by FRANKLIN NORTON
Director of Advancement
The transition from high school graduation to young adulthood is both exciting and tumultuous. With childhood in the rearview mirror, suddenly the world opens up—full of its possibilities, dangers, blessings, and curses. The questions of identity and purpose are preeminent: who am I and what am I supposed to do? For the first time in our lives there is no charted course, no parental controls, and we often find ourselves disoriented. It’s important where we land.
As we seek to answer these existential questions of our own humanity, the world itself reveals to us the remedies it can offer: approval, success, influence, love. St. Augustine, the patron saint of restless hearts, recounts his own experience in his Confessions, writing that, “as I became a youth, I longed to be satisfied with worldly things, and I dared to grow wild in a succession of various and shadowy loves.”
For many young Christians, these various and shadowy loves that the world offers take root, making faith obsolete, left behind in the rearview mirror with the rest of their childhood. Recent data shows that nearly two-thirds of young adults leave the church after high school graduation, and this statistic only gets more drastic as the rising generation becomes increasingly apathetic toward religion.
When Zachary Moir graduated from Covenant last year, this tension between worldly offerings and heavenly goods created a crisis. Zach went to Covenant School from kindergarten through graduation, and played soccer competitively throughout his childhood, ultimately winning the Kentucky Youth Soccer Association’s President’s Cup with his team. When it came to moving forward, soccer was at the forefront of his mind.
“I was putting all my identity in soccer,” Moir sighed. “When some asked ‘who am I,’ I would say that I’m a soccer player.”
This crisis of identity is common in young adults, and increasingly common in the upcoming generation. In fact, generational studies from Barna Group indicate the rising generation, Gen Z, is more driven by personal achievement than previous generations, with their sense of self strongly tied to professional and academic achievement as well as in their various hobbies and pastimes, like soccer.
Moir decided that playing soccer was his primary goal, and so he chose a college he thought would set him up for success on the field.
“It never felt totally right going there,” Moir explained. “I think I was putting too much weight on something that wasn’t guaranteed. I put all my eggs in one basket. I didn’t care about the academics, I didn’t care about the town I lived in, I just wanted to play. I think subconsciously I knew it wasn’t right.”
Moir described the loneliness of this decision, knowing deep down this wasn’t what he wanted, but swayed by the desire to continue the game he’d committed his life to. After the first several weeks of college, he struggled to find community, especially a community of faith. He disliked the town in which he was living in, and felt that he wasn’t being academically challenged. All he had was soccer.
After several weeks of living in this tension, he remembers asking himself: “Does this really matter? Am I doing anything here that is actually meaningful?”
“I felt like I wasn’t becoming a better person” Moir reflected. “I was either staying the same or getting worse.”
He reached out to former teachers and mentors from Covenant for advice, trusting their wisdom and experience for guidance.
“I think having hard conversations with [Mr. Norton] or Dr. Wylie has made me realize what’s more important. I love soccer and I’m going to play it as long as I can, but if that’s not God’s plan I’m to the point finally where I’m comfortable with that.”
He knew the life he was living was not the life he was meant to live, so he resigned from the university team and came home. During this time of transition, Moir began reaching out to college soccer programs he had formerly been in contact with. When Covenant College’s Coach Scott Bosgraf responded, Moir knew better things were ahead.
“I remember Coach Bosgraf responded immediately and he called me and I knew that I was moving on to something way better,” Moir said. “He was serious about wanting me to be there for more than just soccer.”
After a year of angst and identity crises, Moir landed in the only place of certainty: the Gospel.
“I’m able to answer the important questions,” Moir said. “I had someone ask me recently what my goal was. People would ask me that before and I would have no idea what to answer. Before it would have been, ‘I want to play soccer.’ But now it’s, ‘I want to be living in God’s plan for my life and I want to be the best person I can be in living fully for God. My goal is to live for Christ instead of living for soccer.”He credits his time at Covenant for helping him navigate the complex decisions from the last year, thankful for caring adults who want the best for him. He sees how his classes, relationships, and experiences have influenced the person he is becoming.
“I’ve made relationship with my teachers and mentors at Covenant that are going to help me progress and do extremely well in the future because I have their support. You really don’t realize how important your Covenant education is getting is until you’re gone.”