Learn the lesson that, if you are to do the work of a prophet, what you need is not a scepter but a hoe.
– Bernard of Clairvaux (1090–1153)
Work is part of a full life and can be a means of self-expression. When done with others, it fosters community. It provides the necessities of living.
Coming to a consciousness of the spiritual nature of our work can be a slow process, but many forms of work can be honorable if we approach them with integrity, diligence, and concern. The workplace, whether ideal or not, enables us to put into action conflict negotiation, mediation, centering, listening, silence, and love. In fact, in the marketplace our strengths may be most tested, and our faithfulness most treasured.
All of the business relationships of Friends should be carried on in a spirit of love and service. If we keep before us the faith that there is an indwelling Spirit in every person we encounter, then personal dealings and relations of management and labor become integral to our religious lives and allow us to witness to our testimonies. Work can be an opportunity for personal ministry, and many Friends try to choose paid and voluntary work that furthers justice, freedom, and equality and that helps to remove the seeds of war and conflict.
The time of business does not with me differ from the time of prayer, and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were my knees at the blessed sacrament.
– Brother Lawrence (1611–91),
Practice of the Presence of God
The light of Friends’ principles can transform dealings with authorities and coworkers, ambition and the desire for success, competition, and management hierarchies. This light can lead us back to the still center to listen for God’s word in all our worldly concerns.