Faith at work . . . in the workplace

Marissa C. Marasigan

Marissa C. Marasigan

This Holy Week, we Filipinos who profess to be Christians will hopefully take time to reflect on the passion and resurrection of Christ. After all, what other government gives its citizens time off from work on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Black Saturday precisely to do this? (Answer: Guatemala. But in Spain, which introduced us to Catholicism, only Good Friday is a holiday. In the United States, which introduced us to Protestantism, no day in the Lenten week is observed as there is no holiday there during this week.)

In 2008, the National Organization for Research at the University of Chicago surveyed 42 countries on their beliefs about God. The survey revealed that less than 1 percent of Filipinos consider themselves as atheists. Furthermore, 84 percent say that they strongly believe in God, and 92 percent believe in a personal God. The question is whether this belief in God translates into spirituality in the workplace. In other words, are Filipinos merely Sunday Christians—i.e., who go to church on Sundays and profess to be Christians but whose everyday work—as entrepreneurs, managers, and employees—is unchanged by this profession?

In a sectarian organization such as De La Salle University, which has been offering business programs since its first decade in the country and which professes to “bridge faith and scholarship in the service of society, especially the poor,” do the faculty practice their faith at work? Curious about this, I administered the Faith at Work Scale survey of Lynn, Naughton, and VanderVeen (2009) to the College of Business (COB) faculty. This instrument is based on Judaeo-Christian teachings and measures five dimensions of spirituality: 1) called to relationship; 2) called to meaning; 3) called to community; 4) called to holiness; and 5) called to giving. Each dimension has one to five items. Respondents are asked to rate themselves on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 corresponding to “Never or Infrequently” and 5 corresponding to “Always or Frequently.”

Of the 250 faculty who were emailed, 54 replied, and their responses averaged 4.17. This means that the COB faculty who responded are often aware of their spirituality in the workplace and are able to integrate their faith with their work. On the average, they ranked themselves highest in the “called to meaning” dimension (4.33, between “often” and “always or frequently”), with the item “I believe God wants me to develop my abilities and talents at work” having the highest mean rating at 4.48. On the other hand, they rated themselves lowest in the “called to community” dimension (3.76, between “sometimes” and “often”), with the item “I sacrificially love the people I work with” having the lowest score (3.63). Interestingly, female faculty on the average rated themselves higher than male faculty did. Also, faculty in the lowest age bracket (20 to 25 years old) rated themselves lowest.

In Deuteronomy 11:18-21, the Lord instructed the Israelites, “Fix these words of Mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.” Clearly, God meant for His people to dwell on His words and live out their faith daily, not just on the Sabbath or on Sunday. And since most of our waking hours are spent in the workplace, faith at work should come as naturally as, well, faith in church.

Live, Jesus, in our hearts—in our workplace and wherever!

The writer is Vice-Chair of the Management and Organization Department of the Ramon V. Del Rosario College of Business of De La Salle University, where she teaches management and business communication. She welcomes comments at views expressed above are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official position of DLSU, its faculty, and its administration.


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