Category: Finding Purpose
Entrepreneurs and the Renewal of Hope
People are worried. Confidence in the economy and the direction of society continues to drop in the face of new threats. Anxiety is natural as we move into an uncertain future.
But our ancestors survived threatening circumstances and created a better world, and so will we. Despite our problems, we can still contribute to the greater good and build better lives, each in our own way.
For those of us in business, this means working with courage and hope as we identify new opportunities and work to build a better future.
Why Work? (Comments on Dorothy Sayers’ Famous Essay)
A Response to a Classic Essay on Work
In her 1942 essay “Why Work?” Dorothy Sayers made a strong case that we should not undertake work for the money it provides but instead for the sake of the work itself. This is a compelling idea that pushes back against some of the negativity surrounding the concept of work. I find her main argument appealing but would nevertheless like to challenge a couple of the points she makes.
Prayer and the Development of a Sense of Mission
A Reflection on Mark 1:35-39
In this recording we talk about a time when Jesus went off and prayed by himself in the earlier morning hours, while it was still dark, and emerged with a clearer, more powerful sense of mission. This passage might have some important insight for us on the relationship between prayer and the sense of mission we bring to our work.
iTunes / Stitcher / Google Play or
Video Archive: Michael Novak on Business as a Calling
In April 2010, the Center for Faith and Enterprise brought scholar Michael Novak (1933-2017) to California for a speaking tour. We sponsored speaking events at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena (hosted by the Max De Pree Center for Leadership), Biola University in La Mirada, and La Canada Presbyterian Church in La Canada/Flintridge.
At La Canada Presbyterian, the subject was Business as a Calling. In this talk, Novak provided an update on his thinking fourteen years after the publication of his classic book by the same name.
Michael’s observations remain very insightful for today’s business environment.
Risk and Opportunity
And the Call of Abraham.
Most of us encounter both risk and opportunity in our work lives – and sometimes a great deal of both. How we understand and respond to these can make a big difference in our work lives and in how we live.
This was true for Abraham many thousands of years ago when he willingly faced great risk, responded to a great opportunity, and did so in the belief that he was being called by God.
We need to look squarely at the reality of risk. It is present to some degree in each of our lives and attempting to deny it is likely to lead to a painful and unexpected awakening in the future. On the other hand, we also need to be alert to opportunity and not be dominated by our fears.
Our faith and spirituality can help. . .
iTunes / Stitcher / Google Play or
Work As Service To Others
There are great many products and services, and a great many jobs, that are needed to build and maintain a flourishing society: those who produce food and other goods, distributors and retailers, communicators of various kinds, accountants, lawyers, and administrators, and many, many others.
And here we have a problem – – a problem of perception. The contribution of the people doing many of these jobs goes unappreciated, at least in religious contexts.(Time: 9:01)
Listen on:iTunes / Stitcher / Google Play or
When Callings Become Burdensome
An acquaintance in his late 20s made a very interesting observation a few days ago. He said that finding a calling has become a serious problem for people his age – – but not in the way that I had expected.
His contention was that there has been so much emphasis, especially among his peer group, to find your calling, or to follow your passion, that the concept has become burdensome. Rather than finding a job that pays some money and seems to have a future, many people feel they are under a great deal of pressure to find not only a job but a calling. This has made it more difficult for them to get on with life.
Part of the problem, of course, is that it can take a long time to find or develop a calling, as Bryan Dik and Ryan Duffy point out in their book Make Your Job a Calling: How the Psychology of Vocation Can Change Your Life at Work. This can lead to a great deal of frustration if we try to rush the process.
But I think there might be more going on here.
The Ups and Downs of Following a Calling
In this special edition we interview solar energy professional Tom King. Tom has a very interesting story to tell about finding and following a calling, and the ups and downs this can involve. Along the way he has worked in a variety of fields — coaching college sports, construction, information technology, a small food start up, produce distribution, and now solar energy. Tom has picked up several important insights which he shares with us.
This is our first interview; let us know if you like the format and we will do more.
Listen on: (Time: 17:10) iTunes / Stitcher / Google Play or
The Quest for the Sacred: The Story of King Herod and the Wise Men
The story of the wise men – – also known as the Magi – – is one of the great stories of the Bible. The late James Dittes of Yale saw in the story a battle between two conflicting aspects of our human nature, a drive for stability and control, and a drive to forsake stability and control in order to pursue a quest for the sacred. In the story, the desire for stability and control is represented by Herod and the quest for the sacred is represented by the wise men.
