13 July 2007

For Love or Money?

One of the presenters at Zach's freshman orientation made the assertion, rather matter-of-factly, that everyone goes to college for the sake of making more money. To hear it put that way really stunned me, and it saddened me, too. Is the pursuit of money really what drives everything? Is this to be the goal of life? I often joke about that, myself, but I guess I would prefer ultimately not to believe it. Then again, it is written that the love of money is the root of all evils. That seems to be proving itself in the case of college students.

Evidently, a survey of high school seniors reported that such young people, on average, imagine that their first job out of college will pay something like $160,000 per year. Such expectations presumably contribute to extravagant spending habits among college students, who either don't know or don't care that the money they receive from loans will eventually have to be paid back. Going out to eat and various forms of entertainment account for a huge percentage of what the typical college student spends. In addition to credit cards (which amount to bad news), many of these students end up working as many as 20-25 hours per week, on top of their classes, in order to sustain their lifestyles. Making money in order to spend it does seem to be driving an awful lot of what happens. That's a shame.

I gather that the pursuit of riches can lead to a less than happy life after college, too, judging from some of the other comments. One presenter told the incoming freshman, emphatically, that their college years would be the best years of their lives. I leaned over and told Zach that his college years would be good ones, but nowhere near the best years of his life. Really, we ought to live each year, and each day, as though it were the best and last that we are given, in faith toward God and in fervent love toward one another. We have died and risen with Christ in Holy Baptism, and our real life, our true and eternal life, is safe and secure with God in heaven. Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Chasing after money, and even managing to acquire lots of money, whether to horde or to spend, does not buy happiness; it sure doesn't buy peace or contentment. Whether much or little, whatever we have is a gift of God's grace to be used in faith and love. All things come and go, but the Word of the Lord abides forever.

I appreciated the advice of another presenter, who spoke about choosing a major and thinking about a future career. She was closer to the truth when she said that a lucrative career is fine, but if you don't enjoy what you're doing, it isn't going to make you happy or be very satisfying. My high school economics teacher taught us much the same thing, decades ago, when he made the point that a career is not chiefly about making money, but about one's place in the world and purpose in life. These are Law-driven evaluations, but they diagnose the problem, anyway. We find our true purpose and genuine satisfaction, our lasting peace and Sabbath rest, only in Christ. He is our priceless treasure, without whom heaven itself would be void and bare.

1 comment:

Zaripest said...

"One of the presenters at Zach's freshman orientation made the assertion, rather matter-of-factly, that everyone goes to college for the sake of making more money."

I was slightly glazed over at that point in the presentation, but I remember being both amused and a bit annoyed by that same comment. I am very grateful for the people I know who did NOT go to college simply to earn more money afterwards, as well as those people who didn't go to college at all, and concern themselves with money only as much as they need to in order to live in service to those under their care.

I'd also note that, rather ironically, there are quite a few careers which require a college degree that would not necessarily be more lucrative than some careers that don't require a degree...