I see younger generations wanting to do good in their work. Helping the impoverished. Protecting the environment. Shedding light on the corrupt. Changing policies. Innovating society. Challenging the status quo.
We want the heavens to open up all kinds of paths for us now that we have decided to dedicate our lives to such noble causes. You might think to yourself, ‘I’m breaking my back trying to fix the world, and nobody else is trying as hard as I can, but nobody is noticing my hard work and on the contrary, I have to live on my small salary. The world is so unfair!”
In fact, our compensation system seems to work almost exactly in opposite. If you are a public school teacher trying to teach hundreds of inner city children, you get paid just a fraction of what you get paid as a corporate employee in Finance making the rich few even richer. No matter how noble your life purpose is, you will not get be compensated in terms of material wealth. Nobody might even care.
But I don’t think that means that we all have to give up entirely and live only for paychecks. In an ideal world, the amount of money you are paid and the level of material wealth you have will be directly proportionate to the “positive” benefits that you give out to the world. In that way, the “good” people will be largely rewarded and incentivized to do more, while the selfish people who only care about themselves without positively impacting society can be compensated less. But we all know the world does not work like that. So, we accept that reality. The ideal system is not here and may never come. The ideal system only exists in heaven.
So no matter how unfair this system is, We must give our all to impact the world in those noble ways with or without monetary compensation. Hell, nobody might even give us kudos for doing good.
The conclusion I came to is this. We do the Work no matter how poor or rich we are, that’s actually completely arbitrary. My parents’ generation and previous generations before them had to scrape a living doing whatever they would. Purposeful, purpose-less, it didn’t matter as long as it brought food on the table. And that’s completely understandable because back in olden times, food was actually scarce. We can barely think about fixing society when we can barely imagine how to feed ourselves in our next meal. But it’s different now.
People like us, especially young people in developed countries in the 21st century who have never known hunger and poverty, are in a prime position to think about purposeful work because we don’t have those urgent needs to satisfy anymore. We don’t have to worry about hunger because food is abundant here and now. We do, however, have to think about the repercussions of OVER-production of meat and other activities that will impact the finite resources of this planet.
What are we going to use our education and advanced degrees for? How do we use our god-given talents, resourcefulness, intelligence and privileges to do what God would have wanted us to do all along? No matter what form or shape that “Work” is. If your destiny is not in the convenient shape of a job (that makes you feel fulfilled but also pays well), and it usually isn’t, it doesn’t matter — you still keep going.
If you currently feel “stuck” at a place that has a very low-paying salary with bad work-life balance because you made a decision to find a more “purposeful” job, you must be willing to look at your life realistically. The world is not black-and-white. It’s not a decision between “find a noble job but be poor and miserable” vs. “find a high-paying job but be a selfish corporate slave.” The answer is more complicated than that. You must find the balance that works for you. If it’s not working out, you pivot.
We all need to survive first, yes, to satisfy those needs first. And after that, that’s when we can dedicate ourselves to those higher callings.
But the most important rule, I believe, is this:
Never give up doing God’s work through your life.