Saturday, March 27, 2010

Thoughts On Higher Education – Part 3

…continued from Part 2 – Why Not To Work For A Big Company and What To Do About It
A college education is now perceived by most Americans as being necessary to “succeed” in the business world. Indeed, I felt this way when I attended college – there was never a consideration on my part to stop my education at the high school level. As I pointed out in Part 2, though, there are now some very fine alternatives to college – and they don’t cost a fortune, nor do they take place in anti-Christian settings.

As I pondered this concept, two questions came to mind. If I ever feel that my kids cannot achieve their full potential without a college degree, should I reevaluate what I want them to attain in this life? What is it all really about?

A very wise man, one who had vast resources at his disposal to “experiment” with this idea, once endeavored to answer that very question. He devoted himself to study (Ecclesiastes 1:13) and to explore wisdom. He sought out pleasure, and cheered himself with laughter and wine (Eccl. 2:1-3). He took on great architectural projects, and planted vineyards and gardens –massive projects that were a great source of pride (Eccl. 2:4-6). And he amassed great wealth and acquired many possessions with which to delight himself (Eccl. 2:8-9).

For the first time, I noticed that this progression from the Old Testament parallels the typical American dream. Get educated – set yourself up to have some fun – do great things that can be seen by men – gain wealth – and retire to do something that rewards all of your efforts. Incredibly, it’s right there in the Scriptures – a test of the American dream, played out by the wisest man who ever lived.

King Solomon pondered education, toil, possessions, and amusement. What was it that he learned?

“For the wise man, like the fool, will not be long remembered; in days to come both will be forgotten. Like the fool, the wise man too must die!” – Ecclesiastes 2:16
Solomon concluded that even wisdom is not something that lasts, and while being a wise man is not a bad thing, it is not the ultimate goal. So, what is it that we should spend our lives striving for? Bible readers know the answer that is forthcoming. At the very end of the Old Testament book, the ultimate goal of man’s life is revealed:

“Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” – Ecclesiastes 12:13
When all that makes up a great life by human standards is considered - a college education, or wealth, or possessions, or wisdom, or great accomplishments – all of these pale in comparison to the one true goal given to mankind. Fear God and keep His commands. I believe this is the lesson that God has been pointing me toward as he placed the burden of writing these articles on my heart. My children are nearing the end of their time under my roof. The time to make decisions about their future quickly approaches. Can they really be happy if their ultimate lot in life is to have a Bible, a little bread, and a prayerful heart (like the famous 1918 Eric Enstrom photograph at the top of the page)? I must deeply consider what the Father wants for them. Whether it necessitates a college degree – or not – there is one principle that must override every other desire.

I want my children to know God and to have an eternal relationship with the Creator of the Universe. God wants that, too.

Because that is what it’s all about.

Back to Part 1 of the Higher Education series
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