It was a really great week. These young men and women are smart, generous, courteous and fun to be around. Many have come two or three years in a row during their spring break. They could be doing almost anything and they chose to come serve on the Yakama Indian Reservation.
As I spent time with them this week I was thinking back to my college years and the decision making process of trying to determine a major, career, employer and all those strategic decisions that time in life brings.
The world would ask us to answer these questions when making these kinds of decisions.
- Do your skills match up with the requirements of the job?
- What type of income will you earn in this field?
- Is this a stable career choice or will there be major changes coming?
- Will you be able to provide for a family, buy a nice house, live in a nice neighborhood?
- What are your friends doing?
- Will you live up to your parent's expectations?
Unfortunately, those were the exact questions I asked when I was making these decisions.
These questions and the mindset behind them often lead to living for self, materialism and keeping up with the Joneses. It is so easy to get caught up in the "security" that a job, bank account, and a normal middle class life offer. The pursuit becomes maintaining that "security" and the "glory that comes from man." John 12:43
Ecclesiastes has much to say about this type of thing. The Preacher pursued pleasure and wisdom and ". . . became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun." Ecclesiastes 2:9-11
We pursue wealth and possessions. We are killing ourselves establishing a career and a reputation. How often do we consider why we are doing this? Are we truly serving our Master or are we serving mammon?
Should we not instead ask questions like:
- How can I use my gifts and talents to serve God and His Kingdom?
- I know the harvest is ripe and the laborers are few, so how can I be a laborer for Christ?
- Does a large bank account really provide security?
- When will my retirement account begin to look like barns built to store grain so we can say: "relax, eat, drink, be merry?" (Luke 12:19)
- Does being a Christian in the workplace only mean seek out opportunities to share your faith with your co-workers?
- What does it mean to love my life and to hate my life in this world so that I may keep it for eternal life? (John 12:25, Matthew 16:24-26)
- How much do I value the glory that comes from man rather than the glory that comes from God? (John 12:43)
- What does living a life of risk look like in the Kingdom of God?
I can't answer any of these questions on your behalf. Only you can as you pray and immerse yourself in God's Word. But I can tell you that the world is trying to deceive you.
I spent from 1993 through 2013 pursuing a career in public accounting. I had "made" it in my field. I was a partner in a CPA firm. We owned a home in a new housing development and were making more money than I ever would have expected when I started my career. I was an Elder in my PCA church and my family was following the Lord. When looking at the first set of questions as a reference point I had accomplished everything I wanted.
But then I came to the Yakama Reservation.
There is so much more to life that keeping up with the Joneses. What a waste of time, effort and life! God calls us to so much more. The Lord calls us to serve Him and He will make it clear where He wants us to be. But too often we succumb to the pressures of this world and those around us. When I look at Facebook and I see what we are spending our money on, how we spend our time and what we treasure in our hearts (Matthew 6:21), and the things that make us speak up about something -- I'm a bit sickened.
"But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you." Matthew 6:33
I challenge you to take a risk. Risk your life that God will provide in ways you cannot imagine. Trust that Jesus is greater than the treasures of this world.