Human work proceeds directly from persons created in the image of God and called to prolong the work of creation by subduing the earth, both with and for one another. Hence work is a duty: “If any one will not work, let him not eat.”211 Work honors the Creator’s gifts and the talents received from him. It can also be redemptive. By enduring the hardship of work in union with Jesus, the carpenter of Nazareth and the one crucified on Calvary, man collaborates in a certain fashion with the Son of God in his redemptive work. He shows himself to be a disciple of Christ by carrying the cross, daily, in the work he is called to accomplish. Work can be a means of sanctification and a way of animating earthly realities with the Spirit of Christ.
—–Catechism of the Catholic Church, Paragraph 2427
Here are Some Ways to Sanctify Your Work and to Sanctify Yourself & Others Through Your Work – All for God’s Glory
- Be Grateful for Work: remember daily that work is a gift. See your work as an opportunity to share in God’s creativity. While God can create out of nothing, we create out of something that God or others have put in our path. This means the ability to work is a true gift from God – directly and indirectly. Therefore work with gratitude even when the work seems menial or unsatisfactory to your present fulfillment.
- Offer Up Your Work to God Before You Start: This means to start with enthusiasm. To be enthused in its original meaning is to infuse our actions with God. This means that we should begin our work by asking for God’s presence and help. For some, this means doing the Morning Offering prayer. For others, it means making the sign of the cross at the beginning of their day. Still for others, it is inserting small images of Christ or Mary, in their work space as reminders to keep the enthusiasm.
- See Your Work as a Moral Task: If you are a practicing Christian, be aware that you are working with the Holy Spirit. This makes your task a moral task: a place where you can generate good or bad. As a child of God, be aware that He is with you as you work. Conduct yourself accordingly, aiming always to do good with good methods.
- Make Your Work a Sacrifice Pleasing to God: Do quality work with integrity. No mediocrity or shoddiness. This means that you should always do your best. Otherwise your work would be the sacrifice of Cain which was rejected by God. Let your superiors be able to trust you that they can leave work with you and it would get done well as well as in a timely way and with the consistency
- Pray while Working: Recall in between tasks or during tasks that your work is a means of prayer. Have a dialogue in your heart with God as often as you can. It should be organic and not a distraction. For instance you may ask for help on a task or a quick thought to God for inspiration when you feel stuck.
- See Work As a Platform to Express Your Uniqueness: No two people can do the same task in the same way. This means that work is an opportunity to highlight what makes you unique. It is also a means of appreciating what others have that we do not and how we must complement each other as a result. Therefore work is paradoxical in the sense that it highlights our uniqueness but also our differences. A good worker should understand this and appreciate the reality of her uniqueness as well as that of others. The result being, s/he should avoid envy but focus on the task at hand, grateful for his or her own gift while having the humility to learn from others.
- Study to Improve: Many professions have continued professional development opportunities. Seize these. Take courses to improve your knowledge and skills, and ultimately your service to others. The courses also help maintain your motivation/enthusiasm at work.
- Do not be easily swayed by popular ideas. Remember what grounds you in principle such as your divine filiation with God. This awareness will keep you away from the easy temptations at work such as complaints and gossip and will lead you on the right track of constructive productivity.
- Give time to people around you to change. Do not prey on the weakness of others but rather, pray for them. When appropriate support them by giving constructive feedback – but only occasionally and if you have built a long enough friendship with them. Where the situation or the person’s weakness is toxic or overbearing/negatively impacting your ability to work well, then use the proper channels such as human resources and avoid methods that may humiliate the co-worker in question.
- Live detached. Do not centre on other people’s salaries or the compliments they give you. This does not mean that you shouldn’t strive for justice such as asking for equal pay for equal work or ensuring that company policy is carried out as intended and not in a manner that unjustly discriminates. However, it means not taking things too deeply if in the grand scheme of things, it is minor. Be content with all the many gifts you have and remind yourself of your identity as a child of God. Focus on doing your work well and using it as a means of prayer through all the tips on this page. This type of detachment, frees you to attach to the only true source of wealth and happiness: God himself.
- Learn from your mistakes. Do not dwell on them. Oftentimes, you will be better today than yesterday because of your learnings. Therefore mistakes are not only a normal part of growth but should be treated and viewed positively as a means for becoming wiser. This does not mean we should not avoid mistakes. We should because they tend to have direct or collateral damage to our self-esteem or to others as well as cause other type of loss, both material and immaterial. But mistakes are not the end of the world. Acknowledge them, learn from them, remind yourself that you are human and that mistakes form part of the human experience, then move on.
