OK, this may seem like a weird post, but bear with me a bit…
In my life as an actuary, I took exams. A lot of exams. And I spent a lot of time studying for those exams. A lot of time. If you are an actuary or are married to one, you know what I am talking about.
As I was cleaning my office a bit today, I came across some of that study material. Here’s a sample of one of the many lists I had memorized for one exam. (I know if won’t make sense out of context, but, again, bear with me…)
[Credit where it is due: That list came from p.115 of the JAM study guide for 2002 for Exam 6 by Mike Carmody, FSA. His materials were a great help, and I always thought his seminars were excellent. I always appreciated his willingness to let me go through his overhead slides on Saturday night or Sunday since I always missed the portion of his seminar that fell on the Sabbath. His seminars and materials are still around for those who need them: www.studyjam.com. He was a fantastic instructor, and I can’t imagine that has changed.]
Having been a pastor now for several years, I have no need for that study guide anymore, nor those lists (or the many, many, many, many, many additional lists that went along with this one).
Yet, it is startlingly hard for me to throw those study guides away.
Again, it’s not that I need the material. It’s not that I think some current actuary might need them — the material gets dated fairly quickly, and the exam systems change every few years. It’s not that they make for pleasurable reading (though the graphs I drew as notes on page 146 are pretty cool). It’s not even that I like the material, though I did enjoy it on some level.
Rather, it’s a matter of Matthew 6:21 —
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
And I have a lot of “treasure” tied up in those materials. In fact, given that 2002 was the first of multiple attempts at Exam 6 for me, I have a lot of treasure tied up in that specific exam. It isn’t necessarily monetary treasure, though that was certainly involved. But the time, the energy — the blood, sweat, and toil that went into that study and those exams… That’s “treasure” just as much as the money that was spent, perhaps even more so.
As someone taught me once, that comment made by Jesus Christ is more than just a way to find out where your heart currently is (though it is great for that). It is also a way to place your heart somewhere, for better or for worse. The more we spend that “treasure” on something, the more of ourselves we invest there, and the more attached we become to it.
Consequently, there is a great deal of my heart tied up in that material, even if I will never, ever, ever use it again. Not that I think I will ever go back to that life — I’m committed to the task to which God has called me and He has something to say to those who begin to plow while looking back in Luke 9:62. But still, it’s hard to toss that study guide into the trash can.
Still, I’m going to. I need the space, and my office needs the focus. And so does the office’s occupant.
“Major Steps in Asset Allocation,” we’ll always have Paris. Or… Nashville, I suppose. 🙂