On 11 October we held the first of our new Dominican Forum sessions, led by Fr Nicholas Crowe OP. Here is his summary of the talk he gave on how Christians should approach their daily work.
A Christian Attitude to Work
When we were planning this series we asked people to suggest subjects that they would be interested in hearing a friar speak about. We received a number of suggestions but this question particularly caught my eye: what is a thoroughly Christian attitude to work? How does all this time we spend doing our jobs fit in to the bigger story of our Christian life as a whole? There is so much we could say in response to this question, but given our time constraints I just want to make three points.
First, as Christians we need to keep our work in perspective. As important as our job might be, and it is indeed important, it does not define us. More important than what we do is who we are and what God has done for us through the missions of the Son and the Spirit. True freedom is found when our union with God through our Lord Jesus Christ and in the Holy Spirit is at the core of our self-understanding. There is a divine horizon to our lives: God created us, He holds us in being, and He summons us to enjoy eternal happiness with Him in heaven. The successes or failures that we might have at work are indeed part of the story of our lives, but they are not the whole story.
Dignity and Value
Second, the perspective offered on our work by this divine horizon allows us to see a new and often unnoticed dignity and value in what we do on a day-to-day level and – just as importantly – a new dignity and value in what other people do. God, the primary cause of all that is, cares for his children through secondary causes, that is, the things that he himself has created – which of course means all of us and what we do day to day. Through our work, then, we can be instruments of God’s provi¬dence: the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the entertainment we enjoy, all the good things in life are gifts of God that are so often given through the labour of men and women going about their lives doing the work necessary for the well-being of society. Good work, then, is a co-operation in God’s Providence: we need to recognize with gratitude God’s providential care for us in the labour of others, and strive to ensure that we are a gift of God to our neighbour and society in return.
Finally, I want to note that if our work is indeed a co-operation in God’s Providential care for his creation, then how we do this work matters. We need to try to do our work well for the sake of others and for the sake of ourselves. The world of work, like every other aspect of our lives, is a sphere of moral and spiritual development. Through an attentiveness to the demands of charity and justice in the choices that we make, we can contribute to the building up of the Kingdom here on Earth, and be formed in the habit of co-operating with God’s plan for our own lives and His plan for the whole world.
The 'Dominican Forum' is a series of lunchtime talks in the City of London, aimed at busy professionals and offering them a convenient forum to reflect on the Christian message and discuss the challenges they face.
This first series of meetings has been kindly hosted by Smith & Williamson. A second series will be held in 2017.