Not me. I even waited until the last minute to declare my major in college. Eventually, my fixation with college life was disrupted by the reality that I had to choose a degree if I wanted to return the next semester. Even then, it would be another three years before I could answer with any conviction what I wanted to be when I grew up.  

Sooner or later, we’re all faced with the question, What do I want to be when I grow up?

Even more important than the vocational version of that question is the spiritual version: What do I want to be when I grow up spiritually? Assuming you’re still growing spiritually, what kind of person do you want to be—what kind of person do I want to be—a few years from now? Do you ever think about that?

Jesus said, “The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.” So, for those of us who have decided to follow Jesus, growing up spiritually means becoming the kind of person he is.

One way we can pursue this vision of spiritual adulthood is to pour over the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), studying Jesus’ convictions, his character, and his conduct, prayerfully seeking to be transformed into his likeness. It’s a great way to get to know Jesus better and to get a clearer picture of what you’ll be when you grow up. For years, I’ve been wearing out my copy of The NIV Harmony of the Gospels with this purpose in mind. (Have I mentioned that knowing what I want to be when I grow up hasn’t come easy to me?) You may want to try this spiritual discipline yourself.

Several years ago, I asked my preschool son what he wanted to be when he grew up. “A trash man!” he answered enthusiastically. Every trash day, the biggest truck my son had ever seen would pull up to our house, announced by the impressive growl of a powerful engine and popping of air-brakes. Inside, the trash man who controlled this enormous Tonka Truck made a giant hydraulic arm grab our trash can and dump its unwanted contents into the bed of that massive vehicle. The whole time, my son’s attention was riveted to this spectacle, sometimes causing him to break into a dance of excitement. No wonder he wanted to be a garbage truck driver when he grew up!

Spiritually speaking, what do you want to be when you grow up? What vision of the future “you” has captured your attention?

“Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).