You've probably heard the old adage based on Scripture that you can't serve two masters:
No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. (Matthew 6:24)
This could sum of up the constant battle for many men pursuing high-performance careers. It's tricky because it can be hard to admit.
You can so easily lie to yourself.
I heard one man who was pursuing a finance career say that he was going after it hard, working long hours, for God, so that he could put the resources to use for God.
Another men said that his gifting was in giving, so he felt his calling was to pursue the accumulation of wealth to achieve this.
Another man just denied it was an issue, saying that if he really needed to and God called him out of his high-paying position, he would do it. It would be easy.
Another man said it's impossible for him to love money because, according to the Scripture, he would have to despite God, and he knew he didn't despite God.
These rationalizations, however, mask a deeper look into what's going on in the hearts of every man in a high-performance position. I'm not saying that if you are in such a position then you must despite God and love money. I am not saying this. I am saying that, if we are honest with ourselves, the struggle is real.
Denying the existence of the struggle seems naive at best, and the start of a dangerous path, at worst.
I am not saying to quit that high-powered position, either; as I make the case later, there are reasons to achieve positions of influence.
But the real check has to be at the reason for the pursuit.
Here's what Jesus says following the earlier verse:
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? (Matthew 6:25)
I overheard a discussion with two men, in which one was saying he felt it worth working longer hours in order to achieve "safety" for his family, now that he had a young child to take care of. He wanted to ensure for well-being of everyone, and wanted to make sure everyone had money for shelter, food, clothes, medical care and other necessities.
But what does Christ say after warning against the war between God and money? He says life is more than food and more than for clothes.
In other words, even when confronted with the loss of the necessities for survival, Christ says to not worry about those things if it is at the expense of the relationship with God.
So let's look at the situation for most men in high-performance careers: they probably already have enough to survive if they were to stop working right now. Remaining in such a job is not essential for survival. Yet....it's often not easy to step away.
Stepping away could mean a downgrade in your current life. Not to the point of needing to worry about food and clothing, but a downgrade, nevertheless. Often, isn't the downgrade what gives us pause? I know it does for me.
Yet, if Christ says, in effect, that the key to not letting money be our master is to not worry over the essentials like food and clothing, isn't the converse potentially true? That worrying about the things of life over and above the barest necessities is a way for money to become our master?
I am not prescribing that to be the case. But I think the implied logic is there, and the invitation is to wrestle with what this may mean.
I remember a conversation with a man who was explaining why he was pursuing the next level in his career, that he had a responsibility and calling to provide for his family. But he didn't need provision for his family. As he talked further, that calling was for "more": a private school, a larger house with a backyard. These aren't bad. But it was self-deceiving that God called him into pursuing the "more."
I believe there is something that can redeem the engine of pursuit that drives many men in high-performance careers, something different from the typical lures of the world.
But in order to reach for it, a man must first grapple within the depths of his soul over who is really his master, not settle for the pat answer, and peer into areas he may rather not.
What do you think?