Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States
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Matthew 13:22 (NKJV): "Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful."

My father wants me to work and not read the Bible more than 30 minutes per day. He also allowed me to study one branch of engineering though he wanted me to study a different branch.

Jesus said you cannot serve God and mammon. You are serving mammon when you make it your priority and not to win souls to God’s kingdom. My college friend says if you want more people to become Christian, you have to be successful.

I know some people do not like Joel Osteen, but he encourages pursuing dreams and says when you come to the end of life, God is going to ask what you did with your talents.

Many celebrities teach nothing is impossible. One said that the word impossible itself means, I'm possible.

I want to go to art school so I can get the confidence to draw so I can work in graphic design and maybe make my own cartoon or some independent video games. I want to Learn Arabic and many other skills.  But I wonder if all that is for my ego. Is there anything wrong with that? Surely, God doesn't mind us being happy with learning a new skill, but I wonder if all that is a distraction from serving God with the talent I have which is spending time in church to hear the word of God as Mary did and not as Martha. However, Jesus still praised the getting of more talents.

Is it wrong to learn new things for your own sake and not seeing how it can be used to serve God? How does one know it is time to stop pursuing dreams and serve God by hearing the word of God and being able to rightly divide the word of truth and grow in knowledge and the fruits of the Spirit?

Your talents, interests, and energy are God given gifts to use for His glory. There is nothing that you mentioned that would lead one to think that your pursuits are for vainglory. Certainly Mary, the sister of Martha, did not simply sit around all day and do no service at all, but she made the wise decision on that day to sit at the Lord's feet. This was more needed than service at that point in time. Monastics are required to live a life of perpetual prayer, with labor sufficient for providing for their basic needs. Monastics are required to pray for the majority of God loving Christians who are in the trenches all day in the world—the lambs amongst wolves. Monastics also need to pray for the lost souls and the unbelievers and all who ask and do not ask for prayer. This is a calling for some. For the rest, who remain in the world, they too have a calling. The apostles were not monastics. Their calling and service required that they live in the world. The parents of the monastics had to be part of the world and raise God fearing and God loving children. These all will receive their crowns because of their faithfulness in their calling and vocations.

Your father is probably trying to expose you to a balanced and practical life, concerned that you may be leaning toward a vocation that would limit your potential. This is also wise. If you have the time to take extra courses, and can still fulfill all your other obligations, then do so. Just because you live in the world or experience success in the world, does not mean that the world is in you and dictates your spiritual life. God is our priority, joy, and longing; but we all have different paths to take in order to serve Him best. Think about the new Christian martyrs of Libya. Though we do not know all of their stories, we know that these were young men who ventured off to Libya to make money for their families. Maybe some were married, some had children, others still engaged; perhaps some just wanted to help their siblings and parents with their finances. Ultimately, God won their hearts. When death came upon them because of their faith, their faith arose above all—their families, and even their own lives. Thus, they accepted martyrdom and the world received another chapter of real evangelism through these young men who proclaimed their faith at knifepoint.

Pray and ask the Lord to lead you unto that path of your salvation and to give your father peace with your decision.
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