Money, mediocrity, and the myth of 'making it'
This resource was originally posted as a seven-part blog series. To view it in that format, head to part 1, here.
I can still remember when I first began working for UCCF in 2014 talking to a church minister who said that when he went to speak at a music college CU meeting, he would tell them just how few of them would go on to 'make it'. And though it might bring tears to certain individuals' eyes, nevertheless, it was worth it, he said, because it was the truth, and it's kinder and more loving to them in the long run to know the harsh realities of life.
I wonder how that makes you feel.
There's a certain brutal logic to it that can feel hard to refute, and yet, if you're anything like me, it didn't feel quite right. I wasn't altogether comfortable with it. In this article, I want to explain why I think my discomfort wasn’t a mere bias towards music and why it might have some solid foundations. But before we get there, let’s explore what was good in this minister’s approach.
The good: Exposing the idol(s)
The premise for speaking so bluntly was the belief (false, I believe, but I’ll come to that in a bit…) that 'making it' is the only good outcome of a music degree. Now, if you do think like that, then statistically, unless you are one of the (very) lucky (very) few, you will indeed be disappointed. This church minister's aim was to forewarn so as to forearm. It was to protect the music student from a future disillusionment and the potential crisis that may follow.
To dig a bit deeper, therefore, we can see that it was to uncover a potential hidden idol - whether career success, fame or riches - and hopefully expose how precarious, even hazardous, it is to place our identity in such an idol. Because if we do, and then we don’t hit the heights that we’d imagined, the crisis that follows will probably be a serious identity crisis.
Now that’s bad enough. But imagine this idol had been coated in a ‘Christian’ veneer of ‘calling’, such that we’d convinced ourselves that to be a world-famous soprano/saxophonist/singer-songwriter/[insert your musical identity here] was ‘God’s calling for my life’. Well, then the identity crisis that would come from failing to hit such heights would likely turn into a full-blown crisis of faith, with them thinking something like:
Why would my Good Father leave me to flounder in penury, mediocrity, and obscurity?’
The result would either be to pull back from God and keep Him at arm’s length, no more fully trusting Him, given His supposed ‘track record’, or even to turn away from Him altogether.
I think it was these potential scenarios that led that church minister to speak so bluntly. And if, in doing so, a music student was protected from such a future disillusionment and crisis, then the Lord graciously used such blunt words to great effect, for which we should be very thankful. I really mean that.
Nevertheless, I do think there may be a better way.
Exposing the myth
Remember the premise for that minister speaking so bluntly? It was the belief that ‘making it’ is the only good outcome of a music degree. And I’d like to take issue with this. This belief is surely founded on a serious error, namely, that ‘good’ = ‘successful in the world’s eyes’, which as we know is normally characterised by fame, money, and reputation. Yet any of us who knows our Bibles knows full well that this is patently false. Just after rebuking the Pharisees by telling them that nobody can serve both God and Money, Jesus issues this stern declaration concerning worldly values (Luke 16:15b):
For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.
So, if we, as a musician, think that ‘making it’, in the sense of achieving fame, money or reputation, is the only good outcome of our music degree, then we’ve got a seriously substandard view of what the Lord considers good. Moreover, if (as we hypothesised earlier) we had coated that desire to ‘make it’ with a Christian veneer, whereby we’d persuaded ourselves that God had ‘called’ us to a successful career (and in so doing essentially promised us fame, money and/or reputation), then frankly we’d foolishly be trusting in a not-especially-subtle form of prosperity gospel. And that certainly is ‘an abomination in the sight of God.’
Rather, we know that biblically speaking, ‘good’ is characterised by love, mercy, justice, integrity, humility, servant-heartedness and productiveness. The ‘good’ is:
- loving and worshipping God, shown in obedience to Him
- loving others (especially the needy), shown in acts of mercy and justice
- doing all things with honesty and integrity
- having a Christ-like humility and servant-heartedness in all things, cognizant of the kindness, patience, love and mercy that have first been shown us in the gospel
- doing all things to the best of your ability so as to be as productive as possible
Therefore, if ‘making it’ can only be defined as having worldly success, then we must reject this myth that ‘making it’ is the only good outcome of a music degree.
Redefining 'making it''
However, surely a better way would be to redefine our understanding of ‘making it.’ Not only is the biblical understanding of what constitutes ‘good’, as outlined above, a sufficient reason for doing so, but so too would be a healthy dollop of common sense.
