Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 22, 2003
Sure you take your own ethics to work
One of the personal sidelights I had when I covered the World Youth Day in Toronto was meeting a great number of editors, reporters and photographers from all over the world.
When I came home, I collected business cards of journalists who might connect me to potential employers. One even offered me a job outright.
"Come down to Syracuse. We always need a good ethics and religion reporter."
One reporter from Germany told me we could collaborate. "You write in English, I'll translate them to German."
It was tempting. It's not everyday that you get a chance to even glimpse such opportunities. I would be dishonest if I would say I did not revel in these possibilities.
I had a short-lived career in the secular press when I worked for the top tabloid in Manila. An extremely high level of competition was not only presumed, it was promoted and practised.
My friend Niles Jordan Breis told me, "I hope one day you wake from the dream that you can keep your values intact while working for a highly suspect company."
I felt divided by the need to make money on the one hand, yet wanting to live according to the teachings of Jesus Christ on the other hand. Not very many people hold close in their hearts that it is possible to do both. Most people believe that getting ahead means you are motivated by greed and that this feeling and Christian principles are mutually exclusive.
Eventually I listened to Niles' prodding that I leave the paper as well as to the wisdom of Mahatma Gandhi, "Ride on a tiger's back and you'll end up in its mouth."
In today's world of escalating unemployment and downsizing, are Christian work ethics an asset or a liability?
Are we just resigned to the fact that if we want to be witnesses to our faith in our workplace, we have to carefully pick and choose the companies we would work for? And what should I priorize, my faith or my career?
Now that I am older and have had more life experience, I don't believe Christian work ethics are a liability if one wants to succeed.
I'm sure that being a good example in the workplace still counts for something, that being objective and trying to make wise and respected decisions are Christian values still needed today.
Show outstanding personal integrity. Demonstrate fairness, care and accountability.
One value I learned when I began my inculturation to Canadian society was assertiveness -assertiveness in a way that is not arrogant, but simply being honest about how I feel about something and saying it and not letting others guess what I think.
It is difficult to pick and choose companies to work for if we want to stick by the rule saying we will only work for companies that promote Christian values. I am not saying no companies are like that anymore. It's just that businesses today do not necessarily put in black and white that they uphold Christian values or that they live by contradictory values.
I think one way of approaching the situation is to take it as a challenge: that is, to personally stick to your Christian values.
By being a good example for others, you can take it as a ministry to them in your workplace. It won't be easy, because the Lord does not promise to us an easy road to his kingdom.
Doing things the Lord's way is never a liability, because short-term adversity buys long-term gain.
And it's good to always remember, God has a bigger plan than our chequing account.
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