My BIL has never been a real “go-getter” in terms of his career, but is a steady, loyal worker. He’s been working the same job answering phones in customer relations for the past 15 years, making about $35K per year, enough to support his wife and 2 kids but with very little wiggle room in terms of savings in our area of the country. They have almost no money in savings. About 5 years ago, he decided to get his MBA at a local college. We were all excited by this step- he took classes evenings and weekends, took some minimal loans, and completed his degree about a year ago. Since obtaining the degree, however, he hasn’t applied for any new jobs or made any efforts to advance his position within his company. When my DH asked him why, he said that he realized that business “wasn’t for him” and he felt unfulfilled by it. Instead, he said, he is now considering entering the seminary (he is a non-denominational Protestant, we are Catholic). He’s had somewhat of a resurgence in his faith the last few years and has been volunteering with his church youth group, but that’s been the extent of his pastoring experience. He’s never been a deacon, elder, or had any kind of leadership role within the church. Aside from the fact that I think he is not the best fit for the ministry, I’m worried because he is talking about borrowing $30K in student loans per year, putting the kids on Medicaid, dropping themselves (the parents) from any kind of health insurance, and relying on food banks in order to do this- and at the end of it, he has no guarantee of a job. If he does find a pastorate, the starting salaries are close to, if not lower than, what he currently makes and he will have up to $90K in student debt. A job would also likely require him to sell his current house at a loss (he bought at the height of the housing boom) to move elsewhere.
Here’s where I’m conflicted: my DH and I have been blessed with financial success, both as a result of our hard work and some dumb luck. We make easily 5 times his salary and could afford to pay for his tuition without impacting anything other than saving for our kids’ college funds. We could pay for their groceries so that they wouldn’t have to rely on the food bank. But should we? I would hate to see them struggling so hard and especially their kids going without, but on the other hand I think this seminary thing is a monumentally bad idea. What if, five years from now, they need to file for bankruptcy? How much help is appropriate to give?
And, FWIW, my DH has already talked to him, explained his concerns, and expressed that he thinks this is not the best use of BIL’s time or money. BIL says he feels “called” to this and doesn’t want to worry about money- that will take care of itself, he believes, if he is following God’s will.