Could I do this?
Tom Hsieh could be living the American dream. An immigrant from Taiwan, he worked hard in school, got into a good college and today heads an L.A.-based telecommunications consulting firm. His annual pay: $200,000.
So where’s the big house and fancy car? “We could have that lifestyle,” Hsieh says. “But it’s not real.” What’s real, for Hsieh, is his deep faith and desire to help others. So Hsieh, 36, wife Bree, 31, and 13-month-old daughter Kadence live on a modest $38,000 a year.
Why not? Well, alright, so my income will be lower than that. But that doesn’t mean my income will not be a great deal higher than that of many people. I’ll just say it: I’m “the rich”, rich both in God’s grace and in, well, money, even if I don’t think so sometimes. The $55,000 fake budget I made looked pretty tight. Maybe even in the Bay Area this could be further reduced.
So I already was putting in figures for rent and not mortgage (at current rates), cheap car and not luxury car, San Leandro and not Orinda, things like that. But I don’t know. Alameda County’s 2005 median family income was $74,662 (Source: kidsdata.org). I’d be making less than that. Could I really keep reducing?
There are, after all, more things to consider. I could spend less on myself, and I could even trust God to provide a wife who would choose to live that way for the sake of the kingdom. But there’s the aspect of kids’ education (not just schooling), education that goes far beyond what a public school would ever do, ever attempt, ever recognize as a positive good, one that strengthens love for God and faith in Him and instils virtue and temperance, one that challenges the student to the utmost exertion of his God-given gifts.
That could mean single income, more than one kid and homeschooling, for quite a number of years. Could I still make it, when taxes and need-based scholarships are the way they are now? Could I trust God to provide even for that? And what is the line between trusting God and being irresponsible?
For it’s a lie that you’d get the same undergraduate education at, say, the University of Chicago and UC Santa Cruz. I don’t doubt that nearly all universities have many underused resources, but when chances are high that your kids could successfully graduate from MIT and be used by God in that way – I wouldn’t want to deny that to God and to them. And no, education is not for the job or the money, although those tend to be side benefits.
(God-willing) Professor Tsang, you’re a blind beggar no matter what, and all that you have ever had, all you have now and all you will ever have is not yours but given for the service of the Lord whose grace furnished you with so many things. When will you fix your eyes on Jesus and, even knowing of the winds and the waves, scorn their power in the face of God’s glorious and omnipotent faithfulness?