By which I mean: Statistics and indeed the experience of all of us agree on the plain and simple fact (that hardly needs stating) that the vast majority of people in every walk of life do not make it to the very top of that profession, and that that does not render them all failures and having wasted their lives.
The vast majority of bankers are not millionaires. Many of them of solid jobs and earn a good living – but they are not at the top of the banking profession, they will receive no awards or knighthoods for their services to banking, and very few people, even in the world of banking, know who they are. But we’d hardly call them failures.
So why would we do the same with music?? Surely we must redefine ‘making it’ in music to mean having a career in music, however high-profile or low-profile, in which we are content.
I think we need to reclaim the goodness of mediocrity. WHAT? Yes, I said it. We need to reclaim the goodness, or at the very least the acceptability, of mediocrity.
Mediocrity, in the arts, is not merely a dirty word; it’s a filthy one. It speaks of those who have not sought to master their craft, or those who have pushed no boundaries; it speaks of those who may have ‘sold out’ to the ‘uneducated masses’, or those who have settled for uninspiring or supposedly unimportant roles instead of pursuing the career summit. And whilst some of those critiques may be true and may in fact be undergirded by less-than-adequate motives (more on that below), it needs to be pointed out that the word mediocrity literally means ‘of middling height’.
And as I’ve already highlighted with my analogy from the world of banking, the vast majority of people in all professions, including music, only ever reach ‘a middling height’ in terms of the career ladder. And that can’t be wrong or bad. Otherwise you condemn the vast majority of all people everywhere for a simple fact of life – that there can only be a very few at the very top!
Rather, if goodness is defined less by what you achieve and more by how and for what purposes you achieve whatever you do (as the biblical understanding of ‘goodness’ would imply – see above), then we can confidently and unashamedly reclaim the potential goodness of mediocrity.
One necessary qualification here: I’m not talking about the quality of the music-making itself being compromised. I’m not saying that we should be content to settle for a subpar musical performance because we’ve been lazy and done too little practice, or because we’ve not cared about the gig itself and so dishonoured those paying us by not trying our hardest. No, what I am saying, and which I feel it is necessary to be crystal clear about, is that mediocrity is not to be despised when it comes to the things over which we have very little to no control, such as the height that we reach on the musical ‘career ladder’.
Not in control
The fact is, as I’ve already said, that most people don’t reach the heights that they would wish. Why? Yes, sometimes it’s because they just aren’t as talented. But sometimes it’s simply due to not knowing the right people, or being in the right crowd, or someone else on the day playing better in that audition, or a jury member being a bit biased towards someone else for some reason known only to them, or it could be because whilst you played brilliantly, you just didn’t quite fit the bill as well as someone else who played equally well. The point is, when it comes to our careers as musicians, we are almost entirely dependent on the affirmation and, more to the point, professional employment offered to us by others higher up the ladder. And so we are not in control. And therefore the vast majority of us will spend the majority of our working lives doing jobs that are not at the heights we imagined.
For some that’ll mean gigging with various chamber orchestras and ensembles freelance, when the dream was a full-size professional salaried orchestra. For some that’ll mean a solid salaried full-time job - e.g. as a music journalist, or a secondary school music teacher - when the dream was the freedom of performing freelance, in whatever sort of ensemble might have you. For others it’ll mean doing some peripatetic teaching perhaps alongside other non-music-related job(s) when the dream was a solid salaried full-time job in anything as long as it was in the music industry.
In this sense, the majority of us (I include myself in terms of my own composition ‘career’) end up being distinctly ‘mediocre’. And that’s okay! I have never been in control of my career. Yes of course there are things that one can do that ameliorate one’s chances of moving up the ladder – in my case, actually having a website and maybe a semi-decent social media presence might help – but even so, in the end, we still have to rely on that agent or that record company or that audition panel contacting us to say that they wish to offer us the job, and not somebody else.
And so mediocrity in this sense is not to be despised. In fact, I would go so far as to say that it can, and (when we are inhabiting it) should, be embraced and made the most of.
