Wednesday, February 13, 2013

What should I do after University?

"Picture this: you're an up-and-coming manager with a FTSE company. In light of your stellar performance, your employer offers you a promotion. On the table sits more responsibility and a 25% raise. The catch? You have to move to another city 300 miles away."

Oliver Balch had a fascinating article in The Guardian on Monday on the importance of relationships to business and life. It begins with a senario. What would you do?

It's a real prospect for many students I work with, if you fast forward the clock a few years. The air breathed by today's student says go to London, follow the Money.

Balch draws on Michael Schluter's views in his article to suggest a different approach.
Relationships, Schluter argues, are what make humans tick. We feel better, work better, live better when our personal relationships are in sync.... For Schluter, the importance of relationships goes back to the Bible. The Christian notion of God, expressed through the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is an intrinsically relational concept.
Rings true for me. We're made for relationships. There's nothing wrong with moving location for work - I've done it twice in the last 12.5 years since I graduated, but each time it was hardest because of friendships it meant tearing apart - at work and church and beyond.  My advice to students is to invest in relationships so that it will hurt - otherwise in a highly mobile society we'll just pursue superficiality for the sake of self-protection...  but it might also mean we choose to bear the cost in different areas to protect those relationships.

What Schluter's observations might lead us to do is to at least ask the question - to think should I stay here for the people. If I'm a Christian student at Exeter University student should I stay and get a potentially less interesting and less financially rewarding "Devon job" and build my church rather than presuming that my future is either rent-free back with my parents or chasing a graduate job in London. The flipside of this is that there is a desperate need for Christians in business, media, academia etc. But the prevailing winds blow it that direction already...  I'm not prescribing a way, but asking some questions.

Either way a value system is shaping my decision, consciously or subconsciously... I'm valuing people, or money, or success, or something... The gods of our age aren't likely to tell us to prioritise our existing relationships - though we know deep down that those things matter hugely to us.


  1. Good post, Bish.

    I guess the call needs to be more generally that decisions are made with the kingdom in view. If places that are 'church rich' merely retain those who are already there, the gap between 'church rich' and 'church poor' areas will just continue to grow.

  2. Working out what "kingdom in view" looks like is the challenge, but I hope people might at least query the assumption of advancing their career and the graduate job focus (though some really should pursue that!), and consider where can I best build for church. For a South West student the impact they could have if they stay is vast. As an example, My pastor was converted at Uni, and at 27 became senior pastor of our church... Burned his career prospects but really invested in people, in mission, and in reaching people where there's a strong need. Elsewhere in the South West the case is probably even stronger - and probably the same in the North.