Both are necessary and contribute to human flourishing.
The drive for stability, in its uncorrupted form, is important to us. It provides the foundation for the coherence that helps us make sense of daily life. It enables us to make decisions regarding our work, our family, and other areas of our lives. Too much turmoil makes it almost impossible to make clear decisions and to build effectively for the future.
But the quest is important too. What I am calling the quest has to do with our search for the sacred, for transcendence, for meaning. We can think of the quest as the natural outgrowth of the intuitive human desire to connect with something deeper than ourselves – to experience a deeper sense of connection with God. It is as though over the course of our lives we are being drawn to God.
Listen on: (Time: 11:37) iTunes / Stitcher / Google Play or
Most of us have had times when we seem to be going backwards in our career or in our work life. Or maybe times when we seemed to be dead in the water while everyone else was moving forward.
But in these situations are we really moving backwards? Or might there be something going on, out of sight – – something that is laying the foundation for new growth – – something of which we might be completely unaware?
There is hope.
We might not be able to change our objective circumstances, at least in the short run, but we can control our response. . .
Listen on: iTunes / Stitcher / Google Play or
Ralph Waldo Emerson on Vocation
From a sermon preached by Ralph Waldo Emerson at the Second Church, Boston, October 21, 1832:
How many men now regard their business as so much interruption, as so much injury to their religious life? Their religious character is something separate from their daily actions. If instead of this each man worked in his favorite calling in the way and according to the principles of his own inward Teacher – and therefore with love – if he saw in every day’s labor that he was thereby growing more skillful and more wise; that he was co-operating with God in his own education, so that every dollar he earned was a medal of so much real power, — the fruit and means of so much real goodness; if neither his working hours nor his rest was lost time, but all was helping him onward, — would not his heart sing for joy? Would not the day be brighter and even the night light about him? Would not company be more pleasant and even solitude be sociable and his life reveal a new heaven and a new earth to his purer eyes?
The concept of calling can mean different things to different people, and in fact there are several different definitions in use by scholars of the subject. But I think Emerson points to something that should not be left out —
Passion and Our Work
We sometimes hear that we should “follow our passion”. But what happens when we actually do have a passion for our work – or maybe for some aspect of our work? Is this positive? Or is it negative? Actually, according to psychologist Robert Vallerand, it could be either one — depending on the type of passion. Vallerand has written a very interesting and valuable book called the Psychology of Passion: A Dualistic Model in which he proposes that there are two types of passion: harmonious and obsessive. This has important implications for our work lives, which we explore in this episode.
Listen on: iTunes / Stitcher / Google Play or
Developing a Deeper Sense of Mission and Purpose: Can Prayer Help?
Most of us would probably like to work with a deeper sense of purpose and mission; maybe prayer can help. This episode begins with story about a time when Jesus went off and prayed by himself in the early morning hours. You might find it has something important to say about a possible connection between prayer and the sense of purpose or mission we bring to our work. In this connection, we also discuss receptive prayer as a helpful spiritual practice.(Time: 7:20)
Listen on iTunes / Stitcher / Google Play or
A Theology of Entrepreneurship
The Entrepreneurial Calling: Perspectives from Rahner by the late William J. Toth of Seton Hall is an extraordinary theological reflection on the entrepreneurial vocation and the deeper significance of the entrepreneur’s hope, risk, and service to others. A central concept for Toth was that of “providential love.” This concept combines the idea of looking forward and anticipating the future with a desire to create something of value for others. The entrepreneur intends to create part of the future, but at the same time recognizes that success or failure will be determined by others who are free to accept or reject the offer made by the entrepreneur.
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.
Find Your Calling — Music and Acorns
A 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.
Serious Business: Why It Matters (Article by Tony Mulkern)
We 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.”
Neil Gaiman: “Make Good Art!”
A friend passed along a link to the Neil Gaiman commencement address that has received a lot of attention on YouTube. I can see why -- Gaiman makes a strong and inspiring case for devoting ourselves to "make good art". A highlight is when he goes through a litany of...
Abraham Zaleznik, RIP
Abraham 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.
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 no idea how...