Why and how, not so much what
According to the Bible, how you do your work, and for what purposes, is much more important than what it is. This is vitally important. It’s vitally important both generally, but also specifically in our current journey exploring how we might go about ‘mediocre’ musical employment as a Christian. In his letter to the Colossian church, Paul addresses slaves and how they were to work for their masters. And whilst that is not a direct equivalent to our situation, nevertheless the principles he lays down are applicable to all forms of employment today. Colossians 3:23-24 -
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
It’s a clear enough command. Whatever you do – and in context, here the work was of the lowest profile – work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord…
The dignity of ALL work
And here’s the thing, this biblical view of work is incredibly dignifying, because it means that even if you haven’t ‘made it’ in the worldly sense, and are instead doing a job (whether musical or not) that you wish you weren’t, that doesn’t mean it is worthless. Rather, it is your current opportunity to serve God, and to serve others and their needs rather than yourself. Here’s how Martin Luther put it:
The prince should think:Christ has served me and made everything to follow him; therefore, I should also serve my neighbour, protect him and everything that belongs to him. That is why God has given me this office, and I have it that I might serve him. That would be a good prince and ruler. When a prince sees his neighbour oppressed, he should think: That concerns me! I must protect and shield my neighbour....The same is true for shoemaker, tailor, scribe, or reader. If he is a Christian tailor, he will say: I make these clothes because God has bidden me do so, so that I can earn a living, so that I can help and serve my neighbour. When a Christian does not serve the other, God is not present; that is not Christian living. 
So, if you find yourself in a few years doing only one gig a month, if that, and most of your life spent doing peripatetic teaching to privileged children who don’t practise, as well as occasional work as a delivery driver… if, to put it another way, you find yourself to be mediocre – not in the sense of being untalented or lazy or anything like that, but in the literal sense of being ‘of middling height’ in terms of the career ladder or your own aspirations – then take heart, you have not failed. If you are still trusting in Jesus, your identity and worth are found in Him and in Him alone, and therefore such ‘mediocrity’ is a perfectly acceptable, even good, outcome to your music degree, if you make the most of it and heed God’s command to work at it with all your heart, as working for Him.
You may wish to have your compositions played by the world’s top orchestras and sung by the world’s best choirs. But God may have ordained it that for the time being at least, it’ll only be the local county orchestra and your church choir who will perform your pieces, and so the challenge for you will be to be content to bring them joy through the music you write, even though it won’t garner you reviews in the national newspapers or boost your wider reputation much.
You may wish to be performing in the Wigmore Hall and the Carnegie Hall, but it could be that the local group of care homes comprises your current performing arena, and that that is what God has ordained for now. And so the challenge is not to denigrate this, but rather to forget your self, your ego and its aspirations for the hour when you sing/play to a group of sleepy septuagenarians, and to work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord.
In both of these hypothetical scenarios, and in all real equivalent scenarios, the challenge is to accept God’s sovereignty over your life - that He is ultimately in control of your career, not you - and therefore to know that this is where He has chosen you to be right now. This is the arena in which you are to serve Him today.
That’s not to say you cannot or should not try to change your situation and attempt to reach new musical heights – you are certainly free to do so, and by all means try. This accepting of a current state of career mediocrity that I’m advocating is not meant to validate or promote a passive acceptance of the status quo as though this current situation must be what you have been forever ‘called to’ and destined for. In Christ we are free to try to change and improve our situation if we can do so without compromising on our walk with Christ.
But all this notwithstanding, the biblical understanding of work does mean that your current ‘mediocre’ situation is not to be despised or disparaged. There is no warrant for glumness or bitterness. There is certainly no warrant for being lax in your practice or professionalism. Because, this is where God has ‘called’ you at this current moment, and this is where you currently have the opportunity to serve Him and to do good to others, and in accepting that, to do it cheerfully! In this way, all work has dignity, however high- or low-profile (or simply ‘mediocre’) it may be.
As may already have become clear, though, if we are to view such ‘mediocrity’ through a biblical lens, and even manage to be cheerful in it, then we will also have to grapple with two related concepts - contentment and calling.
None of knows whether or not the Lord has called us to be a world-famous soprano/saxophonist/singer-songwriter/[insert your musical identity here]. The only exceptions to this are those very few believers who are already at the summit of the career ladder. Because they are there already, they can know that this is the Lord’s calling on their lives. At least for the time being.
