Yesterday, Jordan Ballor explored the relationship between money and happiness, referring to money as “a good, but not a terminal good,” and pointing to Jesus’ reminder that “life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
Over at Café Hayek, economist Russ Roberts offers a good companion to this, advising college graduates to have a healthy perspective about money and meaning when entering the job market:
Don’t take the job that pays the most money. Nothing wrong with money, but it’s the wrong criterion for choosing if you are fortunate to have a choice in this not-so-great job market. People often confuse economics with anything that is related to money as if the goal of economics is to make you rich. But the goal of economics is to help you get the most out of life. Money is part of that of course, but usually there are tradeoffs–the highest paying job has drawbacks. Don’t ignore those. So take the job that is the most rewarding in the fullest sense of the word. Sure, money matters. But so does how much you learn on the job, how much satisfaction it gives you and whether it lets you express your gifts. The ideal is to find a job you love that still lets you put food on the table and a roof over your head. You spend a lot of time at work. Don’t do something you hate or that deadens your soul just because it pays well.
Time is precious. One of the simplest but most important ideas of economics is the idea of opportunity cost–anything you do means not doing something else. Don’t spend all of your leisure on email and twitter and entertainment. Keep your brain growing. Listen to Planet Money. Read a novel. Take a cooking class or keep working at that musical instrument.
Of course, the Christian must be especially careful that this goal of “getting the most out of life” is properly grounded and directed.
Thus, in addition to looking beyond the dollar signs, and further, in addition to finding a job that matches your gifts, reading some Dostoyevsky, and taking up the mandolin on the side, “getting the most out of life” will mean, above all, following the call of Christ — loving God, sharing the Gospel, prayerfully heeding the voice of the Holy Spirit, loving your neighbor, honoring your family, serving your employer and your clients/customers, pursuing right relationships, and glorifying God in all the work that you do.