Cruising the net a while back, I found an article that I thought was amazing. Amazing may be strong but nonetheless it stopped me cold. Students at a high school in Wilbury Connecticut will get money for passing AP exams. See for yourself: http://wcbstv.com/topstories/CT.Exam.Cash.2.700819.html. When I was a senior in high school, these AP courses were just coming out. I had AP Biology with a wonderfully demanding short-just-recovered-from-cancer-pistol-of-a-woman teacher. She was excellent and the class was brutal.

In the last few years, I’ve met kids who take multiple AP courses – torturous (and what for?). Nonetheless, what’s the deal with this school in CT? I know the article doesn’t indicate any foul play by the school (funding provided by a grant) but the concept of financial rewards for difficult jobs is so mercenary.

No doubt it will be effective as it appeals to our baser motives: avarice and accomplishment. But what it provides is a lesson in “why you should do things hard.” Of course, the short answer is “you will make money.” But what if that isn’t actually the answer most often given in life? Am I baiting my children with the promise of higher rewards (good college, a BS, nice trophy spouse, sizeable diploma, pride, big fat salary) in order to get them to do something hard? Man will that backfire.

Tell that to Justin Martyr.

Justin’s Second Apology was written soon after Marcus Aurelius became emperor in 161. In these writings, Justin tried to show that the Christian faith alone was truly rational. He taught that the Logos (Word) became incarnate to teach humanity truth and to redeem people from the power of the demons.

Four years later, Justin and his disciples were arrested for their faith. When the prefect threatened them with death, Justin said, “If we are punished for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, we hope to be saved.” They were taken out and beheaded.

(from http://www.christianitytoday.com/history/special/131christians/martyr.html )

Not too many beheading these days (at least in the West). However, when our children grow up and are asked by God, the church, or their conscience to step up to something that has no financial benefit whatsoever (but is right), will they have been trained to do it?

Now, maybe I’m being dramatic. But, at the most greatly esteemed and feared United States Military Academy (from which I graduated), they made us fold our socks so they smiled. Why? Did it matter all that much? Not in the moment. But, if I were to have been planning a combat mission, would attention to detail be important? Of course. And how would I have learned it? With my socks.