What to Expect: Life Purpose

o Have your goals and purposes changed because of the time you spent in the U.S.?

o Are you worried that your family and friends will disagree with the purposes and goals you have set for yourself?

When you left to study in the U.S., most everyone knew that your goal was to earn your degree from an American university. Perhaps many of them also knew why you wanted this particular degree from this particular institution. When you return, they will assume your next goal is to use the education you got to further your career. While you probably do have that goal, it might no longer have first place in your heart based on your experience in the U.S. Or your goals may have changed in a different direction during your studies.

After all the time, money and effort you put into earning your degree from an American university, you will need to think about your choices very carefully. For example, can you use your education to make a difference in your chosen career field in a way that you had not expected? Or can you use the skills you acquired in a different field that fits more closely with your new life purpose?

Perhaps you had originally planned to return home and make as much money as you could, moving up the corporate ladder quickly. But now you may not feel that making a lot of money and having all the worldly comforts are the most important priorities. In order to reflect your new order of priorities, you might need to make some adjustments to your schedule. You can talk about your most important priorities a lot, but people will decide what your priorities really are based on what they see. Someone said “show me your calendar and your checkbook and I’ll tell you where your priorities lie.” That simply means that you will spend the bulk of your time and money on the things that mean the most to you. Make sure that the choices you make back home reflect the most important things in your life.

If your family expects you to work 60-80 hours per week because career and financial success have a high priority, they might not agree with your decision to limit your work hours because you want to fellowship with other Christians or volunteer with a church or ministry. Likely, your words will not convince them that you have made a wise choice. They will need to see how your new priorities have a positive affect on your life before they will accept your decision—and maybe not even then.

You will need to accept the fact that some people will not understand how or why your purposes have changed. While you will not have to defend yourself to everyone, you will need to respectfully explain and then accept your differences if elders and family members question or criticize your choices. You have a responsibility to certain people in your life, and you must maintain that, but you must decide how you can make it work with the new priorities and purposes you have for your life.