Baylor University in Waco, Texas, has recently completed a rather unusual study. A random sample of full time employees was surveyed on their attendance at their place of worship and whether a faith integrated message on work was emphasized. Key to this question was how that faith integration made a difference. http://www.christianheadlines.com/blog/which-church-you-attend-can-affect-your-success-on-the-job.html
Is there a noticeable impact of faith on work? As Jerry Z. Park, Ph.D who led the project, claims, “It turns out it does make some difference in their attitudes at work. That means it has a potential ‘payoff’ not only for employers, but for employees themselves.”
The study by Baylor involved three areas: job satisfaction, job commitment, and entrepreneurship. I found it quite interesting that it was determined to be an interesting contrast with entrepreneurs. These business builders in particular enjoy this faith/work integration. BUT…church impeded their work. Check it out in the link above.
As the article states, “Workplace attitudes such as job commitment also were evaluated by a variety of items that asked how much participants felt like ‘part of the family’ at their organization, how efficiently they get proposed actions through ‘bureaucratic red tape’ and whether they ‘went to bat’ for good ideas of coworkers.”
A few years ago, I began developing my own thoughts on the importance of connecting our faith with our work. It was wonderful to discover that this is being researched by many. A book from the 1980s that still gets good traction today is Your Work Matters To God, by Bill Hendricks and Doug Sherman.
I just spoke with Bill a while ago on my radio talk show in Chicago. He’s still at it…helping others determine their true giftedness and getting them to align that with their work. His organization is called The Giftedness Center. He has two levels of engagement: The Giftedness Portrait and The Giftedness Snapshot. For more information, see Bill’s website. http://www.thegiftednesscenter.com
That being said, the best more recent book I’ve come across on this topic is from the gifted pastor Tim Keller from New York City. His excellent teaching found in the book Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work would be required reading if I were to teach a course on this subject. Andy Crouch provides worthwhile reading in a Christianity Today interview with Keller that summarizes the book. http://www.christianitytoday.com/thisisourcity/7thcity/why-tim-keller-wants-you-to-stay-in-that-job-you-hate.html?paging=off
The Baylor study, however, was significant to me because it documents something we often miss. Where we choose to worship can make a big difference in our attitude toward work AND our performance. Once a person clearly understands how God blesses us with gifts and calls us to serve Him with those gifts, things change. We work differently than others. More passionately. Mondays can be a day of rejoicing! Ok…maybe that’s a LITTLE stretch.
Jesus gives us this most interesting model as recorded in Luke 22:27. He says, “Who is more important, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves? The one who sits at the table, of course. But not here! For I am among you as one who serves.” (NLT) I recommend we go and do likewise.
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Mark Elfstrand can be heard weekdays, 4-6 pm on AM 1160 WYLL in Chicago. Check the web for WYLL and the app for AM 1160 to listen live. Or by podcast.