Would You Rather be Poor and Happy or Rich and Miserable?

I have to hand it to my sister and brother-in-law: they have found careers that encourage them to blend family and work life.

My sister has had a very comfortable, lengthy maternity leave and anticipates bringing their now 2-month-old daughter to work when she decides to return. I didn’t see either them work the entire week my brother and I visited them in Philadelphia – we all went sightseeing and shopping together. And when they left for three months to take care of my brother-in-law’s father who was undergoing chemotherapy, they were given projects that could be worked on no matter what city they were in. They love what they do, who they work with and never intend on leaving. So what’s their secret?

My sister and her husband are deeply religious people who work for their church. It’s a worldwide Christian organization with a large multimedia division so both of them write, edit and record books, music, videos and other such things. I believe it’s also part of their jobs to nurture and inspire younger members of the church, which includes hosting Bible studies and evening meetings. For example, while my sister and baby niece shopped with us, her husband held a small Bible study at the Food Court with a few church members. And one night, 20 of their friends came over to have dinner, sing hymns, reflect on the Bible… and eat some more (there’s a lot of eating involved!). For the record, we don’t share the same religion but I still enjoy their gatherings.

Since they work for the church, I can’t say my sister and her husband will ever be wealthy. My brother used to get upset about their lifestyle and tell me, “With all the editing skills Heidi has, she could be earning millions from a major production studio!”

But the plain truth is, they are probably happier and more fulfilled than anyone I know, and I consider them extremely successful. They live simply in a cozy townhouse, desire a bigger, healthy, happy family, and have an unbreakable faith. They seem to have found that secret place in the world where money and material items just aren’t important and where spirituality and a supportive community are all you need to get by.

Their life and mission is so selfless, admirable and completely inspiring but I can’t imagine giving my life and ambitions to the church the way they so easily do… I can’t imagine that a lot of us could or would. But no matter what religion you are or aren’t, there is something about the way they live that represents something all of us could strive for.