As we begin a new year, have you considered how to bring your Catholic faith with you to work? Putting God first and blending your faith with every aspect of your life will promote balance and peace, and help you forge a deeper relationship with God. Of course, this is a challenge that takes time and effort.
Pursuing integration will help us become better Christians and reduce the negative effects — mental, emotional, moral — of keeping our faith separate from the rest of our lives. The challenge is to adopt new practices and strategies, not as a bunch of new “to-dos,” but as part of a broader, unifying approach to balance and integration.
We should ask ourselves, “What are some of the real and perceived obstacles we may face to living out our faith at work? What are tangible solutions for overcoming them?” There are never any simple answers and there are times when it will be more of a public struggle to overcome than an inward one. In my conversations with people over the years, the problems they raise fall into five basic categories:
1) “I am afraid of losing my job if I am open about my faith at work.”
2) “Authenticity, integrity, empathy, love, and other characteristics of Christianity are not valued in my company. In fact, they are discouraged.”
3) “I just don’t have the moral courage to be open about my faith.”
4) “I love Christ and his Church, but I don’t always know the appropriate thing to say about my faith.”
5) “I am not comfortable sharing anything personal, especially about my faith.”
Sound familiar? Here are five actionable ideas to help address these objections:
Pray. We will not succeed in this effort without a prayerful life. Say a daily rosary, pray before the Blessed Sacrament during Eucharistic adoration, pray in the morning, pray throughout the day, pray with your kids, and offer up your burdens to the Lord in prayer. Wherever, whenever you are able, just pray.
See Christ in others and allow them to see Christ in you. Look at your coworkers and clients differently. See Christ in each of them and make sure you reflect the joy of Christ back to them.
Join or start a ministry that promotes this effort. Look around your parish for ministries that might help in your effort to integrate or start one with the blessing of your pastor. I have led the business association ministry in my parish for years, where we bring professionals together in the parish (and from surrounding parishes) each month to hear local speakers from the business and professional community discuss their faith journeys. With the right structure and format, it can be the catalyst for encouraging integration on a large scale.
Know your faith. It is easier to embrace the faith in public when we better understand it. One of the underlying causes of the obstacles listed earlier is the fear that we will not be able to explain or defend our Catholicism to others. We should never stop being students, especially of our faith. We should immerse ourselves in Scripture, the Catechism, the Church Fathers, the lives of the saints. This is an important part of our duty as faithful Catholics.
Surrender and put God’s will before our own. This is the most challenging, yet the most rewarding and most necessary action. If we are humble and truly put God first in our lives, everything else will fall into place and integration will occur naturally. Consider St. Augustine’s famous motto: “Love (God) and (then) do what you will.” In other words, if you love God and his will, then you will follow God willingly.
Change starts with acknowledging that Christ should never compete for our time. Living our busy lives and putting him first are not mutually exclusive. Jesus is not to be considered an addition to our lives. He is the reason for our lives. Our employer pays us, but Christ bestows true riches.
Randy Hain, Senior Editor and co-founder of The Integrated Catholic Life™, is the author of The Catholic Briefcase: Tools for Integrating Faith and Work which was released by Liguori Publications in November 2011. The Catholic Briefcase was voted the Best Catholic Book of 2011 in the About.com Catholicism Reader’s Choice Awards. Randy’s second book, Along the Way: Lessons for an Authentic Journey of Faith was released by Liguori Publications in November, 2012. Along the Way was recently named Runner-Up in the About.com Catholicism Reader’s Choice Awards for Best Catholic Book of 2012. His third book, Something More: A Professional’s Pursuit of a Meaningful Life, was released in February, 2013.