When we think of the phrase “faith at work,” some conventional images might come to mind: a priest or nun caring for the poor, a religion teacher explaining the faith. But we don’t need to have an openly religious job for our faith to be relevant. Any honest and upright work is holy, and an opportunity to grow closer to God. As Pope John Paul II once reminded us, Jesus himself worked as a carpenter, and “Through their work, people share in the Creator’s work.”
Here are a few ways to keep faith in the picture at your job:
Start with a prayer. Before your day begins, take a few moments to ask God to guide you through the day. Here’s a simple prayer you could try: Guide my hands, God, to work as You would work. Guide my lips, God, to say what You would say. Guide my heart, God, to do what You would do.
Recognize what’s holy in your work. How does your job help others? In ways big and small, how can what you do make someone’s life better? A former bank teller I know always made a special effort to connect with customers, some of whom lived isolated lives. “You might be the only person they see that day,” she said.
Be an invisible hero. With a little creativity, it’s possible to avoid or resolve ethical dilemmas without coming across as self-righteous and intrusive. When a staff meeting threatens to turn into a gossip fest, we can subtly redirect the conversation. When a coworker pitches a morally questionable solution to a company problem, we can search for and propose a better alternative. When a project fails, we can own our share of the mistakes instead of throwing a colleague under the bus.
Invite God into the chaos. Racing toward a deadline? Facing a daunting meeting? Feeling unmotivated? Sharing our feelings with God and asking for help can give us perspective and calm, not to mention a boost to our spirits.
Look for God in others. It’s tough to remember when dealing with an angry customer, irresponsible coworker, or unkind boss, but God is indeed in everyone. Whether or not you find it possible to put yourself in their shoes, ask yourself: How can the best in me respond to the worst in them? If they fail to react in kind, you can walk away with your head held high. But sometimes, you’ll have the reward of seeing your efforts restore calm and courtesy to an unpleasant situation.
Find hidden treasure. Just because a talent or skill isn’t written up in your job description doesn’t mean you can’t use it. What unexpected opportunities might your job offer to use your gifts and passions? Maybe you have a great sense of humor that’s perfect for diffusing office tension, or a creative flair that could inspire innovation in a depressed company. The more of ourselves we use in our jobs, the more we can find fulfillment no matter where we work.
from Julie Rattey, senior editor/writer at Boston University, author of Pocket Prayers for Young Professionals (Twenty-Third Publications) and a contributing writer with Catholic Digest and America magazines.