Which is it? “Money makes the world go ’round” or “All you need is love”? Two well-known songs bring to mind the constant interplay or balance that even Jesus knew was difficult. We hear Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount with the oft-quoted: “You cannot serve God and wealth.” (Matthew 6:24 NRSV) Why else would Jesus teach such a specific lesson if he didn’t know what a challenge it can be? So, as you are about to embark upon full-fledged adulthood, what do you do? You need to pay back those student loans. You’ve scrimped and saved and sacrificed for four (or more) years. You deserve the “American Dream” just like everyone else. Well, it really isn’t that easy. There are jobs that pay a lot of money, but make us miserable. There are jobs that allow us to barely get by, but allow us to feel like we are truly contributing. There are jobs that are callings – inspiring and fulfilling – regardless of how much the paycheck provides.
After graduate school, I chose to go for the high-paying, high stress job because: 1) I had loans to pay back; 2) all my friends were taking similar types of jobs; and 3) I couldn’t find a job right away in what I perceived was my “calling” (lower paying public sector work). It wasn’t very long before I was miserable – regardless of the great paycheck, I wasn’t given challenging work and I was working with many people who were motivated by much different things. However, instead of wallowing in my misery (and being ashamed of such a quick job change), I floated my resume out to serve a new public-sector administration. Despite being a HUGE long-shot, I was given a dream job. Even though the pay was peanuts, the hours were onerous, and the stress was steep, I was able to keep paying back my loans, live a modest life, and stay involved with church, friends, and community projects. The job later opened up the possibility of another, better paying job/career. That new career allowed me to pay off my loans and, eventually, realize that God was calling me completely away from my well-established career into full-time ministry. Did I ever imagine that would happen all those years before when I, stubbornly, decided it was possible to serve both God and wealth? Nope. But God laughs whenever we make plans that stubbornly refute God’s teachings . . .
God calls us – both professionally and personally. In all walks of our life, God calls us to a way of using our talents and training and passions and personality that allows our lights to shine so that others may see our good works and glorify God. That, brothers and sisters, is a calling. Money is merely a symbol and a somewhat helpful means to an end as we pursue our calling(s). Everything about today’s world teaches us that money is so critical that a good life, a good love, a good career is impossible without it. I want you to rest assured the money thing will always work out if you follow God’s call on your life for a vocation that truly lets your light shine.
“What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with GETTING, so you can respond to God’s GIVING. People who don’t know God and the way God works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how God works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” Matthew 6: 30-34 (The Message)
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