My first job during college (other than serving tables at a restaurant) was working with JH students at a local church. It didn't pay much, but it was a great place to learn and grow in my career. I had great mentors, amazing opportunities, and I even had an office.
My office was the old kitchen from the church building that was in use from 1908- 1952. I had to gut it out and throw away 40 years of stuff that was "stored for future use" in my soon to be "state of the art" office. I nearly had to wipe the tears when I threw away Myrtle's flannel graph from 1965 that showed Jesus coming back and defeating the Communist bastard Khrushchev. I'm not sure the word bastard was on there, but any flannel graph depiction of a Russian president as the anti-Christ assumes such language. Once we gut it and cleaned it up, it got some paint and carpet and was ready to go. The problem with the office was that it was in the basement of this old church away from everyone else. The room was heated by an old boiler (covered in asbestos!). Since I was the only one down there the facilities guy refused to turn on the boiler "just so I could have heat". Did I forget to mention that this was in Washington state where it does snow from time to time and when the winter temps never go above 50. This means that the office was seldom warmer than 50 degrees.
I would use a space heater and every single day the facility guy would come into my office and tell me, "The most common cause of fires in churches is the use of space heaters". I would usually respond with something like, "The most common cause of death of youth pastors is hypothermia right in their offices". He would then say, "It beats burning to death" and then he would walk away.
Why do I tell you this story today? Here I am, one Bachelor's degree, one Master's, and some preparatory work towards a PhD later. I have worked full time in various positions for the past 12 years all to now reach the pinnacle of my career. I am in my garage, it is 50 degrees outside and raining (just like old times), and I am wearing my winter coat, my wool hat, and my Christmas snuggie. I breathe hot air into my hands when my fingers begin losing their feel. My paycheck isn't even that much higher than it was when I was 20 years old and my job entailed challenging kids to feed their friends spam while only using their feet and a rubber mallet.
And for some reason, I am content. Like a young punk who is excited to work in the job he wants, I am okay with the cold air and the plywood board resting on bricks for my desktop. I'm okay with working a second job (not unlike serving food) so that I can be a part of something I believe in.
I have all I need in life except for maybe a space heater... but I of course would hate to see the house burn down.