Employment is a very individual thing because fundamentally it’s about employing or utilizing the qualities of thought and the talents and abilities we each have for the benefit of others. Employment plays a big part in most people's lives. It can either be a very rewarding experience or it can be fraught with disappointment, frustration, strife. It can involve very satisfying relationships with co-workers, or it can be a constant battlefield of egos, wills, ambitions, pressure, and power. And then there’s the frightening and debilitating experience of not being able to find a job, or of losing a job.
I’ve experienced all of the above in the course of my career. There are a number of lessons I’ve learned along the way and some spiritual perspectives that have enabled me to navigate a progressive path, and often to really love my employment. There’s no one “silver bullet” for the person trying to find a job or for the person wrestling with a very unhappy work experience. But there are useful tools and techniques that are commonly accepted as helpful in finding a job. And I can offer some perspectives that I know can make a significant difference. Not surprisingly, they involve a change of thought.
First, we need to drop the “I’m a victim” mentality. Whether we believe we are a victim of chance, luck, bad timing, circumstance, the conduct or misconduct of others; the victim of a recession or some other economic cycle, or of someone else’s decisions, nothing progressive can come from playing the “victim” role.
Employment is a spiritual manifestation of God, that is never withheld, taken away, or lost.
Second, we need to drop the commonly accepted notion of limitation or lack. We might find ourselves thinking that there aren’t enough jobs, or enough good jobs, that the supply of job seekers is greater than demand, that we’re in competition with others for the same pool of jobs. Or, we may believe that we have limited opportunity due to education (either too little or too much), age (too young or too old), prior experience (not enough or too much). Perhaps circumstances say we’re limited by location, transportation, or even by our own temperament. The roots of new growth do not prosper in the soil of limitation.
Both of these ways of thinking are based on the notion of a matter-based economy and of ourselves as relatively helpless beings caught in the web of something out of our own control—and even out of God’s control.
The remedy is to take a deeper look, to go below the surface of what appears to be a material economy, which often seems chaotic and tenuous. We need to become aware of a much more stable and sustainable economy—an economy of infinite ideas based on divine Principle, Love. We need to be willing to see divine Love as the basis of every aspect of employment—as the source of purposefulness, opportunity, ability, productivity, profit, and reward.
To me, the most wonderful thing about divine Love, as Mary Baker Eddy speaks of it in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, is that it is “impartial and universal in its adaptation and bestowals” (p. 13). Or as the book of James in the Bible speaks of God, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (1:17). Employment is a spiritual manifestation of God, that is never withheld, taken away, or lost.
Divine Love has no favorites. No one is left out of the economy of Love. No one is lacking in purpose, in opportunity, in ability, in productivity, in profit, or in reward. But this employment needs to be an expression of love that is based in a desire to bless and to be of service to others, to meet their needs. Employment in the economy of Love is an act of unselfishness. It’s not about getting, but about giving. It’s not about fulfilling ourselves, but about fulfilling others. It’s not about becoming wealthy, important, or powerful. It’s about serving. It’s not even about earning a living; it’s about living.
I’ve come to believe that employment is such a huge part of human life because it’s all about the second great commandment that Jesus gave when he was asked, “Which is the great commandment in the law?” (see Matthew 22:36–39). It is to love our neighbor as ourselves. (The first is that we are to love God.) Employment can go a long way in helping us fulfill that second commandment.
If we’re going to consider how we can be “always employed,” we need to ask the obvious question: Who is our employer? And most readers of this magazine will probably answer “God is our employer.” And of course they’re right. But it’s been helpful for me to think about that idea more deeply and understand why I believe it’s true.
Employment in the economy of divine Love is an act of unselfishness. It’s not about getting, but about giving.
For me, the answer is that it’s divine Love’s nature to express infinite good, to bestow infinite blessings—impartially and universally. And the only way God can do this is by employing—or utilizing—continuously all His ideas, all His thoughts, in that good work.
God is employing us, His offspring, to actively, purposefully, and productively express His all-presence. It is the infinite nature of divine Love, and the uninterrupted nature of Love’s expression, that make continuous, universal employment a reality. If you or I were ever unemployed, God would not be fully expressing His allness.
When we think about employment in these terms, we realize that we need to move beyond a finite concept of our work to a spiritual conception of employment—as employing all the resources of being to bless. We need to claim our possession of infinite purpose, opportunity, ability, productivity, profit, reward.
To me, the ultimate “vision statement for all of humanity”—one that guarantees employment for everyone—is in these words from Science and Health: “One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations; constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars; fulfils the Scripture, ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself;’ annihilates pagan and Christian idolatry,—whatever is wrong in social, civil, criminal, political, and religious codes; equalizes the sexes; annuls the curse on man, and leaves nothing that can sin, suffer, be punished or destroyed” (p. 340).
Being employed in fulfilling that vision is worthwhile and unending.
Doug Paul is the Manager of the Human Resources department for The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts.
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