Different Approaches to Faith in the Workplace
There are a number of ways that we can approach the subject of God’s involvement in the workplace.
The Proselytizer’s Approach: God just wants to convert people. The secular world is important only as a setting for proselytizing. God doesn’t care about secular activities in and of themselves.
The Ecclesiastical Approach: God’s work is done exclusively through the church. God is interested in the secular world to some extent, but what God does in the world is mediated through organized religion. Secular activity outside the church is meaningless to God.
The Social Justice Approach: God is on the side of the powerless and disenfranchised. To that extent, God is interested in the secular world, but only to that extent. God doesn’t care about secular life in general. In fact, the larger culture disgusts God, because it favors the powerful and dulls the senses of the masses.
The Ethical Approach: God’s interest in secular life is largely ethical. The secular world matters to God because that is where we live out our faith, making choices that affect others. God calls us to do good and to help others within the larger culture. Apart from ethical considerations, however, God does not care about secular life.
The Spiritual Practices Approach: We must always engage in spiritual practices wherever we are, to stay in touch with God and to behave virtuously. As we do so, God is with us even in the most secular situations. The focus here, however, is on our union with God in each moment. Nothing is implied about God’s interest in the secular world itself.
The Deistic Approach: God created the world and gave us the freewill and intelligence to live within it. What we do with those gifts is up to us. God is not personally involved in our daily lives.
The Impersonal God Approach: There is no personal God. Christian religion is about being kind to others and making good decisions. It’s not about believing in a meddling Old Person who looks down on us from the heavens. There is no such Person.
There are many other possible approaches to the issue of God’s involvement in secular life, but these are the main responses I’ve gotten from people over the years, as I’ve discussed this question with them. In my upcoming book, What Does God Do from 9 to 5? I explain why I’m not satisfied with any of these approaches, and I outline my philosophy of God in the workplace.
For today, though, I invite you to consider the following question. Do you see yourself anywhere in this list?