Friday, November 18, 2016

Faith and Work in Churches

Interest from churches in the integration of faith and work seems to have grown exponentially over the past few decades. That said, as far back as Martin Luther, there has been a call to view even jobs outside of ministry as a vocation or religious calling.  

I plan to update this post from time to time, and I may add more discussion, but for now, I will just list some of the church-founded or church-connected faith & work initiatives or resources below. I welcome suggestions for additions to this list.


Presentations and Panels


Business Associations, Haskell Murray, Religion | Permalink


I am very interested in this list and additions and information others are willing to share information on integration of faith and work.

Posted by: Daniel Marsh | Nov 20, 2016 6:48:47 AM

There are some excellent, and in my opinion, 'must read' resources on the subject of faith and work in Catholic Social Teaching. I'll list a couple.

The first is an encyclical, Rerum Novarum (On Capital and Labor)- (1891)(Pope Leo XIII) - -
which discusses the relationship between labor and capital. Are these always in conflict or is harmony possible? Socialist believe there can only be an antagonistic relationship between the two. so the way to resolve it, is you get rid of the classes, you centralize capital. Leo rejects the socialist approach and argues that there can be harmony between the classes, provided that workers respect the rights and duties of others as well as see themselves as heads of families.

Pope Leo also explains how since the cost of labor was based on supply and demand, that this was not moral or just. The negotiation between an individual worker and a large corporation is not necessarily a free exchange. Individual workers have little bargaining power because there's always another worker willing to work at lower pay, so consequently, capital tends to be over-compensated.

He also establishes the concept of the "just" wage.
"Vocation of a Business Leader" - A Reflection from the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace - - Is a manual for being a Business Leader by properly integrating faith into one's work. Discusses how inequality, economic dislocation, information overload, financial instability, and many other pressures leading away from serving the common good. The most significant obstacle for a business leader on a personal level to serving the common good is the split between faith and daily business practice. This split can lead to imbalances and misplaced devotion to worldly success.

Faith-based "servant leadership" is taken when doing 3 things:
(1)Seeing and understanding the effects of 4 major current movements:
- Globalization has brought efficiency and extraordinary new opportunities to businesses, but the downsides include greater inequality, economic dislocation, cultural homogeneity, and the inability of governments to properly regulate capital flows.
- Communications technology - has enabled connectivity, new solutions and products and lower costs, but its amazing velocity also brings information overload and rushed decision-making.
- Financialization of business worldwide has intensified tendencies to commoditise the goals of work and to emphasise wealth maximisation and short-term gains at the expense of working for the common good.
- Cultural Changes of our era have led to increased individualism, more family breakdowns and utilitarian preoccupations with self and “what is good for me”. As a result we have more private goods but are lacking significantly in common goods. Business leaders increasingly focus on maximising wealth, employees develop attitudes of entitlement, and consumers demand instant gratification at the lowest possible price. As values have become relative and rights more important than duties, the goal of serving the common good is often lost. These societal influences such as individualism and accompanying moral systems of relativism and utilitarianism—may arguably present the greatest dangers to Christian business leaders.

(2)Exercising proper judgement - Good business decisions are rooted in principles at the foundational level, such as respect for human dignity and service to the common good, and a vision of a business as a community of persons.

Human dignity: At the very foundation of the Church’s social tradition stands the conviction that each person, regardless of age, condition or ability, is an image of God and so endowed with an irreducible dignity or value. Each person is an end in him or herself, never merely an instrument valued only for its utility—a who, not a what; a someone, not a something. This dignity is possessed simply by virtue of being human. It is never an achievement, nor a gift from any human authority; nor can it be lost, forfeited, or justly taken away. All human beings regardless of individual properties and circumstances enjoy this God-given dignity.

Common good: The social nature of human beings, reflecting the community of the Trinity, points to another foundational principle, the importance of the common good. The Second Vatican Council defined the common good in the following way: “the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfilment more fully and more easily”. Common goods are developed between human beings whenever they act purposefully together towards a shared goal. So building a friendship, a family or a business creates a common good shared between friends, family members and all the various people involved in a business. Common goods are possible because we are relational beings who do not only have individual goals, and who do not only grow individually. We also participate in truly shared and common projects that generate shared goods from which all participants benefit. The common good embraces and supports all the goods needed to allow all human beings to develop, individually and communally.

(3)Acting - Business leaders can put aspiration into practice when their vocation is motivated by much more than financial success. When they integrate the gifts of the spiritual life, the virtues and ethical social principles into their life and work, they may overcome the divided life and receive the grace to foster the integral development of all business stakeholders. The Church calls upon business leaders to receive —humbly acknowledging what God has done for them—and to give —entering into communion with others to make the world a better place. Practical wisdom informs their approach to business and strengthens business leaders to respond to the world’s challenges not with fear or cynicism, but with the virtues of faith, hope and charity.


Catholic social doctrine really treats an economic enterprise as a community and that makes it different than the sterile, technical approach the economists use. It's a community, so there's a relationship between all the participants. They owe each other certain duties and their job can't simply be to generate the most profits they can for one participant in the community.

Many other non-negotiable principles of Catholic Social Teaching include subsidiarity, solidarity, two dimensions of private property, human dignity/flourishing, justice (to each his due), universal destination of goods, preferential option for the poor, right to a living wage, integral conception of the person. I can list other resources if anyone is interested in a more comprehensive list.

Posted by: Burner Combustion Systems LLC | Oct 10, 2017 2:07:13 AM

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