As Americans return to work under state variations of President Trump’s three-phase reopening plan, it will certainly be with a heightened sense of social responsibility. For many it will be enough to wear a mask and keep a healthy distance, but others will undoubtedly be seeking a more spiritual relationship with both their customers and coworkers.
Unfortunately, helping people satisfy their need for what some have termed “workplace theology” is not a service local pastors are trained to offer. In 1955, an industrial psychologist named O. A. Ohmann published a Harvard Business Review article called “Skyhooks,” in which he argued that being a good manager had much less to do with mastering conventional business skills than with living one’s faith on the job. Yet despite becoming one of the most widely read, frequently reprinted, and journalistically praised articles in the Review’s history, it had little impact on seminary curricula.
Today, some employees, especially at large firms like Google, Intel, Target, and American Express, do benefit from HR departments that allow faith-oriented support groups to operate within their companies. Tyson Foods, according to a February report in Christianity Today, makes 100 chaplains of various denominations available to its 122,000 people at nearly 400 locations.
But the many millions of other workers at small-to-medium size businesses are not without spiritual resources. Recent years have seen the growth of numerous, largely ecumenical non-profits dedicated to helping average Americans develop a closer connection between faith and vocation.
Perhaps the most influential of these is the Theology of Work Project, based in Peabody, Massachusetts. Dating back to 2006, when now executive editor Will Messenger and five other people from the Boston area began meeting informally to discuss the Christian concept of occupation, they eventually conducted a survey aimed at identifying those employment-related issues of greatest interest to believers.
Today, the Project publishes books, devotionals, and podcast on topics ranging from “Leadership — Beyond Rank and Power” to “Women at Work in the New Testament.” It also maintains a website with a complete Bible commentary on work and emails a free newsletter, providing content to an estimated 6.2 million people in 2019 alone.
Another popular resource is the McLean, Virginia, based Trinity Forum, founded in 1991 by author Os Guinness and US philanthropist Alonzo L. McDonald. Under the direction of its current president Cherie Harder, a former White House Special Assistant to President George W. Bush, the Forum helps interested residents of cities and towns around the US to conduct small, spiritually themed reading groups.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Lewis M. Andrews