Sometimes, a person you hardly know will tell you something that changes your life.
Early in September, I was talking to a cadet friend of mine who I didn’t yet know very well. He was in the process of filling out his 104R – a form that requires a cadet to plan out every class he’ll take for the next four years. I asked a hundred questions about his major and where he wanted to go with it. He was some kind of environmental studies major, and I was lost on what a person would do with that kind of degree. He detailed a few options, some which sounding a bit like “I’m gonna save the world” (and I don’t doubt him, honestly). He then asked what I wanted to do with my life.
I was suddenly embarrassed by my choice of major. I was in economics. That was a problem I’d been dealing with for a while. Over the summer, I was driving home from work and listening to a favorite hymn in my church, A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief. This monster of a song is seven verses long, but the seven verses tell a story. The story tells of an ordinary man that finds a poor, lost man and helps him out several times – gives him food, water, shelter, medicine, and eventually volunteers to die in his stead.
At the last moment, the stranger reveals himself as Christ. Christ’s final words in the song are a call to Matthew 25:40, which reads “And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me”.
Anyway, I listened to this song and I had something of an epiphany: I needed to help people. God had given me so much, and I owed it to Him to give to my fellow men. And yet, I was studying in a field where corruption was more than possible, and nothing was more important than study and success. I was studying the opposite of God’s chosen fields.
Thinking back on that car ride, I felt my ears and face heat as I mumbled “I’m in Econ. I want to do something good with it, but I don’t see how. Econ majors tend to be money-grubbers. I don’t think God needs people like that.”
My friend took that in and said something that I’ll never forget: “Well, look at Daniel. He was an aid to the king – a high-ranking aid, an important guy. Look at what he did for God. It all kind of depends on what you do with it, you know?”
If we all tailored our educational and professional lives to what we think God favors, the world wouldn’t be that diverse – and we’d probably still be living in huts without electricity. God doesn’t care what your occupation is. We need businessmen, mechanics, artists, truck drivers, environmentalists, and even politicians. There is no such thing as a more “worthy” job as long as you mean well. It all depends on what you do with your life and the resources you’re given. You don’t necessarily have to die in the stranger’s place, but give him water every once in a while, as you’re able. By small and simple things are great things brought to pass1
Hui, if you happen to read this, thank you for enlightening me. Go save the world, you ninja push-up machine.
1 Alma 37:6