The only ‘calling’ that Bible speaks of as certain for every believer, is the ‘calling’ to faith in Jesus. After that, the only circumstantial ‘calling’ we can be really sure of is the place in which we find ourselves today. So, if you are in music college studying the trombone, then you can know that God has ‘called’ you to study the trombone in your music college. For now. For this season. He may ‘call’ you to be a professional trombonist for the rest of your life. He may even ‘call’ you to the principal chair in one of the world’s top orchestras such that, on the occasion when they decide to do a trombone concerto, it’s you that gets to be the soloist. In short, God may call you to what many would see as the very pinnacle of trombone playing.
But He may not. He may ‘call’ you to be a professional trombonist who freelances for the first ten years getting performing work where possible, before ‘calling’ you to take on the peripatetic teaching that’s already been filling an increasing proportion of your time anyway as a full-time job in a school for the next thirty years until you retire.
Or He may ‘call’ you to be a banker. Or a bus driver. Or a Bible translator.
The point is: in terms of our jobs and circumstances, you can only truly know your present ‘calling’. There are different seasons in life, and whilst the Lord may ‘call’ some of us to be involved in music professionally in one way or another for the whole of our lives, others of us may be ‘called’ to something entirely different.
And it’s worth emphasising at this point: we need not fear this. Why? Well, because God tends not to ‘call’ people to things about which they have no knowledge, training, or desire. Indeed, taking note of your natural desires, your personality, and the opportunities that come your way are the standard means by which people usually attempt to identify how they are ‘called’. So we need not fear the fact that God may ‘call’ us to something other than our present situation or the vision of the future that we so cherish and long for.
‘Calling’ as direction, not command
You may have been wondering why I’ve put quotation marks around every instance of the verb ‘call’. The reason is that it seems to me that one could quite as easily use the verb ‘direct’ – the point is that the activity we are describing is one of God’s sovereign direction over our lives, whereby He opens doors and shuts them, He guides us into one situation and then a few years later into another etc etc.
But it would be a mistake to conceive of this activity instead as one of our obedience to God’s clearly stated instructions. If that were the case, we could replace the verb ‘call’ with the verb ‘command’. Yet often, when people use the word ‘call’ or ‘calling’ (or sometimes ‘lead’ and ‘leading’), they do speak of it as though it were a divinely issued command specifically to them which they must obey. But too many are the casualties of faith which have foundered on these rocks, wondering why they have not succeeded on the path to which they were supposedly ‘commanded’.
Now whilst I concede that such a command is possible, nevertheless this simply is not the normal way in which the Lord relates to His people. Rather, we are free to choose various paths in life (though the Lord will sovereignly direct and open/close doors); what’s more important to Him is not which we choose, but how we conduct ourselves on our chosen path. And that is incredibly liberating! What this all means is that you can never miss God’s ‘calling’ – never! God is too big! His sovereignty cannot be thwarted by us. We are too little.
But what matters here is that we obey His commands to do good in the circumstance/job/activity to which He has called us now. And all that becomes an awful lot more straightforward if we have one of the most precious gifts of faith: contentment.
The gift of contentment
I would define contentment as peace of mind through satisfaction, i.e. it’s when you feel at peace because you have all that you feel you need.
In 1 Timothy 6:6-10, Paul writes:
But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
There’s lots in there, and this is not the place for a detailed exposition, but the short of it is this: whatever our circumstances, we can choose to be content with what God has given us, or we can discontentedly hanker after the things that God has not currently given us. The result of the latter can be disastrous.
And this brings me back to the idea of reclaiming mediocrity. The reason that the world (and perhaps we) despise mediocrity is that we always want more. Nobody aims for mediocrity. And it’s not wrong to have ambition. It’s not wrong in and of itself to want more. The question is: can you be content – at peace, satisfied – with what you do have (i.e. what your Heavenly Father has generously given you), such that you are able to want more without that desire consuming you? Can you carefully and continually distinguish between what you want and what you need? Can you be content in the knowledge that God has given you all you need, even if He has not given you all you want? Do you have the peace of mind, the contentment, to desire and work towards a high-profile musical career without being crushed and destroyed if you don’t (in the worldly sense) ‘make it’?
And so it is better to be content to serve others in a ‘mediocre’ music job than to have a relatively high-profile music job but be discontent, ever hankering after (and probably envying others over) even more prestigious roles we’d like to have. The content person in that scenario has surely ‘made it’ - in a biblical sense - far more than the discontent person.
