When I was a teenager, my main consideration for choosing a field that will become my major is job prospect and money. My passion during that time is on mathematics but since mathematics is not really practical skills that can be used in real world (in other words, there is no future prospect), I decided to pursue computer science instead.
Looking back around 7 years later, especially after I meditate on Scripture and studied a bit on philosophy, ethics and economy, I realized that my thought was too much like worldly people and my ethical standard is too low for a person who has done daily devotional and committed to attend church most of the times. I was thinking as long as my job still operates within the law and I can make money out of it then it is OK.
But after analyzing world economy so far and applying stricter standards of job ethics, I realized that what Lord Jesus said that the gate to destruction is wide and road to life is narrow (Matthew 6: 13) is true. I found that after I applied strict criteria for available occupations in modern days, probably more that 50% of modern jobs can be classified as unethical.
Usually people will rank jobs based on growth rate, employment rate, or average salary. This is because average people view job in their self-interest perspective whether they are employees, shareholders, or business owners. However, not many people view business as a way to serve God.
How can a business serve God? We know that all living things in universe were created by God, including humans, animals, and plants (Genesis 1: 11-13, 20-26). One way to respect the Creator is to preserve, to use it as well-being to all other creations, and to multiply His creations (Genesis 1: 28). That is, you should only engage in business which don’t causes a lot of harmful or side effects to society and nature.
So, instead of rating jobs based on growth rate or average salary, I will rate jobs based on its contribution or importance to society as whole. For simplification, I will consider ‘job’ here as something that should be done actively by individuals for earning their living. So, that means individuals that receive passive incomes such as shareholders and rental income will not be considered as jobs. I will also exclude jobs that are done for charity purposes such as social workers, elderly care, and evangelists.
1. First category – Producer
People in this category produces or add values to tangible and intangible wealth that sustain our life. People who are working under this category are pillars to the society.
Tangible wealth producers create or process natural resources to add values so that it is usable by humans. Examples of tangible wealth producers include farmers, ranchers, fishermen, woodworkers, metalworkers, stonemasons, mechanics, software engineers and parents.
I include parents under this category only for couples that want and able to have children because creating life is self-evidently a production act. It is true that around first 10-15 years, it is more like liability rather than investment. However, in long run you can see your children as wealth to you and society since they will be younger, healthier, and stronger and they can take care for you.
For intangible wealth producers, what they create is usually not in form of material products. However, their creation is helpful to build and create satisfaction for human heart. Under this category are painters, musicians, comedians, writers and craftsmen. In contrast to tangible wealth producers, these people produce more luxurious products and their products are still considered luxurious for most poor people.
2. Second category – Service provider
The jobs in this field include doctors, nurses, polices, firefighters, teachers, private tutors, drivers, cleaning services, clergymen, and so on. Notice also that the jobs in this field are dependent upon jobs in first category. In other words, the jobs in this category could not exist if the jobs in first category do not exist but not vice versa.
For examples, there will be no drivers if no one manufacture cars yet. No body will open laundry services if there are no farmers who grow cotton or tailors who sew clothes.
Because of its dependency nature upon first category, I will say that people under this category is society luxury jobs. I said so because we can still live without them although in less convenient ways. They are more expandable compared to jobs in first category.
3. Third category – Facilitator (Inter-mediator)
Although intermediary jobs also provide its customers with service, I will classify it as less respectable than real service provider. The difference is that whereas service providers use a large portion of their own capitals and/or manpower to render service to clients, people who work in intermediary jobs (such as financial advisers, insurance agents, money changers, bankers) do not use their own capital to render service to their clients. They are mainly facilitators between producers and customers.
In modern economy, I found that people who work on this job is highly overpaid considering that they do not use their own capital. These jobs are making economy less efficient because it makes customers incur additional costs to obtain goods and services. Their service also do not increase total wealth of population since most of the times they just redistribute money. I will consider jobs under this category, although it is legal, are parasitic to population and best to be avoided.
4. Fourth category – Destroyers and oppressors
People that are doing occupations under this category earn their living or profit by destroying, reducing significantly, snatching, or produce things that decrease values in existing materials or people. Under this category are drug dealers, gun dealers, divorce lawyers, assassins, robbers, tax collectors, slave traders, terrorists, and …..(surprise, surprise) government in most cases.
Most occupations under this category is self-explanatory why they deserve this category. However, probably many people will object to me for classifying government under fourth category. They will say that government provided a lot of ‘freely’ available public services such as electricity, plumbing, internet, education, health care, and so on.
But is it really so? After all, where does the money to build power plants, plumbing, ‘free’ education and health care come from if not from taxation from its citizens especially productive people? Most of the times, government itself does not have income source. Adding into fact that taxation is taken forcibly. Unlike jobs in first three category, government, unlike producers, service providers, or even facilitators, does not give option to you not to pay taxes. You still need to pay taxes although you don’t use public infrastructures and services. You will go to jail if you does not pay taxes. What is this but legalized robbery?
Furthermore, we assume that government will distribute our tax money to these public infrastructures whereas most of the times they are not the cases. Most of the times, middle-class and high-class people does not want to use those public services and infrastructures because they are so badly managed and poorly maintained. Typically, a large portion of money will go to government bureaucrats and their high salary. In fact, as I mentioned in my previous article, the use of taxation for public infrastructure is alien to most ancient rulers. Typically, they use taxation to build gigantic palaces, luxurious stuffs such as gardens, furniture, jewellery, clothes, food, weapon of wars, monuments and even catacombs for themselves.
Some people will point out to Bible verses especially from Romans 13: 1-7 that it is our duty to government to pay taxes. I have discussed those verses also in my previous article so you may want to take a look.
So after studying all these things, what is the point? I will say that if you, like me, view business as tools to serve God, then you should not only engage in business but also engage in business that not decreasing total wealth of society and even to more important business to society as whole. I will say that most ethical jobs and business is only first and second category.
The skyrocketing food price caused by climate change and also lack of farmers accompanied by ever cheap price of electronic gadgets is outrageous. How come the price for most important products like food which are needed by poor and rich people alike can be so expensive whereas luxurious electronic gadgets are becoming cheaper? Why do no people have conscience to become food producers (e.g. farmers and gardeners) to help alleviate burden for lower class?
Be a light of the world (Matthew 5: 16) and not weeds that will be thrown into fire (Matthew 13: 41).