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Catholic CEO

How Church teachings can help us build better organizations





Spirituality at work (#25)

25. Fortunately, new movements and programs have been developed in an effort to take moral and spiritual life more seriously in relation to business.  Faith-and-work groups, spirituality of work programs, business ethics training and social responsibility projects, are all helping business leaders to manage their companies in the spirit of St. Paul’s exhortation: “But test everything; hold fast what is good” (1 Thes 5:21).   Many of these groups and movements are enabling business leaders to recognise their work as a vocation and the role their businesses play in contributing to the common good. 


Commentary:  There are many ways to express spirituality at work: convening prayer groups, providing a helping hand to those in need, setting aside a quiet place where employees can meditate.  These are all positive, wonderful things to do.

However, if someone returns from a meeting or meditation and reverts to a life of seeing work primarily as a way to accumulate wealth and treating employees as elements of production, then the common good has been ill-served.

The challenge the Church's social doctrine presents is to put the dignity of the human person first in all that we do.  This is very difficult, as we are often managed by metrics and it's difficult to assess dignity on a measurable scale.  It's easy to measure worker productivity or unit profitability, but difficult to ascertain if we have done all we could do to enhance the dignity of our employees and other stakeholders.  Work is for the person, not the person for work, as we are reminded by St John Paul II.  This requires a radical change in how we view people, but once we begin doing that we will begin building a true spirituality at work.