A group of 40 business leaders gathered recently near Boston to better understand their role in applying the principles of Catholic Social Doctrine to their organizations. At the end of the weekend they wrote a "Business Person's Examination of Conscience" consisting of questions to ask themselves once they returned home.
Perhaps there are three or four questions that resonate with you. Circle them, write them down and keep them in a desk drawer you open every day. Then ask yourselves those questions each day, and when you have conquered them, go back to this list and pick three or four more. Slow, steady progress is how we grow in these matters.
Here are the questions:
In what way have I been a steward of my talents today? Do I recognize that all I have been given is a gift from God? How does this recognition change the way I think about the work that I do?
What work that I have done today is worthy of being offered to God? What could I change to have done better work?
When making career choices, do I put my family first, even if it might mean limiting my ambitions?
Does my leadership reflect the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity? Could I make a small improvement in that direction tomorrow?
Does my behavior toward my work reflect the passion of a zealous soul striving for heaven?
Do I bring difficult business decisions with me to my prayer?
Are there ways I can promote Catholic Social Doctrine teaching in my work, through example, leadership, or in policy?
Have I determined ways to promote the family in my work environment?
Did I plan my day today to include time for the most important tasks? God first, then family, then business.
Did my ambition interfere with my work for the common good?
How can I best bring Our Lord to my co-workers? List names and specific goals for each.
Is there enough evidence to convict me of being a Christian?
What have I done to recognize the dignity of my employees? My clients? My suppliers?
Do I begin each day by praying “Thy will be done” and actually meaning it?
What am I doing to encourage employees to be “subjects of work” and not be objects of a transaction?
Am I allowing the inspirations of the Holy Spirit into my family and business decisions?
What reminders of my spirituality can I post in my business that will communicate to all we are a company that respects Catholic teaching?
Have I treated anyone as simply a unit of production and not as a person with something unique to contribute?
Have I just gone through the motions today and not tried to help the common good, i.e. other workers?
Have I done something myself rather than allowing another to develop themselves by doing it in order to save time or trouble?
Have I involved myself in the lives of fellow workers or have I been afraid it will take too much of my time or resources?
Am I conscious of the gifts God has given me, and have I been a good steward of those gifts in my work today?
What have I done today to live Truth, Justice, Freedom and Love?
Do I have a plan to help those at work “become more” through the work they do?
Have I been truthful today with an employee who needs help to be more successful in his work?
Have I complimented or recognized someone today who contributed to increasing virtue in the company through their attitude, performance or suggestions?
Is there someone who deserves more freedom of action in their work? Have I recognized their potential and removed an obstacle to their success?
Was I open to the creativity of others at some point today?
Did I thank God for the opportunity to serve others in a position of leadership today?
Did I consciously think about how I glorified God through my work today?
Do I really mean “how are you doing?” when I casually make the inquiry?
Have I taken the time to ask God for direction in my work, and have I prayed about important decisions?
Do I seek to use my talents to honor God, and to help accomplish his will for me?
Do my colleagues know that I try to make business decisions informed by my faith as a Catholic?
Have I efficiently used and allocated my time today?
Have I found a healthy life balance between God, family, and my work?
Have I prayed or otherwise given time to God today, and am I listening to what he is trying to tell me?
Have I been a coach today or just a critic?
Did I trust, respect, and take “risks” with employees today?
Have I shared something today with my family about my day? Is my intent to widen their world view and perhaps introduce them to aspects of the business world?
Am I attentive to each person with whom I interact (colleague, wife, child, store clerk) when they are talking to me? Eye contact, encouraging response, positive body language...
What have I done today to help my clients focus on the need to become more aware of the spiritual needs of their employees?
Do I have a plan to learn as much as I can about Catholic Social Doctrine as it is applied in the work environment?
Do I look at each client or customer as a child of God, and do I try to understand their spiritual needs?
Do I really do everything for the Glory of God?
Do I refer to employees in a way that reflects that I, in some sense, “own” them -- “My” office manager, “my” accountant...
Have I provided the framework that allows employees to make decisions on their own without fear of reprisal for mistakes and that acknowledges their accomplishments?
To I thank employees for a job well done?
Do I volunteer to help my employees through the most challenging aspects of their job?
Have I spoken the unvarnished truth in complimenting or criticizing the work of a colleague? Is my criticism sincere and delivered with affection?
Do I provide as much freedom as possible for colleagues to place their personal mark on their work?
Do I assign responsibility and provide the authority and freedom to act, or am I constantly micromanaging? Do I help employees to become leaders?
Do I keep staff informed of all appropriate matters going on at my company or business?
Do I encourage and offer opportunities for training and professional development?
Did I personally ask my manager about how our business was doing? Did I congratulate him on any business success?