However, with hardship always comes opportunity. Although some are critical of the Church’s consistent teaching on faith and morals, others are discovering the depth and beauty of Catholicism every day. At the same time, workplace regulations and policies designed to treat all people with justice can sometimes have the effect of treating them as commodities.
People are not commodities.
So here’s where we as Catholics can shine: we are all called to evangelize, to sanctify our work, and to follow legitimate authority, including in our workplaces. Is this even possible? I think so – it may shock some of your co-workers, but here are just three ways we can evangelize effectively. All three are consistent with our faith, and can also help us to be more effective in our daily work:
1. Listen more, talk less – by taking the focus off ourselves and putting it on others. Take a sincere interest in co-workers by asking questions. Be gracious to everyone, even if they’re low on the org chart or a pain in the neck. How about stopping to ask how the janitor is doing and saying thank you? Paying a sincere compliment to the boorish co-worker, and asking if everything is going OK? Perhaps the most difficult – how about saying nothing (rather than retaliating) in response to a sarcastic comment?
2. Be grateful – by thanking people up, down and sideways in the organization. There’s no danger of people feeling over-appreciated. We’re called to place our trust in God rather than people, and to express gratitude to him all the time, not just when things are going well. Thanking co-workers is great practice, and can enrich our prayers of gratitude to God. For all kinds of stuff… like even having a job. Many people don’t.
3. Gossip in reverse – speak positively about others when they’re not around. Try this radical move – if you’re married, speak positively about your spouse. Not a common workplace occurrence, unfortunately. Yet as Catholics, we recognize marriage as a sacrament, and a tremendous source of grace. If you’re not married, speak positively about co-workers behind their backs. It’s a powerful tool to build morale and increase trust. If you really want to provoke astonishment, say something nice about the boss!
We don’t need to “proselytize” or beat anyone over the head with a bible to evangelize people at work. It might be shocking to our co-workers, but all we really need to do is act like good Catholics. The “gift of self” the Church speaks of repeatedly is perhaps the most effective tool we have available to both help our co-workers in practical terms, and draw them towards Christ.