Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Personal vs. Professional Life

In keeping with the somewhat serious tone from the last post, I thought I would delve into a topic that people say shouldn't be discussed in public: religion. I figured as long as I'm talking about money (another topic that is shunned in public), I might as well make things a little more interesting. As we already determined, I'm Catholic. I want to be a good person. I want to serve others. I was once asked what being "simply Catholic" meant to me. I thought of it as "living simply." Living within your means. Not wasting your gifts or resources. Sharing your excess good fortunes with others.

But I'm also an accountant. I have this gift and talent with business and numbers. In the business realm, it seems like "greed is good" (Wall Street), self-interest prevails, and capitalism leads to unfair competition. In my mind, there always seemed to be a disconnect between my personal life and professional life. That being Catholic and successful was mutually exclusive.

Fortunately, I am wrong. (How hard is that to say?)

I started to learn about the integration of Judeo-Christian truths with free market principles during a talk by R.J. Moeller. Moeller is a pastor in a Christian Church in Chicago and is currently a graduate student studying theology and philosophy in the Chicago-land area. Interestingly enough, he is a published writer and aspiring cultural commentator focused on the intersection of faith, politics, economics, and popular culture.

That night, Moeller discussed economics from a Christian worldview. He said that economics is the combination of math, morality, and experience. And that we have a unique gift to create and produce. I knew that we should be stewards of creation, but he also talked about being a steward of our time, talent, and treasure. Competition is needed for improvement in the economy, but we need to do so in a Godly way. Moeller also suggested that we should try to change hearts and behaviors before trying to change policies. One of the books he recommended was "Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism is the Solution and Not the Problem" by Jay W. Richards.

At the end of the night, I asked him how to be a better Christian worker. Moeller suggested some smaller everyday things such as being ethical and working hard. Or not working on Sundays and being a trustworthy coworker. Another suggestion was to donate money to worthwhile charities so that others can serve the needy.

But I wanted to dig a little deeper. How can I more fully integrate my faith and profession? (Please don't confuse this with my vocation. My deeper purpose is to be married and a mother.)

So I read "Money, Greed, and God" and it totally improved my view of capitalism from a Christian perspective. Turns out, Moeller is an alumnus of the Acton Institute, which seeks to gather Christians from all traditions to discuss how to create a free and virtuous society. And Richards held a leadership position at the Acton Institute. So these guys share a common message. That book debunks many commonly held myths about capitalism, even some that I held.

Not to leave you hanging, but this post is already getting a little lengthly. So I'm going to save a book review for some future posts.

Do you have troubles connecting your personal and professional life?
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