Why Is It So Hard to Connect Spiritual Value to Our Work?
Sometimes it seems like God is everywhere, except at work.
We behold His glory in the sanctuary. We extol His handiwork in the landscapes, sky and sea. We consider His tender mercies in the warmth of loved ones. But now pan the camera over to the manufacturing plant floor, or to the rows of cubicles in the corporate office tower, and – Whoops! Where’d He go? Wasn’t that Him right there in the car with me when I drove in?
I don’t know when this happened, or why, or who’s to blame, but our society has somehow lost its natural ability to associate spirituality with our daily labor. Instead, we have been brainwashed by the church, our culture, or corporate correctness into thinking that we must compartmentalize our lives, leaving spirituality to Sundays or morning devotions or volunteering at the food bank. But certainly not on that next sales call.
Fundamentally, the problem is this: our culture has no framework for approaching work from a spiritual point of view. There is no context, no point of reference. It simply does not exist.
We didn't learn about it in church. Few of us were taught that business or career development was held in high esteem as a valid expression for glorifying God. We didn't learn about it in B-school. Although many business schools teach ethics and corporate responsibility, they are certainly not about to link any of it to the inner workings of a manager’s spiritual life. And you won't find a training session on spiritual self-awareness coming from your HR department. Talking about one’s spiritual beliefs in the workplace is pretty much taboo these days.
So there you have it. That vast sucking sound you hear is a massive workforce with no clue how to access their spiritual resources at their jobs. And this, my friends, is the sad state of affairs playing itself out every day in the marketplace.
But look: if we can acknowledge that God is all knowing, all present, and all powerful, then surely he is here at our jobs, working through us to bring about the greater good and further His kingdom wherever we find ourselves employed. Quite simply, the problem is not with God, it’s with us. We’ve got to do a better job of revealing God’s presence in the workplace.
And since there is no cultural context, then guess what? You must create your own context. You must face that blank slate and make it up as you go, even if it doesn’t fit what you’ve been told all your life. You might have to use your spiritual imagination to see God’s hand at work in that next presentation, to pray for your boss under pressure, to grasp the infinite potential for goodness and mercy and righteousness that is literally at your fingertips.
So, ladies and gentlemen, I hereby give each of you permission to include your spiritual life as a vital component of your work and career life. Creating this new framework, though, will not be easy. You will need help. We will need each other to prod, to remind, to encourage and to challenge. This is why spaces like The High Calling are so critical; a gathering place where we can begin to figure it out; a cherished community to nourish our spiritual selves in light of our everyday work lives. Together, we will remember. We will forge the path. We will come to realize the full potential of God’s spirit in the workplace.
Image by Jakub Holocek. Used with permission via Flickr.