Sacrificing first principles for first priorities

It’s happening. The enemy is getting in the back gate.

From the day I set foot out of my parent’s house I have been telling myself to remember my priorities in life; not to get caught up in things that don’t matter when they are over. Remember to do the things you be pleased that you did later, when the doing is only a memory. Remember that family comes first.

For a few years now I have been tempted with the opportunity to move several states away to get a better job. I could do something more interesting, work on something I enjoy with people who can help me, and get paid more money, with better chances of doing even better in the future. I have been eyeing that pasture through the fence but I have stayed away from the open gate.

Then earlier this year I faced the loss of my current job. They began plowing up my pasture with that gate still wide open into the green fields beyond. I held my ground. I turned them down. Family comes first.

In the meantime, I have been looking for other opportunities in this area. I have not been doing a robust professional job of searching, but I have felt like I ought to be. I told everyone else who was losing their job not to wait–find your next job now, before someone else gets it. I took the job search coaching right away, rather than delaying until my actual job termination. I rammed my way through some of the material.

I started thinking a little further out. If I get a different job and I don’t want it to be further from my family, there is a very good chance I won’t be able to live here any longer. If I move, the best place to get decent apartments is in town. I don’t enjoy living in town and there aren’t that many towns closer to my family–especially that I would want to live in. Out in the country side renting is mostly either meth dens or houses that the owner is not quite ready to be rid of yet. So if I get a new job there is at least a healthy possibility that I will want to get a house.

If I want to get a house then I will want a good credit score so I can get a good mortgage. Cheated out of my credit history by an innocent-sounding legal technicality, I would need to build up my credit score by keeping good standing on some kind of significant credit short of a home mortgage–like a car loan.

All of this may sound like proper planning to support my first priority. But I was a little sloppy earlier when I said that my first priority was family. It’s actually not. My first priority is following God. It sounds an awful cliche because it is usually gratuitous; most people don’t imagine that following God in any way conflicts with keeping family as your first priority. And may God grant that the two are not in outright antagonism! But it is amazing how often the one will put the other in a different light.

For some people, putting family first means working fourteen hour days for twenty years so that the family has everything they should have and the kids get all the education they can handle. But then the family has stuff and the kids have their education but there is no family left. Just stuff and education.

In fact for pretty much every person, being a Christian or an American or a good person from anywhere means planning ways to take care of your family. And this is not by itself wrong. But following God is not the same thing as giving God a business plan and expecting him to fund it, either. The first rule of following God is that God doesn’t follow rules. Not yours, anyway. Even if God does want you to take care of your family, that doesn’t mean you have to do whatever you were planning on doing.

If I really wanted to do the right thing to prepare for the future, I’d move away and earn loads of money and come back fabulously wealthy 40 years later and take care of everybody’s needs for good! Whoever is left, anyway.

Shirking my career is making me miserable. Nobody is going to go hungry if I don’t have a job on January 1, 2011. Even if they were that doesn’t mean I am doing the wrong things right now. So forget it. I may throw resumes at jobs that look interesting, but I won’t worry about the rest of the fuss and intrigue that is supposed to be part of scoring your next job.