Monday, September 24, 2012

Taking Your Soul to Work Part 2

R. Paul Stevens and Alvin Ung, Taking Your Soul to Work: Overcoming the Nine Deadly Sins of the Workplace. Eerdmans, 2010.

In part one, I discussed the nine deadly sins that undermine the soul in the workplace: pride, greed, lust, gluttony, anger, sloth, envy, restlessness, and boredom. In this part I will analyze the nine resources for producing the Spirit's fruit in the workplace: Joy, goodness, love, self-control, gentleness faithfulness, kindness,patience, and peace.

Stevens and Ung ask the question why do we need the Spirit in the workplace? The authors believe that we cannot overcome the nine deadly sins on our own. We need the operation of the Holy Spirit in our life to produce the fruit of the Spirit in our life. Chapters ten through eighteen "describe how the various fruits of the Spirit serve as life-giving resources for workplace spirituality" (68).

It is interesting how the authors integrate the three parts. The first deadly sin we struggle with is pride. The way to overcome this temptation is through the fruit of joy. Pride looks at self as number one. Joy is being grateful that God is number one. The outcome would be continuous communion with God through prayer. The second temptation is greed. The fruit to overcome this sin is goodness. Goodness is "cultivating a character that gives rather than takes" (75). The outcome is a contentment with what God provides. The third temptation is lust. The grace to overcome this is love. Love seeks out the good of the other. The outcome from cultivating love is a love God and neighbor. The next obstacle to the soul is gluttony. The fruit to overcome this weakness  is self-control. The outcome of exercising self-control is a freedom from an obsession with food and to live simply. This concerns not just the amount of food but the kind. Anger is another sin that can destroy the soul. The fruit to overcome it is gentleness. The authors define gentleness as "empowering others by renouncing personal agendas and expressing meekness" (93). The outcome of cultivating gentleness is being happy with who you are.

The next sin to overcome is sloth. Sloth is doing minimal work. Faithfulness in work is the answer to this problem. The outcome of "persisting in important work with utter reliability," is  "a pattern of life that produces excellent work without being consumed by it" (99). The last three fruit of the spirit that are addressed in this work are kindness which overcomes envy; patience which conquers restlessness; and peace which overcomes boredom.

It seems that the authors believe that soul growth requires both the work of the Holy Spirit and our active participation. What Stevens and Ung say in these chapters seems similar to the idea of developing moral virtue. Some might question if the fruit of the Spirit is the work of the Spirit, why does it require human effort? That is a good question. There does seem to be much evidence that without our active participation, our character is more controlled by the nine deadly sins than the fruit of the Spirit. What does this have to do with the workplace? This is the place where we spend the majority of our day. Our jobs shape our character. Work is where we must practice good actions to become moral persons.

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