Do We Really Want to Integrate Our Faith and Our Work?

Underlying much of the “faith and work” movement and many of the books on the subject is the assumption that religious people want to connect their faith and their work.  In a recent presentation to the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, Rice University sociologist Brandon Vaidyanathan questioned this assumption and made some very interesting observations based on his research.During his presentation, he raised the provocative issue that perhaps people usually see faith and work as two competing spheres with separate devotions and would actually prefer to keep them separate.

I think he is on to something important, but I think the problem is not so much that there is a necessary conflict between faith and work, but rather how we understand (or misunderstand) the nature of one or the other or perhaps both.

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Work Engagement and The Value of Workplace Spirituality

Work engagement — the degree to which we are engaged in our work — is an important issue. The level of engagement of employees and volunteers is critically important for the health of organizations. And from the perspective of the individual doing the work, whether employed or self employed, it would be difficult to find satisfaction and fulfillment in work with which we are not fully engaged.

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Find Your Calling — Music and Acorns

MusicianA few months ago I attended a retreat that focused on Celtic spirituality.  At one point, the retreat leader used a very appealing metaphor – find your own music.  He told a story of Irish musicians who, before playing, would quietly listen inwardly “to hear the music.”  He challenged us to listen for our own music, and then to play it through our lives.  I took this as a metaphor for a calling. We think of a calling as something we are called to do, as a life mission of sorts.  Sometimes we hear people express it as something that comes from beyond ourselves, as in “I was called by God to do . . .” But people also talk of it as something that comes from from deep within us, like our own music for which we need to listen.

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The Role of Congregations in Faith/Work Integration

photo of churchBaylor University sociologists Jerry Park, Jenna Rogers, Mitchell Neubert, and Kevin Dougherty released a new study looking at the role of congregations in encouraging healthy work attitudes. The study found that there tended to be higher ratings for affective organizational commitment and job satisfaction if the respondent’s congregation placed a higher value on work and the respondent had higher involvement with the congregation (as measured by attendance).  If either element was missing (less importance placed on work by the congregation or less frequent attendance) then there appeared to be no positive benefit.

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Serious Business: Why It Matters (Article by Tony Mulkern)

Tony Mulkern PhotoWe are pleased to offer on our Work as a Calling page (link) an article (link) by CFE friend Tony Mulkern on the value of business and business vocations. (Serious Business: Why It Matters).  Tony summarizes some of the arguments made by Michael Novak during his CFE sponsored speaking tour a few years ago, and then concludes with his own advise to business owners:

“When you wonder if it is all worth it, remember that you are a symbol, an example, and one of the drivers of a free people freely creating wealth, a society, and a world in which all can pursue their dreams, consistent with the freedom of others.”

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Abraham Zaleznik, RIP

Zaleznik photoAbraham  Zaleznik was a professor of leadership at The Harvard Business School for 43 years and a certified psychoanalyst.  He was also the author of a very important, and famous, 1977 Harvard Business Review article: Managers and Leaders: Are They Different?  To understand the impact of his article,  one should remember that when written there was much less of an understanding that leadership is quite different from management; Zaleznik was on the leading edge of the wave. Zaleznik also had the ability to convey some of the psychological differences between leaders and managers and their formation and did so in a way that is still valuable.

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De Pree Center Conference

Last weekend I attended the conference put on by the Max De Pree Center for Leadership and found it to be excellent — very worthwhile.  The discussions focused on applying the approach to leadership advocated by Max De Pree, and included two articulate...

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Church and Vocation

There have been a number of comments made in reference to the Barna Group’s research that suggests younger adult Christians are having trouble connecting their faith with their work: “In particular, 84% of Christian 18- to 29-year-olds admit that they have...

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