Chicks Dig Guys with Skills

I'll never forget when I decided to go to Moody Bible Institute. My mom was stoked. Ever since the divorce, my life had seemed like one of its casualties. I was wandering and directionless. She once told me she figured that she and I would grow old and gray together--me still living in the basement or something.

Even the people from my home church were surprised when I showed up one Sunday with a real, live girlfriend. Apparently I had "bachelor for life" written all over me. So needless to say, my mom was excited to see me taking charge of my life and carving my path out in the world. But not everyone in my family expressed the same amount of enthusiasm in my decision.

Now it's important to note that my grandmother is one of the strongest believers I've ever met. She has been giving to missions work and teaching Sunday School for decades. So I have nothing but respect for the wisdom of this 90-year veteran of the Christian life.

But I was taken aback when she told my mother over the phone that she wasn't sure my going to Moody was a good idea. Her reasoning? "What's he going to do with that degree?" she said. Her irrefutable logic on the matter was that the degree was simply impractical. And as a graduate who couldn't find a job out of school for over a year, I have to agree.

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That's not at all to say that I regret my time at Moody or that I would have done things differently (such thinking is foolish and unproductive). But it does point out a significant blind spot in Christian culture.

As I've said before, many consider it a higher calling to enter into some form of Christian service or full-time ministry. But are any of these jobs practical? Sounds unfair or uncharitable, I know, but hear me out.

What are the perceivable skills that are developed in most of those positions? Administration? Public speaking? Interpersonal relations? These aren't high-level skills; they're entry-level. And while it's true that society needs all kinds, it does seem odd that Christian culture isn't contributing highly skilled individuals into the workforce. At best, it seems that Christians today are skilled at being Christians. And not much else.

Perhaps it comes out of Paul's admonition that those who preach the gospel for a living, should receive their living from the gospel. Now, I would never disagree with Paul. But I also would never read Paul out of context. Because he goes on to say that this was a privilege of which he never took advantage.

Paul was a tentmaker. And a student of the law. So he was both educated and skilled. With this, I'm not saying that everyone should be like Paul any more than he said everyone should be single. I just think it's interesting that the same person who told churches to take care of their preachers and missionaries never needed that care.

I'm incredibly grateful for the theological education I got at Moody as well as the often over-looked skills of research writing and critical thinking. But I would be foolish to think that this kind of degree or even degrees in philosophy or history are valuable, career-wise, for anything beyond teaching.

To be fair, career value or "practicality" doesn't have to matter if personal and spiritual enrichment were achieved. Just don't expect the average employer to care how blessed you are.