By the same token, a high-profile musician who, like the hypothetical prince in Luther’s sermon illustration quoted earlier, recognises that their exalted station is purely a gift of the Sovereign Lord of heaven and earth, and so comes with a responsibility to serve Him and others, and is content with this, knowing that it can (and one day will) all be taken away, has surely ‘made it’ in a biblical sense far more than the ‘mediocre’ musician who is forever bitter and jealous of those who have had more success than them and as such fails to do their work as service of God or others. (Thus mediocrity in and of itself is in fact no better than great success – it’s how you approach it that matters.)
And so contentment is a gift to be sought after with great eagerness. And if, in being content, we are therefore able to exercise godliness in serving others, then God’s Word, as we’ve just seen, says that we have ‘great gain’. Indeed, one way to achieve greater contentment is to be godly in serving others in whatever job you have. Such self-forgetfulness is itself a path to contentment as it involves taking your eyes off yourself and what you do or don’t have. Godliness with contentment is great gain. Indeed, I would say that you had truly ‘made it’.
‘But,’ I hear you cry, ‘what about money? This whole blog series is so idealistic! But we’ve got to pay the bills. The title of this entire series begins with the word ‘money’ and you’ve hardly mentioned it!’
Yes. Good spot.
I probably won’t be the first, nor last, person to inform you that of all the topics Jesus discussed and taught on, there are few so frequently mentioned as money. He spoke about it a lot.
Necessarily that means that this blog post won’t even come close to saying everything that there is to say on this subject, nor will I even try to, but hopefully this will be helpful to those wanting a career in music.
The first thing to state is the blindingly obvious, which is that money matters. The reason this is necessary to say, however, is because we can like to think that it doesn’t. We can like to think that we are 'above' such base and ignoble concerns, as though money were a dirty thing. As musicians and artists, we can like to think that we are concerned with the deeper, spiritual, moral, ethical issues of life, and personal finances can seem petty compared with such matters. But the fact that so many of us spend so much of our time thinking and worrying about our financial situation show this to be a nonsense and a farce!
To survive we must eat. To eat we must have food. To have food, if we are not a landowner with agricultural capabilities and resources, we must buy food. To buy food we must have money. Life is of course about much more than survival. Music is a wonderful exemplar of this fact. God could have made the world with only the barest of natural resources needed for survival, but in fact He has given us an unnecessarily lavish creation full of riches and abundance and beauty – of which music is surely not an insignificant part – that testifies to life being far more than survival. And yet life must always include survival at its most basic level. And so we need money.
Why do I say this? Well because therefore it is imperative that we factor in making money to the musical decisions we make in life. And more specifically, we must factor in making enough money. This is a matter of wisdom. This is a matter of common sense. Especially if we have financial obligations, which all but the very super-richest of us do. As in, even if you don’t have a spouse and children to support (and the majority of you will, one day), you’ll still have other financial obligations, not least to your landlord, or mortgage lender (if somehow you’ve achieved the seemingly impossible and scrabbled onto the property ladder). Even more pointedly, it’s clear both from Old and New Testament teaching that believers will contribute money to the worship assembly, i.e. your local church, so that will be another financial responsibility, even though it’s a voluntary one.
And therefore, whenever we are offered musical employment, we will need to factor in making enough money to be able to keep up with our financial responsibilities. That doesn’t mean that you will absolutely never do something free of charge, especially if, for example, it’s for a good cause. But it will normally mean that you can advocate for and insist on good remuneration for services rendered. You are not obliged to take a job that’s considerably underpaid. Indeed, you do the entire industry a disservice in doing this, making it harder for all musicians (especially those not at ‘the top’) to make a living from music.
The second thing to say is that we should be realistic about the music industry’s monetary aspects, and what that means for your career choices. That is to say, for most people, the money side of a music career is not a straightforward one. It involves invoicing, bookkeeping, and self-assessment tax returns. It means you might say yes to a job only to find another one offered at the same time which pays better. It sometimes means saying yes to some work in faith, hoping and praying that something else will also come along that month to fill the coffers up to their usual level. And for most people, especially those in ‘mediocre’ jobs (see above), it means not having a whole lot of money compared to other folk our age, which may hamper our ability to get onto the property ladder, all of which becomes more important if and/or when you start a family. The fact that most music work is in cities, not least London, where the cost of living generally, and property particularly, is (often way) above average also makes this relevant.
