According to many people I’ve encountered, the answer is: nothing.
Thankfully, not everyone thinks that’s true. Recently, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace released a new resource entitled Vocation of the Business Leader: A Reflection. It’s well worth reading. Consider the following two paragraphs from the document’s Executive Summary:
When businesses and market economies function properly and focus on serving the common good, they contribute greatly to the material and even the spiritual well-being of society. Recent experience, however, has also demonstrated the harm caused by the failings of businesses and markets. The transformative developments of our era—globalisation, communications technologies, and financialisation — produce problems alongside their benefits: inequality, economic dislocation, information overload, financial instability and many other pressures leading away from serving the common good. Business leaders who are guided by ethical social principles, lived through virtues and illuminated for Christians by the Gospel, can, nonetheless, succeed and contribute to the common good.
Obstacles to serving the common good come in many forms —lack of rule of law, corruption, tendencies towards greed, poor stewardship of resources—but the most significant for a business leader on a personal level is leading a “divided” life. This split between faith and daily business practice can lead to imbalances and misplaced devotion to worldly success. The alternative path of faith-based “servant leadership” provides business leaders with a larger perspective and helps to balance the demands of the business world with those of ethical social principles, illumined for Christians by the Gospel. This is explored through three stages: seeing, judging, and acting, even though it is clear that these three aspects are deeply interconnected.
– Vocation of a Business Leader: A Reflection (Executive Summary)
As a grateful convert to the Church, I continue to learn from and appreciate the richness in her teachings. The topic of this document is of particular interest, having spent over twenty years in financial and leadership roles. Among the joys of my life is involvement in the Columbus chapter of Legatus, a wonderful organization of business leaders (I am privileged to serve as President of the chapter this year). Of course, having written the book Faith at Work: Finding Purpose Beyond the Paycheck and now speaking frequently on the topic, I’m always looking for good material too!
So what better way to celebrate a solid document than to launch a series based on its reflections? That’s what I’m looking forward to doing here at grateful convert. I hope it inspires you to consider the opportunities our work provides to grow in our faith, and to truly put ourselves at the service of God and others in our lives.
One of my favorite parts of the executive summary is its warning against leading a “divided” life, and exhortation to “servant leadership.” I look forward to exploring these topics in greater depth in future posts. Many thanks to Peter K. A. Cardinal Turkson (pictured above) for his leadership of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and this wonderful reflection.
As a final note, I can’t resist thanking two more people for their inspiration and friendship: fellow authors Randy Hain and Andreas Widmer.
Randy is the author of The Catholic Briefcase: Tools for Integrating Faith and Work and the forthcoming Along the Way: Lessons for an Authentic Journey of Faith. He and Deacon Mike Bickerstaff founded the Integrated Catholic Life e-Magazine, and it’s a tremendous resource for those seeking the antidote to the aforementioned “divided” life! Randy has been a constant source of encouragement for me over the past couple years, and it would be difficult for me to overstate my regard for him as a business leader, family man, and committed Catholic.
Andreas Widmer is a former Swiss Guard who authored the book The Pope & The CEO: John Paul II’s Leadership Lessons to a Young Swiss Guard and just unveiled a new web initiative, Catholic Mental Models. It’s well worth checking out. I loved his book, and am sure to be following his work for many years to come.
Many blessings on your faithful work!
Please consider supporting grateful convert initiatives by ordering a copy of Faith at Work: Finding Purpose Beyond the Paycheck (quantity discounts are now available for group study) or inviting Kevin to speak at your event. Thank you!