I had to begin rethinking what education and success truly meant several years ago when my eldest son, who struggled throughout school, graduated high school. He was disillusioned with the educational establishment and had absolutely no desire to continue his education.
After reading a great book explaining how to continue education but outside of the traditional brick and mortar, College Without Compromise I tried unsuccessfully to steer my kids down this route. This book detailed how to obtain a degree by doing the coursework at home, online and/or at community college, saving thousands of dollars and time. None of my kids have felt led to take this path, but I let them know its still an option! :)
Son #1 entered the work force at age 16 and was making decent money. After 2 1/2 years of employment at the same place , however, the hours dried up as did his paycheck. Eventually, he concluded his best option would be to join the Job Corp and study carpentry somewhat as an apprentice in a real wood shop.
Meanwhile, my second son had graduated high school, also fed up with the school system. Deciding Job Corp was his best option, he choose to study welding. They both left for training in February 2010 with our blessing, although not according to my plan.
I had high hopes that my children would excel in school, attend college, land a dream job, and live on Easy Street, happily ever after. The route they chose really challenged me to question what it really means to be successful. Do I want my children to join the rat race? What is the main point of getting that dream job? To be chained to a desk 60-70 hours a week? To make lots of money to buy lots of stuff? To be so tired and stressed that there is no time nor energy to enjoy the fruits of his labor, his wife, his family?
I was caught up in the American Dream mentality. I realized this dream of mine was rooted in a man-centered worldview. That view is not in-line with my beliefs anyway. We are to work as unto the Lord, sharing the blessings of God with others, not hoarding them for ourselves.
I want my children to love what they do, do what they love and do it for the glory of God.
"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."
This is where true happiness is found. Serving the Lord and others needs. Not selfishly acquiring things that will eventually rust and rot.
Mike Rowe or Discovery Channel's Dirty Jobs recently went before a Senate Committee to testify the need for more skilled laborers. Excellent article, please take time to read it here.
Graduates with Bachelor's Degrees are having a harder and harder time finding a job and loaded with debt, are being forced to move back home with their parents. This is happening while there are thousands of vacant skilled laborer jobs. Farmers, plumbers, electricians, carpenters, welders. These are not jobs you can trust just anybody to do. You want a person who is skilled. Gaining skill comes gradually, over time with experience and from mentoring. Basically from getting your hands dirty.
I am thankful my boys both followed their hearts. Three years out of high school, Son #1 decided that he was ready to further his education and enrolled in community college.
Son #2 just graduated with honors from Job Corp and began his first welding job this week.
|Son #2: Horizontal Stick Welding, the beginning of his career|
To me, there is no greater measurement of success and joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. What is yours?