So, you may need to weigh up your various desires and decide what you are prepared to sacrifice. If you want to be a freelance musician, but you also want a house in the countryside, you may have to choose one or the other (depending on lots of other factors as well).
Or, if your personality is such that stability is really important, then for the sake of your own wellbeing, you may need to focus your musical energies into getting a job with a stable salary, whether that’s in performing or teaching or something else.
Don’t worry; seek first the Kingdom
The third and final thing to say is that money doesn’t matter as much as your relationship with Jesus. That is, for all that we must be wise with our financial matters, both in terms of how we earn it and how we use it, what’s most important is that we trust in our Heavenly Father to provide for us. Hopefully all I’ve said so far demonstrates that I do not say this to advocate for a super-spiritualised, unrealistic, unwise ‘dependence’ on God for money which amounts to little more than considering God a magic genie who will just pop it into our bank account regardless of what we do. Rather I say this to emphasise that amidst all the uncertainties, and particularly financial uncertainties, that a music career can bring, we should nevertheless remember that our Good Father in Heaven will provide for us all that we need, heeding Jesus’s words in Matthew 6:31-33 when He said:
Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
What matters most in your Christian walk is not how you make your money from music, but that you seek first the Kingdom of God. If you do that, everything else will follow.
For some, that will mean, in God’s providence, that He sovereignly provides more music work that helps to pay the bills and to be given away. For others, seeking first the Kingdom may mean that a realism about current career opportunities versus financial responsibilities means switching from a musical career with little financial stability to another musical career with a more regular salary. For others in that situation it may mean switching to a completely non-musical-related career.
But in all cases, the key is to seek God’s Kingdom first, to pursue holiness and godliness, to commit to a local church where you can grow and serve, and to trust God to provide all you need. In doing so, you will then be able to grow ever more mature as a disciple of Jesus, and so be able to use your (hopefully ever-increasing) wisdom to discern, however high-profile or ‘mediocre’ your musical job is, and however much or little you may have felt ‘called’ to your current role, what you need to do in order to love God and love others through fulfilling your current financial responsibilities.
Let me finish by once again pointing you to 1 Timothy 6. This is verses 6-8, in the New Living Translation –
Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.
 Deuteronomy 6:4-5
 Deuteronomy 12:28
 Micah 6:8
 Proverbs 12:22
 Philippians 2:5-8
 1 John 4:19
 Titus 3:14
 Martin Luther, “Sermon in the Castle Church at Weimar” (25 October 1522, Saturday after the Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity), inD. Martin Luthers Werke: Kritische Gesamtausgabe, 60 vols. (Weimar: Herman BöhlausNachfolger, 1883–1980) 10/3:382
 There are three extra points that could be made about this. (1) The first would answer the fear-filled question ‘But what if God’s chief ‘calling’ for me is to be a bus driver?’ by reminding us of the goodness of God when it comes to Him giving us what we ask for – see Luke 11:11-13. (2) The second would add to this response by building on a point made earlier about the legitimacy of seeking more fulfilling employment, understood as part of a broad biblical understanding of the dignity and creativity of humanity, and the cultural mandate: doctrines that led to the rise of technology and industrialisation. (3) The third counters this in the context of ‘calling’ by suggesting that the entire notion of ‘calling’ is an inherently privileged notion that the vast majority of the world’s believers cannot really engage with because their priority is simply to survive, rather than worry about which employment out of a plethora of choices might be ‘the one’ to which they have been ‘called’. But there isn’t really space for all that in more detail.
 I recognise that for some people, this may seem the opposite of liberating. The plethora of choices leaves us feeling bewildered and desiring direction from above. In this circumstance (and in fact in all circumstances), we ought to bring these choices before the Lord in prayer and petition Him to direct us clearly into the path in which we can best serve Him and our neighbour. (Our freedom to choose does not negate the necessity of laying all our plans before the Lord.) But again, even here, the prayer is for direction, through opportunities arising or not arising, and for us to have the wisdom to perceive this clearly and so to follow that 'leading'. The Lord 'has given us everything required for life and godliness' (2 Peter 1:3) and so we must not spend our time seeking some external sign, all the while abdicating our God-given responsibility to use the wisdom, intellect and common sense that He’s already given us to divine from His Word (another precious gift from Him to us) what we ought to choose.
 As God says in 1 Timothy 6:10, it is the love of money that is the root of all kinds of evil, not money in and of itself.