Future = Career?
If you read the last blog, you may begin to see the struggle of planning for the future here. If you remember back to when you were a child, or even if you have kids now, you know that one of the most commonly asked questions to a kid of almost any age is, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” You get different responses from kids and those responses change as we grow older and mature. You have people who want to be princesses (you don’t hear of a lot of people wanting to be princes or kings), athletes, teachers, astronauts, etc. And then as the reality of age sets in, we get much more serious with our answers, but the question never changes. As we approach high school, college, and the work force we are constantly bombarded with the idea of choosing where our career path might take us and with the idea that the career we choose is what will define us.
By the time I was in 8th grade, I had already decided that I wanted to go to Georgia Tech (which I did) and become an engineer (which I did not do). I have no idea why I chose that field or school, and at the time I didn’t really know the difference between an electrical engineer and a guy who drives a train, but I had an idea of what I wanted to be when I grew up. The strange thing is, looking back at that question and the thought process surrounding it, my future was always focused on WHAT I would be and very rarely on WHO I would be. There is a huge difference. What we will be is mainly our career. Even now, if someone asks about us, one of the first things we tell them is our job title. If someone asks you what you are, you give them your position in a company. We are very tightly tied to whatever our job is. I am not saying this is a bad thing, even though it probably is, but I am saying that we should not be defined by what we do. Right? We should not get our self-worth from our career and we should not ascribe worth to someone else based on their job.
I say all of that to say, any time I think about our kids’ futures, for some reason my mind immediately goes to what they will do for a living. Being in Haiti and thinking about that is a little bit different because the options are so limited. With an economy and climate like the current one here, our kids cannot really choose to be whatever they want to be (as sad as that is). Some of the smartest and hardest working people I know barely get by and struggle finding employment. So when we think about our kids’ futures, this has to be an important part of it. At the same time, I have begun to challenge myself to think past that aspect of their future to the men and women that they will become. When I sit down with them and ask them what they want their futures to look like and tell them my hope for them, I want it to be about more than just what their job title will be.
I don’t really know how focused other cultures are on careers or how tied to a job title other people are because I am American and I don’t really know anything else. In fact, after living in Haiti for a while, I still do not really know what type of relationship a person’s future has with their career. What I do know is that as followers of Christ, we are much more than what we do! If someone asks us who we are and our simple answer is a pilot, a teacher, a doctor, a plumber, etc. then we have no idea who we really are. As followers of Christ, we are children of GOD, joint-heirs with Christ, those that GOD has chosen and we, on a daily basis, tell people that we are merely employees of a company? I want to help our children plan for their future and help them decide what job they can do here, but I do not want that to be the thing that defines them and I do not want living in Haiti to be the thing that defines me. Our future, our kids’ futures, and your future is not determined by you skill set, it is determined by the creator of the universe, and we have the privilege of calling Him Dad.