- Care about others: Take the time to listen to others, particularly those colleagues that most people ignore. Avoid giving advice unless asked but it is ok to ask a question as to whether the person has considered this or that option. This allows you to engage in active listening without presuming to know everything. Oftentimes, people need a listening ear and nothing more. Your engaged and active listening will help them to reassess their situation while making a better or a more informed decision. Caring also means compassion, putting ourselves in the shoes of others or seeing things form their point of view even though you may not agree with their conclusion. Caring may also mean affirming people’s good intentions before criticizing or counter-suggesting.
- See Work as Service to Others. Ask yourself why you are doing a particular work? It is important that we do not work only to be seen or praised by other men or solely for our own achievements. In addition to making a living, work should be used and seen as a means to serve others. A janitor of an office building can do her work better by remembering that her work serves those who would use the space that she is cleaning. A well cleaned room will enable the users of that room to be more comfortable and therefore better-positioned to do their own work well. This perspective underscores the value in every good work and how each person can help another through work – no matter how mundane the work may seem.
- Avoid the busyness trap: do not make everything urgent to remain busy all the time. Prioritize tasks prudentially. Set goals for the day according to what is important and what is due. Prioritize these. From time to time, take a break to respond to those matters that only require a brief response from you. Manage expectations of others reaching out to you by telling them when to expect your reply for matters that take longer.
- Self Affirmation should not come from your work. Your value is linked to your identity as a child of God and not to your production value at work. Yes, work hard and well. However, manage your work in a way that allows you to spend time on other talents and obligations such as quality time family and friends. Schedule these relationships into your agenda so that they are blocked off from work and you are ready to say a polite, no , if you are being urged to work beyond what you contracted for. It is ok to work beyond contracted hours on occasions but this should not be the norm. Work and life balance is possible.
- Live a Unity of Life: Avoid being that person who everyone loves at work but is a pain to his family once home. There should be no dichotomous approach to your living a life of virtue. All virtues should be alive in our daily lives irrespective of the environment. This concept was described as the unity of life by St. Josemaria. It summarizes Jesus’s many parables on avoiding hypocrisy. Our work outside the home and the one in the home are both opportunities for prayer.
- Remain Optimistic: This does not mean being blind to problems. However, it means looking at the bright side to all things on the basis of the supernatural truth that everything works out for good for all who love God, Romans 8:28. Be the person that others find relief with. Encourage others because the truth is, there is always hope, so long as people are alive. Speak of the real and good possibilities that could occur despite any difficulty. Be the person/oasis that people come to find respite from their troubles.
- Rest. We must take time off to rest from work. Rest does not mean doing nothing but doing something else that is different from our typical work. Rest from work is an act of trust in God. It shows that we know that we do not control everything; that our best work can be stopped and we can trust that God can do the rest.
- Be Humble to avoid Self-Centeredness . Here are tips to improve on humility at work and everywhere.
How to be More humble – at work & everywhere
- Ask for it: pray for humility. If you are daring, do the litany of humility. Humility, the opposite of pride, is a major challenge for every human. St. Josemaria says our pride will die 30 minutes after we do. That is how intrinsic pride is to human nature. We are all sinners and we are not perfect. All of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory, Romans 3: 23. A righteous man falls seven times a day but he will get up, Provers 24:16. This means that we should be patient with ourselves and others. It also means that we must pray for our own humility as often as we can for the rest of our lives.’
- Accept humiliation: There will be many embarrassing moments for you in this life. It is ok. They happen to everyone. The sooner you accept this fact, the easier it becomes when it happens. Plan to accept humiliations in advance of when they happen.
- Remove Egg Shells: Do you get easily offended such that people have to walk on egg shells around you? Try to avoid this situation by being a good sport when you are teased or let things that you are otherwise sensitive to, slide easily. This can take a while as sensitive temperaments are a long time in the making so be patient with yourself as you work on seeing things differently.
- Place Your Hope Outside Yourself: Accept that you cannot do everything on your own. No matter how much you try, the final say is God’s. “Man proposes, God disposes.” Do your part i.e. work hard, plan well and then pray to allow God to do the rest. Better still, pray first before working and planning and then pray after for God’s completion of the process.
- Allow Yourself to be Guided: No matter how much you know, someone knows more. Whether in your field of study, profession or just wisdom in life in general, find someone that you can count on as a mentor or at least listen to anyone who has more experience than you do. Be open to be guided by them.
- Listen Without Overly Imposing Your Solution: One simple tip here is active listening. Listen to understand and listen more than you speak. You may ask questions while listening. One question after 5 minutes of listening is fair enough. Your questions show that you care about what you are hearing. Your questions also give you an opportunity to make suggestions without approaching the issue with your own solution as the ultimate way forward.
Credit: Fr. Eric Nicolai’s talk on Ways to live work as redemptive, on Ten Minutes with Jesus Podcast and Homily by St. Josemaria on Humility.