When looking at the world around me, at least the American world that I am surrounded by, I have found a principle that I want to instill in my children’s understanding. We are a society that puts a value on subject matter specific knowledge. Jack-of-all-tradesmen who have not mastered anything are not rewarded for their well-rounded intermediate skills. For example: engineers are broken down into several different categories from aeronautical to mechanical to manufacturing to electrical to robotics, etc… Even artist are split by skill sets: oils, pastels, graphic, sketch, cartoonist, water-color, and on top of this all the different methodologies within each field such as impressionistic, contemporary, Renaissance, etc… Children should be exposed to as many career areas as possible based on their innate abilities that are discovered through testing, observation, experimentation, or whatever method as a parent or educator that you can lay your hands on. Then teach them early how to develop a course of action for pursuing those interest and creating a career out of it. That doesn’t mean that they cannot change their mind, but at least they will remove some of the risks and errors in making their career choice(s).
Now the other issue that inevitably arises from this line of reasoning is whether or not to pursue a career for monetary reasons. Money in itself is not an evil. In the end though, each person has to figure this piece out for his/her self. Now as it relates to your children what if little Jacob decides he wants to work as a pizza delivery guy for his living. He likes the flexibility, the late nights, the benefits with the main chains, etc… He is very serious about this including his love for pizza that he eats four nights a week. Financially this might work great for him while he isn’t married with three kids. But once the bills start piling up for doctor’s visits, pregnancy and birthing expenses, a higher gas bill, mortgage or the rent increases for space issues from having a larger family, and more, then the pizza delivery gig ends up not paying enough to make things happen on the home front. Now this leads Jacob into a world of confusion as he struggles to figure out the next career move for him. The most obvious would be a management position with the pizza company. The issue is that not everyone is cut out to be a manager and now Jacob is put in a position (management) that he is not supposed to be doing, but that he has to do to bring home the “bacon” (cash, health benefits, vision and dental insurance, life insurance, etc…). This has become his American Nightmare in the midst of pursuing the American Dream.
Ahh, that great facade, the American Dream. Post Depression and WWII it seemed to be a nice house with a picket fence, two kids (one boy, one girl – not that people had a choice), the husband had a job that allowed the family to purchase the ever developing consumer goods market such as a new car, television, radio, washer and dryer, refrigerator, and more. Women were expected to perform the critical role of home-maker during this period to help develop their children into well-rounded citizens while the men would come home and play catch with their sons (baseball or football), and let their little girls sit on their lap telling them all about their day. The American Dream (AD) was cultivated and further emphasized by consumer based companies and the media. The reality is that it wasn’t the American Dream at all. It was a scheme created that would entrap us and enslave us to the consumer goods market. Today the American Dream seems to consist of a large house to store all of our stuff in the two car garage, while putting everything else stashed in boxes in our walk-in closets for each room. Folks want a very nice ride or two….or three. A $4,000 car is unacceptable because it might break down during the course of the year. That wouldn’t be a problem but consumer debt has risen to a point where we are trying to control cost by getting nice stuff that doesn’t break down since we can’t afford such a predicament because the cards are maxed out, Sallie Mae school loans are lingering, and the home mortgage takes all of one spouse’s income to afford.
People, getting slapped in the face by reality doesn’t do any good if you don’t wake up. The reason life is tough is because of our spending habits, not the economy. Figure out your American Dream. What do you want out of life, or more importantly how can God use you today where you are to make a positive impact on the lives of others? Seriously, asking yourself that one question every day, praying about it and for others you come into contact with daily, and reading/studying the Bible (ewww, that thing is so outdated…not really, give it a try, start with the book of Proverbs and Paul’s epistle to the Galatian churches) will greatly enhance your awareness of the needs of others and how you can make a difference in their lives. Your work will take on an entirely new perspective. HOWEVER, you can’t continue delivering pizzas if the home front is not taken care of. There is a responsibility to your family to provide for their needs (while recognizing that you have to do the questioning stuff above first and trusting God to look after your needs). But that doesn’t make sense so I guess the point of this post is to put it out there for you to figure out. I am still working on it.