Practical tips for every day
How do we integrate our faith with our work? If you think about it, most of us will likely spend the majority of our adult (awake) lives in the workplace. A typical eight hour work day accounts for a third of the total day, with the other two-thirds devoted to sleeping, family, friends, faith, and so on. In the practice of our faith, do we consider the workplace as an opportunity to be open about our Catholic beliefs or do we ignore this vital time and only think about being Catholic the other sixteen hours a day?
I suspect many of us will agree that the workplace today is perceived as a challenging environment to be open about our Christian beliefs. Political correctness and rigid company policies have led many of us to compartmentalize our faith in an unhealthy and unnatural way. I often hear people say, “I just leave my faith at the door when I get to work.” But how can we possibly separate our spiritual from our physical being?
In Gaudium et spes, the Second Vatican Council weighed in with this declaration: “This split between the faith which many profess and their daily lives deserves to be counted among the more serious errors of our age. . . . The Christian who neglects his temporal duties, neglects his duties toward his neighbor and even God, and jeopardizes his eternal salvation. Christians should rather rejoice that, following the example of Christ Who worked as an artisan, they are free to give proper exercise to all their earthly activities and to their humane, domestic, professional, social and technical enterprises by gathering them into one vital synthesis with religious values, under whose supreme direction all things are harmonized unto God’s glory” (no. 43).
How can we overcome secular obstacles to our faith and fully embrace Christ in every aspect of our day, especially work?
The concept of being Catholic at work is a daunting idea for many and the thought of acting, thinking, and leading through the lens of our faith is an alien concept. In my profession, I encounter scores of business men and women who incorrectly perceive “faith at work” as leading Bible studies in the break room over lunch or loudly evangelizing coworkers. It rarely occurs to us to think about our own faith journeys, the example we set for others, and the Christ inspired joy we should radiate, as the most effective ways to share our faith. Letting others see Jesus Christ at work in us is a powerful form of witness that will attract others who want what we have in our lives.
Ponder the words of Pope St. John Paul II in his Apostolic Exhortation, Christifideles laici:“The fundamental objective of the formation of the lay faithful is an ever-clearer discovery of one’s vocation and the ever-greater willingness to live it so as to fulfill one’s mission” (no. 58). “The lay faithful, in fact, ‘are called by God so that they, led by the spirit of the Gospel, might contribute to the sanctification of the world, as from within like leaven, by fulfilling their own particular duties. Thus, especially in this way of life, resplendent in faith, hope and charity they manifest Christ to others’” (no. 15).
The mission of the lay faithful forces us to consider the workplace as fertile ground in which we can do God’s work. As we know from numerous Scripture passages and clear Church teaching, we are all called to lead lives of holiness and to be witnesses for Christ. Therefore, our actions in the workplace necessarily become a critical component of responding to that call.
Obstacles to Integration
There are numerous obstacles in the way of us achieving the integration of our faith with our work, but in my experience three of them consistently surface: silos, time, and surrender.