L3: Listen, Learn, Lead

United Campus Ministry’s main program is L3, an initiative supported by the Lilly Endowment Inc. to guide students in conversations about vocation and spirituality.

Think about the many questions students face on a regular basis as they complete their higher education goals:

  • What’s next for me?
  • What kind of career path or vocation will excite and challenge me?
  • How do I know I am making good choices about my future?
  • How will I integrate my faith or spirituality into my workplace?
  • What can I do to make this world a better place?

L3 invites young leaders to share in these kinds of conversations, network with other leaders in their fields who integrate spirituality and work, discern their future and calling, ask serious, difficult questions about life, faith, and our world, and experience God’s love.

Selected students will serve as interns, help shape semester activities and events, and receive a stipend to support their learning goals.

Student Thoughts About L3

Society pushes young people to find an occupation, but there is little thought about the marriage of faith and work. One of my favorite T.V. shows is Ballykissangel, a 1990s British drama set in a small Irish village. As irrelevant as this fact may seem to L3, I think that one of the characters, a Catholic priest, epitomizes the contemporary conceptualization of calling. He explains that his parents expected him to find an occupation and implies that they were slightly taken aback by his finding a Christian vocation instead. This anecdote exemplifies the imaginary discrepancy between occupation and vocation. Furthermore, this scenario implies that one only has a vocation if he or she joins the clergy and suggests that serving the Lord may be a slightly undesirable profession, which, obviously, it is not.

I believe that there are two major societal changes that need to occur to help young people. First, a new definition of vocation needs to be developed. Having a vocation does not necessitate joining the clergy. Rather, vocation, in keeping with the idea of a providential call, means identifying one’s God-given gifts and using them for good. Furthermore, people need to stop pretending that every college student has his or her life planned out. Society has become so goal-oriented that students randomly select goals, and then discuss behind closed (dorm room) doors how terrified they are about their futures.

The aim of L3 is to inspire students to have honest conversations about their future and include faith in those discussions. As someone without a defined plan for my future, I often feel like a minority among peers who claim to have grandiose plans, and as a Christian, I feel compelled to discover that which God would have me do. I believe that L3 will be a medium for self-discovery for me and any students of faith at the University of Maryland.

Courtney Steininger