In a previous post, I set up this conversation that I tend to have a lot this time of year with parents of high school juniors and seniors.  Here’s the first of four things that I tend to say over and over:


There are countless books written about the topic of vision—vision for the country, world peace, a business, or a church. Let me ask, what’s your kid’s personal vision for himself or herself?

The best vision is as specific and measurable as possible. Everyone struggles with this question for their life. Most 18 – 25-year-olds struggle even more so. Most of them I talk to are impressive, and they tend to first say, “Whatever God wants.”  This should be the first answer, and I applaud it, but to get them to think more deeply, I tend to ask it this way: “If I jumped in a time traveling DeLorean and went out five years, found  a photo you took and brought it back with you, what would be in the picture?” 

I then follow up with simple questions like, Are you in a city or rural setting? Are you employed? Where? Are you married, or are you waking up alone? You are getting in a car and driving to a location at 8.30 A.M. on a Monday—is it an office? If so, to do what?

I would encourage you to have this conversation as early as possible (10th grade maybe) and re-visit it often. I remember doing the Paterson Process Thinking Wavelengths with both of my kids at this age. They are now in their mid-twenties, and we have revisited this conversation often.

So, here’s the deal…unless you are sitting on piles of cash, you may not want to haul off and finance your (or your kids’) next two decades on an education built on a foggy vision.

What lifts the cloud of vision? It is action built on self-awareness, not prayer alone, not reading alone, not studying alone but action. If your student is not actively volunteering at a local church but is voicing that he or she wants to pursue vocational ministry someday, then I’d go as far to say that this vision is not a vision at all.

Great vision is followed by a clear mission, supported by strategy, fueled by plans, and measured by metrics.  This is true of your student’s life, as well.

I suppose that if your teen was thinking about becoming a veterinarian, you’d say, “You know, honey, you should think about either getting a part-time job with a vet or just volunteer with our vet to see if you’d like it.”  My son worked a part-time job as an intern during his high school years with a single A baseball team. He’s now in his 4th season full time in baseball, moving up the ladder in professional operations.

Here’s a wrong response to a high school student who wants to go into ministry:

“Well you pray about it, and whatever the Lord wants, He will direct you.”  Don’t get take this the wrong way, you should pray about it, and the Lord will direct them. But his must be followed by action.

I’d urge you instead to encourage her to jump in, do something, volunteer, get out of high school a few hours early, and spend time in the kid’s pastor’s office. Who knows? Maybe she’ll be asked to serve as an intern there.

I’ve encountered 23-year-old students with a master’s degree from a seminary and thousands of dollars of school debt yet still unclear as ever about their vision. Now they are caught somewhere between a lack of readiness and in need of a job.

This is why we founded Leadership Pathway. We need to help fewer arrive at this point on their journeys.

Now, am I saying, your Generation Z-er, cannot move forward until they have their life fully planned? No, of course not. But, should you calibrate the investment of time, money, and distance accordingly? Yes.

Speaking of investment, the next post will cover that it doesn’t really matter which path students choose in college.