One of the most valuable aspects of Impact 360 Institute’s Gap Year is in helping our students wrestle with vocation. “Vocation” doesn’t just mean a paid job that one does. Rather, it is a biblical concept that conveys a deep understanding of service to both God and neighbor. A vocation is a station of service where someone can effectively live out the great commandment (love of God) and the second that is like it (love of neighbor).
But how, you might ask, does an 18 year old begin to get an accurate sense of what that vocation should be? First, we all serve in many vocations simultaneously. One of the books that our students read points out that we are workers, family members, church members, and citizens. Each of these “stations” is a vocation. Second, regarding how a young person is to begin to discern a legitimate vocation for which he or she can be paid, we have a unique student coaching culture that includes a career assessment and intentional coaching. The Strong Interest Inventory is a widely used and highly respected career assessment that many colleges and universities have employed in their career services departments.
After taking this instrument and the exercises that went with it, many of our students and alumni have come away with new insights about how they are wired and what they might explore that they have never considered in the past. One of our young ladies exclaimed “I’ve always thought that running my own business sounded exciting, but I dismissed the idea because I just didn’t think that was realistic. But now I am energized about exploring that option!” That is what this part of Impact 360’s Gap Year is intended to do—to encourage students to take an honest look at who God has designed them to be, and then explore where He might lead them based on that design. Of course, we cannot see into the future and we do not claim to know where God is leading each of our students. But we can help set them on the right path of deep self-understanding as they continue their college studies and ultimately make life-changing decisions before they graduate.