Monday, August 13, 2007

Preparing for the future

Loopers (the Lutheran hsing list I belong to) has been talking about preparing our kids for the future, specifically working and supporting a family. This has given me an occasion to really think about what I expect to teach our kids about the real world. The conversation has included sending your kids to college or not but also finding a career field. My question is, do you have to love what you do?

A few years ago I would have said that was something we should teach is a necessity but now I'm not so convinced. I would say that a majority of people out in the world are not working in a job that they love. Now this is all my opinion based on our experiences and the people we have met...

I think God gives us the ability to earn a living but I don't think that ability is always something we love to do. Some people have the great fortune to be able to spend a lifetime working at something they love. I just keep thinking that if everyone insisted that they only do something that they love then we wouldn't have enough food servers, grocery clerks, and garbage collectors to go around. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't try to find something that you like but at the same time I don't want to set our kids up with a belief that it is of the utmost importance.

I think there are many ways to find enjoyment in a job that you don't care for. The ability to provide for your family and the needs of your neighbor is one such way. Even though you don't like the actual work I think you can find pleasure in the idea that you are serving those around you. You can find fulfillment in doing your job well and being successful. I also think that sometimes your job gives you an opportunity to do those things you do love. Maybe you will be able to save up enough money to pursue that hobby that you've always wanted to try. Or your job may help you on your way to be in a position to try farming when you are older and more financially stable. In that way, the job is a means to an end. It can enable you to do things that never would have been possible otherwise.

With the increasing risks of downsizing and outsourcing I cringe at the thought of suggesting that going into a field that doesn't have a lot of options is a good idea just because you enjoy it. Sometimes we are called to make sacrifices in what we want to do in order to fulfill the vocation of providing for our family. That doesn't mean we cannot find an outlet for our passions but that in reality we probably won't be able to use those things to provide for our needs.

A couple more thoughts...
Paul and I have spent lots of time reading books and watching programs that talk about "living the good life" or finding a way to live the way you want. One of the common themes in all of these things is that you have to sacrifice in order to get there. The common element in what we have read is that these people are older and have a source of investment or income that makes it possible to do the things they want. The people have worked jobs they didn't like but those same jobs have given them the ability to perfect their goals. They didn't start out making carved wooden bird and supporting themselves on the income, they worked a boring job to provide for their family while saving to make their dreams a reality. Of course there are some people that are very lucky in that they fall into something that works both financially and makes them excited to get up in the morning, but I think the majority of people have to make the best of a less that perfect situation.

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