Success is a funny thing. I can dwell on this concept for hours at a time. When I first began homeschooling, I had every intention of equipping my children for the best colleges from which they would graduate at an age no greater than twenty. With purpose, I have never allowed myself to think too long on careers, so that I would not push my wishes overtly or inadvertently on them. I have always been aware that my children are whole people, with a purpose that reaches far beyond their childhood home. I believe it is my job to train up, equip and encourage them the best I can; after that, they need to choose to follow the Lord on the path He has set before them, wherever that may lead.
Within my small role, my mind has been working around the ideas of success. I think the Christian terms for success is blessing. As I type this, I am listening to Laura Story’s blessings. We ask for blessings that are physical, and in line with signs of success. She sings that maybe it is the hardships that pull us out of that comfort zone that breeds lukewarm hearts that are the true blessings.
I still want to give my kids all I can to open doors for them. I certainly don’t want to be responsible to eliminating possibilities for them. So, still college is there. I will work to make them more than able to achieve whatever level of education is needed. But, my ideas about an education are changing. It actually frightens me a little. I watched both my parents pursue their degrees later in life and the struggle this scenario presents. It seems reasonable that a college education is best achieved before producing children and probably before marriage. Because of this, there is a ‘now or never’ tag attached to college—while not wholly accurate, it is certainly a sober warning.
I certainly don’t have a problem sending my kids to college or with them having degrees. But, the worldly mentality is so very insidious. It is everywhere and the seed is always faithlessness. I hear things like, “sure God is our leader and provider, but it isn’t practical to expect Him to lead and provide all the time.” The idea behind this phrase is in everything! Ironically, I hear it most often when discussing how a church should function, but that is another post for another time. Choosing practicality over faith can be seen in careers, dating, childbearing, childrearing, education, relationships, careers, relationships… It is everywhere. We say we rely on God and trust Him, but with the next breath we explain that there needs to be a backup, something to do while waiting on His answers or guidance.
College is just the beginning. But after that, there is the justification of the time and money invested in the degree. One must get a job to pay back the college loans, and make a living. To make the money, the work must be a priority. hmmm…
I don’t think I am able to put my concerns into words here. I keep trying, but I read them back and they aren’t making the point in my heart. I may have started too early—with childhood and college.
I guess I wonder how we can pursue human definitions of success and be where the Lord wants us to be for ministry and service. We cannot serve two masters. To maintain an American life, there are many trappings that siphon our time, money and talents from godly service. To be living sacrifices and completely sold out for the service of God, I am concerned that the comforts of life are distractions that lull us into complacent disobedience. The western world has a system that includes extended, expensive education; delayed family-forming and detachment from one’s original nuclear family. And the maintenance of western ‘success’ requires continual sacrifice: the proverbial rat race or hamster wheel to keep everything going, but going where? I don’t believe these things fold nicely into a plan by the Lord.
It is scary to abandon that definition of success. To give up retirement, the home, the things. Those things are tangible and comforting. But they are also earthly treasures that are ash. Sometimes we think we are compromising by acknowledging the non-standard methods to success—the artist or performer who drops out of school but attains acclaim and more money than an office job could ever offer. But this still holds to a worldly standard of success. Money and things it can buy.
What about the person who foregoes the whole game? They give up comforts and self-reliant security to serve. They live all their lives not knowing from where tomorrow’s food will come. They live all their lives in communion—in union—with the Holy Spirit. Am I brave enough to send my children in this direction? To live this way myself? Does it even matter?