The Bible is full of encouragement for us, helping us to understand how important we are to God and offering plain counsel on how we should live (e.g., John 3:16; Zephaniah 3:17; 1 Peter 5:6–7; Psalm 86:15; Philippians 2:1–11; Colossians 3:17, 23). The Bible helps us understand and make sense of our relationships, our work, our school, and the like. When confronted with natural times of transition such as graduating from high school or college, changing jobs, or moving to a new community, we can have confidence that God cares and is attending to our needs. More importantly, we can have assurance that God draws near to us when we draw near to Him (James 4:8). The short answer to the question of what you should do after graduation is “draw near to God,” but it takes a little context for that advice to make sense.
It is okay to not have all the answers. Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived (1 Kings 3:3–15; 4:30; 10:1–9), raised many questions in the book of Ecclesiastes, answered most of them, and then offered a final conclusion about life. He said that all people should “fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). To fear God is to have great reverence for Him. It is to approach Him like the King that He is (Ecclesiastes 5:1), but also to believe that He is a loving father (Luke 15). When we draw near to God through reading the Word and prayer, He reveals to us who He is and what He does; then we can understand what His will is for the world and for us. By drawing near to God we can learn what we should do next.
Jesus invites us to understand what it means to trust Him. He says to us all, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Mathew 11:28–30). He wants us to come to Him. He knows we are tired and anxious. He knows well enough to give us what we need. He uses the imagery of a yoke, a large wooden harness that holds two animals side by side, to help us understand that He is with us. A yoke enables two animals, oxen or horses or cattle, to pull together in the same direction. It is normal to have an older and wiser animal paired with a younger, untested animal so that the older can carry the larger burden while teaching the younger how to succeed. This is how Jesus is with us. He makes our yoke light by pulling most of the weight Himself.
Not only do we have this invitation to be with Jesus, but we also have been given freedom to live freely (Galatians 5:1; James 1:25), we have been given the mind of Christ to help us make decisions (1 Corinthians 2:16), and we have been given the Holy Spirit to guide us and teach us (John 16:13). These provisions from God are intended to provide us with a knowledge of who He is and what He does and to guide us in how we can respond.
If you want to know what you should do after graduation, consider the love of God revealed in His statements about who you are and who you are designed to be. You have been created by God with great care and wonder, all the days of your life are designed by God, and He thinks often and well of you (Psalm 139:13–18). You have the fingerprints of God all over you, having been created as His workmanship, designed to do good works (Ephesians 2:10). So go and do.
You have been designed to do good works for God’s glory and to help other people. Consider this: Jesus and His adoptive earthly father were carpenters. Many followers of Jesus were fishermen. Others were tent makers, tax collectors, Roman soldiers, and Jewish leaders. There is no right profession, and, so long as it is not a question of morality, there is no wrong one. Thus, as you are considering what you might do after graduation—whether you should take this job or that one, move to a new city or stay in your home town, continue in school or start a small business—seek out the answer that positions you to best be able to love God by loving others.
Practically speaking, take the following steps: first and most importantly, read the Bible and pray. Talk to God and receive His wise counsel. Draw near to Him. Second, seek the counsel of those who love God and love you. Their advice matters a great deal (Proverbs 15:22). Third, reflect on the past and make a list of the times you have been invited to serve others, maybe to lead a Bible study or help someone with his schoolwork, or to be the captain of a sports team, sing at a wedding, or write for a blog. This will help you to learn what other people believe you are good at. Fourth, make a list of whom you love to love. Do you cry when you see a homeless man? Do you want to save high school students from peer pressure? Do you wish it were possible that ladies in nursing homes never felt lonely? These and similar questions about God and other people will help you discover that it is not necessarily about what you should do, but rather whom you could serve. Somewhere in there is the beginning of the road you are seeking.
What should you do with your life after you graduate? Live your life before God with great reverence for who He is and what He does, and then go and love others. Give yourself permission to make mistakes, trusting that God works all things for the good of those who love Him, those who are called by Him (Romans 8:28). And, whatever you do, be reminded of this: “Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1).