Links Worth A Look- May 3, 2012

Student Loan Debt is Killing the Church- Five ways that student loan debt negatively impacts the Church. I agree with the points of the article, but I’m ambivalent about student loan forgiveness. The student loan payments my wife and I make each month almost equal our rent, but I don’t think the government or anyone else should have to forgive our debt. We knew the cost of our educations and chose to pursue them. That being said, I wouldn’t reject loan forgiveness if it was offered :-). I think the answer lies more in figuring out ways to subsidize education so that institutions don’t have to charge as much. Perhaps we could re-direct some money away from defense and towards education. Crazy, I know. The Numbers of Kony 2012- Pretty amazing. The Lost Sin of Envy- What Envy Wants- “Envy is unique among the sins in that you never, ever enjoy it. Envy never brings any satisfaction. If you commit the sin of adultery, you enjoy the fleeting pleasures of the flesh; if you commit the sin of gluttony you get to enjoy the taste of food while it slides down your throat. These are very fleeting and fleshly pleasures, but they are pleasures still. Envy only, ever makes you more miserable than you were before.” The Trouble with Youth Ministry- “So, why are our young people losing faith in the church and God? It’s a relationship problem. They don’t think of Jesus as their friend. He’s a concept or an historical figure. He’s an academic subject that their churches teach. And once they graduate from youth group, they forget about the Jesus subject—just as they forget about their other high school subjects. Jesus gets left behind with algebra and early American literature.” Seven Things Every Leader Needs to Quit- Excellent stuff in this list from Ron Edmondson. His advice is relevant for leaders in all fields. “I’ve often wished I could say something to every leader. There are some things I’ve learned the hard way. I often share things leadership should do, but today I thought it wise to share some things not to do.” The One Thing Good Pastors Must Be Competent to Do- “A pastor must be a jack-of-all-trades—spiritual leader, preacher, counselor, evangelist, Bible scholar, theologian, cultural critic, CEO,

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social worker, family man, and all-round good guy. No wonder we can feel overwhelmed with advice thrust at us from all sides designed to help us perform those many roles more skillfully. But what is that one thing that you must be good at if you are to be a good pastor? What is most worth your time in developing? What is the core from which everything else flows?” And, just for fun, a quick reminder to never drink soda ever ever ever.    

2 Responses to “Links Worth A Look- May 3, 2012”

  1. Chris May 3, 2012 at 11:46 am #

    Some interesting links across the board – and I enjoy this particular feature of your new site – but for now I’ll limit my comments to the student loans article as I think it is very far off base. For a point of reference, I am lucky enough not to have any student loans. That said, part of that is because I chose to go to UCLA rather than Georgetown or Emory, where I was also accepted. I could have had a private school education that might have been “better” but ultimately chose against it and being able to avoid student loans was a significant factor. For others who went to UCLA and now have debt from there, it would have most certainly been less expensive to spend two years at a community college – great commentary on that earlier this week, Brian – and then a Cal State school. In short, almost everyone with significant student loan debts chose to go to a school that cost more than an alternative because they thought it was worth it. I appreciate that you take responsibility for your debt, Brian, as certainly there were cheaper options. This is certainly not the stance taken by many and the article also makes no mention of how the debtor is almost always directly responsible for how much debt he or she has.

    That said, I call into question some of the article’s claims regarding the negative effects on the church. For one, tithing should actually be higher if people have student loans and are therefore forced into making more money. Lindsay and I have other debt and we never allow this to stop our tithing, even when it would make all the financial sense in the world to. If people aren’t giving and using student loans as an excuse, they weren’t going to give anyway.

    Secondly, I’m not sure who defines “community”, but my definition would certainly be different than the author of this article. My parents have lived all over the world and the US in “full time ministry” – hate the terminology, but it’s all we’ve got at this point to express their vocational choice – and they have created community wherever they’ve gone. I’ve moved with them many of those times and I’ve got friends all over the world and right here where I live. I work in a high-stress job and make the time for friends/family as do my friends and family. Once again I would argue that almost anyone whose life is being ruined by a job they had to take as a result of student loans would have other options – like, say, living in a smaller apartment or driving a lesser car so they could afford to have a less time-intensive job. Additionally, even if we define community the way the author does, I’m not sure he’s correct. Most of my close friends have had significant debt in some form or another and exactly zero of us have let that affect where we live, who we hang out with or where we worship (or, to my previous point, how much we tithe).

    The place where I do agree with the author is that it can create vocational slavery and limit ministry opportunities and risks. Lindsay, my wife, is forced to work at this point largely because of debts incurred as a result of a business venture and that has been difficult for both of us. We have several friends for whom this is true as well. I think many are missing out on opportunities to serve and/or take risks because they feel they need to pay off these loans. (We are, however, tithing more than if she weren’t working, so at least there’s that). That said, we chose to be where we are financially and while we could have just refused to pay the debt and gotten much of it forgiven, we have faithfully paid down what we owed because we promised to do so when we borrowed it. The vocational slavery we find ourselves in was entirely of our doing.

    What concerns me most about the article – and the many that are out there like it – is that nowhere is there a focus on warning students BEFORE college. The article actually seems to provide no solutions, only problems, but the tone of the article seems to lament the current situation rather than work on how to get students to choose or reject debt before choosing a college/grad school/seminary. Loan forgiveness is not the solution –

    and subsidizing education probably isn’t either as schools will just charge more. It is unsurprising that the unprecedented increase in available capital to pay for schools (loans/grants/etc.) has led directly to an unprecedented increase in tuition costs. Schools will charge whatever they know people will pay and subsidizing education won’t alleviate that problem. The solution is guiding high school students – and their parents – to be better consumers and decide if they are willing to work off those loans before they take them. The government isn’t going to fix the problem as the problem lies squarely on the shoulders of the people who chose it.

    • Brian Kiley May 3, 2012 at 12:00 pm #

      I agree with just about everything you’ve said here. I especially agree that pre-college education on the costs of post secondary schooling is an important piece of the puzzle. I agree that loan forgiveness is not the answer. I fear it would create more problems than it would solve. I do think there is a way to subsidize education to make it more affordable, but that is, admittedly, a complex issue.

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