Tuesday, May 11, 2010

It Pays to Serve Jesus, At Least More than Social Work

Making the rounds is a Yahoo Hot Jobs posting of the ten worst-paying college degrees.

Third worst is theology. Second is elementary education. First is social work.

SWNID is interested for many reasons. One is that surveys of pay in higher ed show that professors of education and social work do better than professors of theology and religious vocations. If the yahoos at Yahoo are right (and something makes me trust the professionalism of the College and University Professionals Association more than the folks who work for a company that also lists the Ten Worst Fashion Mistakes at the Oscars), then there is systemic injustice in the pay of Bible college and seminary faculty (making a number of SWNIDish colleagues right). Generally, pay in higher ed tracks at about 80% of pay for the equivalent profession (if there is one) in the allegedly Real World.

Another is that the list as a whole represents just about the entire range of stuff that either is or prospectively might be part of the curriculum of the SWNIDish IHE. Thus, when students report that their degree lacks value, we suspect that they are responding in strictly pecuniary terms. Meanwhile, our place of business adheres to a strict No Pay for Performance mandate.

Another is the fact that though these salaries are relatively low, no one is likely to starve if her means were at the mean for these debased vocations. Just how much it takes to be happy is an excellent question to ask in a time and place in which the poor are disproportionately overweight and the number of registered vehicles exceeds the number of licensed drivers. We are personally tired of people who fear ministry and other helping professions because of bad pay, or more specifically who demand that their children pursue something other than a helping profession so that they can join the upwardly mobile subcategories of the middle class.

Another is that despite the low pay, an enormous number of folk aspire to enter these professions. We include theology, as dire predictions of a shortage of qualified ministers seems never to materialize, and churches with openings that pay a decent wage and don't promise endless conflict are routinely swarmed with applications.

Finally, we surmise that one Joel Osteen was not included in the survey, as his massive income would have shot the mean up to the level of Fortune-500 CEO. And if more pastors followed his advice, we'd all be richer than Mr. Teeth himself. This, of course, assumes that what The Reverend Mr. Osteen does falls somehow within the boundaries of "theology."


Micah said...

I make far less as a pastor than I did at my old job. My per-hour earnings are even worse, because my old job paid overtime and this one is straight salary.

But it's been worth it. If given the chance, I'd make the same decision ten times out of ten.

Chief Grinder said...

Preach on preachah...if you get into ministry for the money then you don't belong in ministry

L Richard said...

Pay justice is determined by supply and demand, as in all fields.

You are for the market for everybody else, but lament it when it applies to you.

Of course the church has an obligation to its elders that goes way beyond the market, but it is unclear whether parachurch leaders qualify.

Jon A. Alfred E. Michael J. Wile E. SWNID said...

L Richard, if by "you" you mean SWNID, you, meaning L Richard, need to sharpen your interpretive skills. We ridicule those who whine about the low pay in ministerial/professorial work, as we do those who swing and miss as we pitch sarcasm. Our reading of the gospel drives us to pursue contentment for ourself, not fairness. Envy is unseemly for all, especially those who claim to impart wisdom to others.

Or maybe you didn't read to the end of the post.