A Christchurch Press headline caught my attention this morning: “The Hottest Career paths for this year.” I am a realist, so I didn’t expect priesthood to rate in the top ten hot careers, but I had never imagined that my own priestly vocation would miss the cut on financial grounds alone.
According to a business reporter, if you have one of New Zealand’s hot careers you will be earning at least double the average salary. The writer states that “The most obvious factor is money. If you love your work, that’s fantastic – but the rest of us have got bills to pay”. I had never considered that a job-seeker might plan to make a choice between loving their work and making ends meet.
It seems that the key to the hot career is money, and the online title for the article is “Follow the Money in 2014.” The article continues by offering some “potentially lucrative career ideas.” Not only does priesthood miss out, but so too do the daily occupations of dozens of my friends, family and parishioners who find real satisfaction in employments that pay only average (or even less than average) annual salary. I think of so many of those who work on the land, tradespeople, new teachers, care-givers, artists, and most importantly of all, parents who remain at home in full-time care of children.
I’m not naive about this. Of course money is necessary, and a just reimbursement for labour is a basic human right. But I’m also aware that the great names of history were most often underpaid if they received any payment at all for their labours. Think of the artists, musicians, leaders, writers, inventors, and don’t forget the saints. Not only did these great people receive little or no financial recompense for their efforts, but they often laboured in difficult, ungrateful and even hostile environments. These great and poorly-paid people are our heroes of history, the ancestors whom we admire most and to whom we owe so much.
We are failing future generations if we allow immediate financial reward to top our job-seeking criteria. Even today’s writer concedes in his penultimate paragraph that “Money should never be your only motivation…”
In short, having a hot career may be cold comfort to those who seek to live life more abundantly.