Plans thrown up in the air. Waiting for results. Honestly not knowing the answer to the question: what are you going to do next? We’re still scrambling our way through the mess brought on by the pandemic, and it can feel daunting knowing which route to take.
You’ve heard people say, ‘you’ve got this.’ But perhaps you don’t feel like you’ve got this.
Well, here’s the good news – God’s got this. He’s got you covered. Jesus is Lord over viruses, over loss, over mixed-up plans in a mixed-up world.
A year out to consider your options and press into what God has in store for you on a gap year could be just what you need. Not sure? Here are five reasons why taking a gap year could do you the world of good.
1) Gain independence
Budgeting and dealing with homesickness are just some of the life skills that will help prepare you for university or wherever you move to for work. Living away from home and your close circle of friends and family takes a bit of getting used to, but it’s in stepping out into the unfamiliar that we see things differently and grow.
2) Increase your confidence
When we do new things in an unfamiliar environment, it forces us to confront our fears and sense of inadequacy. What if I can’t manage without…? What if it doesn’t work out and I look incapable or weak? Stepping out into new terrain and doing things yourself for the first time will build your confidence – and with it, an exciting sense of what’s possible. When you ask the Holy Spirit to give you all that you need to live for God, you can trust that he’ll help you every step of the way.
3) Gain new perspectives
You can do things the way you always do when you’re at home. But when you’re part of a wider community, particularly a multicultural community, you’re introduced to new ideas and different ways of doing things.
Sometimes it’s startling, but it doesn’t hurt for our blinkered perceptions to get shaken up. To see colourful nuance in a world so often rendered in simple black and white terms. Living with people from different backgrounds helps us to accept that our way of viewing the world is one of many, and this can be a humbling experience. We don’t have to rely on our own understanding; we can lean on the Lord’s and find our place in the wonderfully diverse world he’s created.
If you ask, God will show you how you can play your part in sharing the beauty and truth of the gospel in a world fractured by sin, division and injustice.
4) Ease yourself into further education or work
Taking a year out can leave you in a more informed position to make important decisions. You can more accurately target university applications if that’s the path you decide to take because you’ll already have received your A-level grades, meaning less stress on results day. If you decide not to go to university, a year out can give you the time to map out your next steps in the workplace.
5) Develop valuable skills
At school, your academic abilities are assessed and ranked according to narrow metrics defined by educational authorities. When you leave school, employers and universities will look for a range of abilities and qualities, many of which are hard to measure in an exam room. Social, emotional and interpersonal skills – ‘soft skills’, as they are often labelled – are integral to how we flourish with the people around us.
Voluntary work and living in a community with people from diverse backgrounds, whether in the UK or overseas, are life-enhancing experiences that develop these life skills. They’re easy to overlook but vital in helping us thrive in a messy, conflicted world.
Whether you volunteer at a foodbank or experience a cross-cultural mission trip, these sorts of experiences will be great talking points at university or job interviews as well as opportunities to demonstrate how you’re the right person for the course or job.
The Inside Out Gap Year
All Nations, in collaboration with our friends at AWM Pioneers, Interserve and Latin Link, are running an exciting gap year programme starting in September 2021. It’s called Inside Out because we want you to be transformed from the inside out. Taking a year out in our multicultural community, serving alongside others doing voluntary work and experiencing cross-cultural mission will give you a chance to do all the things listed in this blog post.
Here are just some of the things you can expect:
Contribute to the ongoing ministry of a long-term team working overseas in cross-cultural ministry.
Learn about different religions, cultures and languages.
Build friendships and learn how to share your faith in different cultures.
See what it really takes to be a cross-cultural worker.
Learn and discover in our ‘En Route’ course, a ten week course that looks at topics such as ‘Who am I?’, keeping healthy in body, mind and spirit, and working as part of a cross-cultural team.