About Parental Expectations

Dear GoLiveServe,

At Urbana, I felt God’s call to go to China. He has given me a passion for reaching the lost. I want to use the gifts and abilities that He has given me to serve in China. I just got my masters degree in teaching. My job prospects here are good because I am in a high-need area; therefore, my parents want me to stay in the U.S.

How do I honor my parents if they don’t understand my desire to serve in China and still be obedient to God?


Dear Taj,

After talking to you, we understand that your professors think you are most likely among your class to get placed after you graduate. This is your parents’ strong preference for you right now, with a China job only as backup.

Logistically, if you won’t know about your job placement in the U.S. till July, but would need to commit to a job in China by April/May if they make you an offer, the idea of China being a backup won’t work.

Objectively, there is no compelling reason for you to go to China now as opposed to a year or two later when you will be a more experienced teacher. You can see the next couple of years in the U.S. as time to:

  1. prepare yourself professionally,
  2. grow spiritually,
  3. seek opportunities to work with Mainlanders, and
  4. win your parents’ understanding/support for your China interest.

This last point is important. Your family means a lot to you, which means you need to work on a new adult relationship with your parents – honoring them, appreciating their concerns for you, but gaining their trust to release you to pursue your life vocation.

There is still common ground, even when they are not believers and do not share the same core values. Demonstrate that you are trying to make sound career decisions. The key is to show them that you are not just an idealistic wide-eyed, bushy-tailed young person whom they need to protect.

Your choosing to remain in the U.S. and gain work experience will go over well with them. But don’t fail to mention the many benefits of working in China:

  • You would actually save more money working in China and live quite comfortably because of the lower standard of living.
  • You would pay off school loans much faster that way.
  • You would advance in your career faster than your fellow graduates in the U.S. too. In China, competent workers are given more responsibilities sooner, especially if they are bilingual. Our young associates in the past all build up strong resumes, and had all found good jobs when they returned to the U.S. or Canada.

These facts need to be shared to allay your parents’ fears that you are shortchanging yourself when you go to China. It takes time to change their minds, but you need to be patient and help them to see the news that bear these facts out, and to meet people who have a good career in China.

In short, we are inclined not to proceed with your China job search for the reasons given above. Please let us know what you think. But we do want to stay in touch and suggest ways for you to keep your China interest alive, and be actively preparing for the right time to go.

Things to Consider

  • What are some ways that will keep China in your orbit, grow your love and understanding of this land and its people, and prepare yourself for future service?
  • What are some things that you can do to show your love and respect for your parents in lieu of striving to meet their expectations/plan for your life?
  • What would independence look like? It is not just a physical or fiscal thing. It is also psychological and emotional.

As the Lord has placed China in your heart, we trust that our paths will cross again and we will have opportunity to meet.