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Most Parents did have a purpose for their children’s lives, but this purpose was not maturity in Jesus Christ. Their purpose was for their purpose was for their children to be “happy.” And what exactly was necessary for their children to achieve this elusive goal? To enable their children to attain happiness, parents in our community tended to push their children into high-stress combinations of college preparatory courses, extracurricular activities, and specialized sports programs. the parents’ driving assumption was that these experiences were essential for their children to get into good colleges, which would result in good jobs, which would enable the children to achieve the same high standards of material living as their parents, which would in turn make the children—you guessed it, happy.
What these parents did not know is that these same students walked into our offices or met us at coffee shops to tell us, “My parents are rich, important, successful—and miserable. I don’t want their life. Help me find something better!”
-Jay Strother, “Family-Equipping Ministry: Church and Home as Cochampions” in Perspectives on Family Ministry: 3 Views, ed. Timothy Paul Jones (Nashville,TN: B&H Academics, 2009), 147.
The above video tells of a coming problem with undergraduate education. In short, return is no greater than what is spent on investment. Men and women put themselves in tremendous debt to get a job that may take a long time to pull themselves out of. The investment of specialized education is not paying off.
Many things play into this. But here are two big things that I have seen as possible contributors.
1. The assumption that one has to go to college.
It is just the assumption that one has to go to a four year college right after high school. The problem is that many are just pushed into college out of tradition and imagined success without ever seeing how they are suppose to use it.
Investing in a college degree is suppose to give one a more favorable return later in life from all the money and time spent to obtain it. If I spend $60,000 and four years of my life I want something greater in return for my money and time. I am not donating it to some philosopher’s idea about “education.” I love to learn and would love to read all kinds of history books and such but there is a biblical aspect of life called taking responsibility for myself and for providing for others (1 Thess. 4:9-12). Because of that I do not consider it a good stewardship of time to pay large amounts of money and spend several years for more advance studies just so that I can take “advanced studies.” And the fact of the matter is, if I want advanced English, History, and such I can probably get it for free off the internet. And another fact that is becoming more apparent is that the free stuff might be better than the stuff found in a $800 class. My time spent at a college is not a donation of money but an investment. I want a return for my time and money that will help be a better provider to those around me.
But it is easy to enter college with a tradition or entitlement mentality instead of an investment mentality. Everyone is suppose to get a college education as the thinking goes. So people enter college obtaining their “right” but with little idea as to how to use their “right.” So they just float through college never landing on what they want to actually use their “right” for. Some may say that it is just innocent exploring. I am for exploring as well. But if I had $60,000 and four years I think I would want to do some exploring of rugged mountain and woodlands in far away places. That is my idea of exploring! But more seriously, if there is some exploring to do why don’t you try to start a business with a quarter of that money? Way more adventurists and educational. Throwing tens of thousands of dollars to a college just to “explore” is, again, in my opinion, not wise stewardship. If someone is going to invest the money and time that God has given them they need to know what they are investing in.
2. Self-centered view of career.
“Find a career that is self-fulfilling,” the saying goes. But is this the biblical vision of finding a job? Ephesians 4:28 paints a different picture, “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.” We are to labor but the labor is not for selfish reasons. The money accumulated from the job is to have a others aim.
From my experience finding job is a lot easier when you are thinking of others. When the goal of getting a job is so that your kids will have food to eat the decision making becomes a lot easier. When I was considering a job to get I knew the main goal was to get enough money to provide. The central aim was not getting a plush job that gives me a false identity and/or fulfills my financial dreams. It was finding a job that will provide, just what Ephesians says. This made the decision making a lot easier. All I needed was a job that I knew I could do which would give me what I needed. With that criteria the Lord landed me with a career path that is pretty simple to obtain.
When we get our eyes off ourselves and on to serving others decision making gets clearer. If the goal of one’s job is going to sufficiently provide for a family then choices are many and easily decided upon. But if one is trying to find a job that will fulfill his desires for self-fulfillment and dreams then it is going to be hard with lots of drifting and “exploring” along the path.
For those just about to leave high school or having children thinking of college this is something to be thoughtful off. A four year degree is not a sign of a stable career path. There are many wise options out there for a good job that does not include getting deep in debt.
If one is interested in exploring other options than a four year college program shoot me a comment and I will tell you what I have found out in my explorations.
They will object: Does not the Old Testament promise that God will prosper his people? Indeed! God increases our yield so that by giving we can prove our yield is not our god. God does not prosper a man’s business so he can move from a Ford to a Cadillac. God prospers a business so that 17,000 unreached peoples can be reached with the gospel. He prospers a business so that twelve percent of the world’s population can move a step back from the precipice of starvation.
~John Piper, Desiring God, p. 198