I just found out yesterday about an old friend of mine that recently got a big promotion. This man was a good buddy from back in the Hewlett Packard days. We started at HP at about the same time, and held the same position for quite a while, selling computers and related products to small and medium businesses. He got his first promotion a little while before I left HP to begin the ministry, a promotion that I might have gotten too except everyone knew that I was probably not going to be at the company very long, since I was planning on going into the ministry. This was 8-9 years ago. My friend has been at HP the whole time, and is now in a very good position, making (presumably) very good money. He didn’t tell me what he made, but when he told me the revenue he’s responsible for, I imagine he’s doing just fine. I was responsible for about $2 million in sales my last year at HP, and his number is now in the billions.
I told Andrea this yesterday, and she said, “Is that hard for you?” And I thought about it, and I think I can honestly say that it isn’t. Sure, I wouldn’t mind making a lot more money than I do as a pastor. Who wouldn’t? And of course there’s no guarantee I would have done as well as my friend has done- he’s an extremely motivated, hardworking guy with lots of talent and fits very well in that kind of environment. But I had been successful at HP already, and I’m sure that had I thrown myself into that career I would have risen in the ranks. Perhaps not quite as fast as my friend, but still. That it would have been more money is undeniable.
But we made our choices. I wanted to go in the ministry, and I always knew that the financial rewards were not as high as many other fields I might pursue. But there are a lot of different kinds of rewards for the work you do. I’m not going to paint myself as more virtuous than my friend for the choice I made- I’m deeply grateful that there are guys like him in industry who are effective at keeping our economy running. His work facilitates the industry that makes this blog possible, among many other things. I am glad he is rewarded well for the work he does. I am rewarded for the work I do in other ways. Financially my church is generous to me. They are also appreciative of the work I do. I get the privilege of being involved in some very good and very bad things in people’s lives, and yes, both are a privilege. It is an honor to be invited into very private matters with people, things normally only family would know about. I find that humbling and gratifying. I get the opportunity to spend a lot of time studying things I find very interesting and profitable. I get paid just to socialize with people, just to see how they’re doing.
There’s lots of ways to be rewarded for the work you do. Money is just one of them. Work truly is its own reward- to do things that are useful to other people and improves their lives, however that happens, is something that will bring pleasure to us when we learn to recognize what God created us for. When you are doing work that is valuable, then you will be rewarded for that work, in various ways. My advice to young people wondering about this question of work is to find work that people value and that you find satisfying, and the reward will come. It may take a while to get there. Sometimes the need to pay the bills trumps it. But find value in whatever you are doing now, and invest in yourself and your situation so that you can improve your ability to earn a living in ways you find more satisfying. Do this and you will never have to worry about being rewarded for your work. The rewards, financial and otherwise, will come.