Thursday, September 23, 2010

Follow the Money

A few weeks I ago, I found this article on Yahoo's front page about the 20 Worst Paying College Degrees this past year which got me thinking about money issues and vocation.

As I looked over the list, it actually made me really sad for our society and what we value. The first sentence of the article says it all: "If you want to avoid the worst-paying college degrees, think twice before choosing a college major that involves children." Beyond industries with children, food and health, jobs took the second biggest hit followed by the art industry and then religion.

It seems to me that these four areas are some of the most important things in our lives so why are they so undervalued when it comes to what people are willing to pay for them?

The fact that teachers and child service people are underpaid is nothing new. It's always been that way but yet these people are crucial to our culture and society. Our children are the leaders of tomorrow and we need to be pouring into them, loving them and helping them become the men and women that God has destined them to be. Without the teachers that you had in childhood, where would you be now?

The food industry surprised me to be honest, especially in light of the push over the last couple years about getting America healthier. Why is our health and nutrition something we take so lightly? America is insanely over weight as a nation and the health of many people is a grave concerned. Scripture talks about our bodies as the Temple of God and many of us don't take care of them the way we should...myself included on that one!

The last two weren't much of a surprise but yet are so important and undervalues within our culture. For more about the importance of art I'd encourage you to check out an article Melissa just wrote for RelevantMagizine.com called: Why Art Should Matter to Christians. When it comes to religious studies, we really need people in life who have taken the time and energy to understand God and His Word. People like Moses, Samuel, Elijah, Peter and Paul all represent this field. Where would we be with church and religion without them?

Now that I have taken enough time to wax on about these under appreciated fields, what do we do with this?

First, I think there needs to be a reminder to all of us that money isn't everything in life.

In Matthew 6:19-20, Jesus says, "Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal."

The article has a tone of "don't go into these fields" but I would argue that making less money to invest in areas like the above are so important and worth it in the end. Our jobs are #12 and #13 on that list  but we wouldn't trade that for anything. Sure, things get tight every so often and we talk about how it would be nice for one of us to make $100,000 a year but when we really get down to it, 1) we'd rather do what we love and 2) we understand the value of what we're doing in other people's lives. This can be a huge point of tension within a marriage and relationship, as we have learned, so it's important as a couple to set our priorities on supporting one another in our passions and skill set rather than just what brings in a paycheck.

The second thing I think we need to do with this information is realize that these positions are so under- paid and under-valued because we have allowed certain industries to be more important in society and others to be less important. The more we spend and drive a market the more focus and attention is going to be put there. That's where the business saying "follow the money" comes from.

As Christians, we need to follow something (or someone) else and that's Jesus and the things He stands for. That's not to say that other jobs or markets aren't important but we need to think critically about how we support those industries and how it compares to things that you could argue are of greater importance in life.

Jesus goes on to say in Matthew 5:21 that, "Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be." By taking some time to explore your spending habits as a couple, will help bring the things we really treasure to greater light - as a society, families and as individuals.

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The goal is to provide three things:
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