What’s your calling? Or another way we might ask the question is: What is your life purpose?
What motivates you to get up and go to work every day? Is it to make money? To be your own boss some day? To provide a secure future for you and your family? Are you an entrepreneur who has a burning desire to bring a new product or service to the marketplace? Are you taking over a family business and wanting to keep it going?
Maybe it’s all the reasons above. Or maybe you’ve never really thought about it as anything more than just a job. Whatever your situation or mindset is, let me make one thing perfectly clear: no matter if you’re a business owner, a new employee, or in any position in a company, you’re in a deeply profound position of influence, whether you want to be or not. What is your sphere of influence where you work?
You’re daily making decisions that affect people’s lives in numerous ways. Your job is every bit as important as being a pastor in a formal, religious setting such as church. I’ll go even further to say you’re probably even more influential than most pastors, because you get to spend forty, fifty, or even sixty hours per week with these folks, compared to just a few hours a week that the religious professionals spend with their constituents.
Not only that, you contribute to the financial livelihood, medical care, and to a large extent, the emotional and spiritual health of those around you. You have the power to create an environment that builds them up as God’s beloved creations. Or you can tear people down, using and abusing them as mere objects or tools to make you money.
Everyone plays a role in creating a life-affirming culture in the workplace. You help set the tone of how much (or little) your coworkers are valued and appreciated. You’re also able to either allow them to express their unique gifts and talents—or not. You have a unique role to play in developing and growing the morals and ethics in your workplace. It’s in the culture you help create that allows them to grow in their capacity to communicate, and to trust and love others.
You also play a role in reining in the dark sides of others, since being in relationship means calling out and confronting selfishness, bitterness, laziness, jealousies, and prejudices, as these can’t be tolerated if you’re striving to have your organization exhibit true inner goodness.
Either you embrace this role and recognize it as one of your primary responsibilities in making your workplace better, or you ignore it and eventually wonder why your company is struggling. Ultimately, we all contribute to making our workplaces better or worse. Which side are you on?
Now, if you’ve been in the workplace for a while, please don’t think that I’m trying to put a guilt trip on you, that you’re not living up to some super-spiritual sense of calling. On the contrary, it’s my hope that you’ll be affirmed not only to realize how awesome you are for having the courage and compassion to go to work every day and provide goods, services, and jobs—but that you’ll also be inspired to live on a new level of faith, as you recognize how pivotal a role you play in the kingdom of God.
In my quest to make sense of what I’m doing as I work in a gear shop that smells of cutting oil, steel, and cast-iron dust, I’ve come to realize that much of what we have come to believe or think about Christianity has much less to do with going to church than it does with the kingdom of God. The words are pretty impressive, especially if you think of James Earl Jones or someone else with a deep baritone voice booming it out. Simply “going to church” doesn’t sound nearly as compelling as the kingdom of God, does it?
“Everyone plays a role in creating a life-affirming culture in the workplace.”
As I read the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) as a teenager and took in four different accounts of the life of Jesus, I was impressed by how similar they were and yet different. I later came to understand that it was like four different eyewitnesses giving their story of how they saw and understood a particular time in history. I noticed right away that there wasn’t nearly as much talk about “being saved” or church attendance as there was about God’s “kingdom.”
I tend to think Jesus’ words about the new “kingdom” resonated on a much deeper level with His listeners than it does with us today. But that doesn’t mean His words don’t have huge ramifications for those of us in business or in positions of affluence and influence. In fact, I propose that seeking God’s kingdom and His righteousness should or could be the determining factor in how we conduct business.
As Dallas Willard points out in his book The Divine Conspiracy, in the Greek, the righteousness Jesus spoke of is not just a set of moral principles, or an ethic of perfection. Jesus’ word choice for righteousness could be defined as the quality in people that makes us really right or good—or, in short, “true inner goodness.” But it’s not our own subjective definition of goodness; rather it is God Himself, the ultimate standard and reality of goodness. He is what we should seek. For in so doing, our inner most being is transformed to a vessel of His true inner goodness.
Isn’t that what we all long for in our lives? Consider a world where we knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that our government leaders exhibited true inner goodness in their public service, truly being public servants. What would it be like to work for a boss and company that embodied true inner goodness in how they treated employees, vendors, and customers? Imagine a world where advertisers, car sales staff, pastors, priests, roofers, plumbers, the IRS, union bosses, insurance companies, financial advisors, managers, administrators, and anyone else in authority were truly good.
It’s hard to think the world could be like this, yet this is the life Jesus sees for us.
You want to make a difference in the world? True inner goodness is a force to be reckoned with.
Or maybe you simply want to earn a decent living, support your family, and have a clear conscience in doing so? I’ve yet to come up with anything better than seeking God’s kingdom and His true inner goodness.
by Dave Hataj
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