Christians in the workplace: Are you satisfied with your job? comment (0)
August 25, 2014
Christians who are part of a congregation that emphasizes the connection between faith and work report higher job satisfaction than their non-churchgoing colleagues, according to a study recently released by Baylor University.
Among the total population of U.S. workers, job satisfaction remains at historic lows. Only 48 percent of American workers say they are satisfied with their jobs, according to the current edition of The Conference Board Job Satisfaction Survey, released in June 2014. However, the study by Baylor sociologists found that job satisfaction increases when workers regularly attend a church that emphasizes the integration of faith and work.
Researchers asked a random sample of full-time employees if they attended a place of worship, and if so, whether their congregation emphasized integrating their faith in the workplace through “sacrificial love” to their co-workers, sensing God’s presence at work among others.
“We already knew that about 60 percent of American adults are affiliated with congregations, but we wanted to delve into whether that carries over from weekend worship services to the work day,” said Jerry Z. Park, associate professor of sociology at Baylor. “It turns out it does make some difference in their attitudes at work. That means it has a potential ‘payoff’ not only for employers but for employees themselves.”
Researchers’ analysis was based on the National Survey of Work, Entrepreneurship and Religion, a 2010 Web-based survey of 1,022 full-time workers. Their findings concentrated on three areas:
- Job satisfaction: Full-time workers who regularly attend a congregation that emphasizes integrating their faith at work report higher job satisfaction.
- Job commitment: Full-time workers who regularly attend a congregation that emphasizes integrating their faith at work report higher commitment to their place of employment.
- Entrepreneurship: People who are actively involved in congregations that promote integration of faith with work are more likely to describe themselves as entrepreneurial. However, attendance seems to impede entrepreneurship — perhaps because time and energy spent in entrepreneurial endeavors leaves less time for church attendance.
Researchers measured the three areas using a 15-item Congregational Faith at Work Scale, Park said. That scale includes such items as whether respondents sense God’s presence while they work, whether they view their work as having eternal significance, whether they view co-workers as being made in the image of God, whether they believe they should demonstrate “sacrificial love” toward co-workers and whether they believe God wants them to develop their abilities and talents at work.
Workplace attitudes such as job commitment also were evaluated by a variety of items that asked how much participants felt like “part of the family” at their organization, how efficiently they get proposed actions through “bureaucratic red tape” and whether they “went to bat” for good ideas of co-workers.
“Religious participation is an active part of life for millions of Americans, and it is relevant in other domains,” the study concluded.
The connection between faith and work is relevant because work was the first commission given to man in the Garden of Eden, said Bill Peel, author of “Workplace Grace” and founding executive director of The Center for Faith & Work at LeTourneau University in Longview, Texas. It is important to think of work as a good gift of God, something that we are called to do, he said.
“God expects us to work and wants us to work. Work gives people dignity. If you want to destroy human flourishing, take work away,” Peel said.
Between Sundays, Americans spend 8 to 10 hours a day at work, and for most Christians the workplace is a strategic place for Kingdom influence. Churches can and should encourage members to think about what the gospel means to the work, Peel said.
“We should be going to work for the same reason we go to church — to worship God and serve our fellow man. So if believers are going to work unchallenged, unprepared and unthoughtful about what God would have them do in the workplace, they are missing the gospel’s application in the biggest, most controlling area of their lives,” Peel said.
By isolating themselves from God during work hours, believers are not able to draw from the spiritual resources and wisdom the Bible offers for everyday living. However, by joining God’s work at the workplace, great things can happen, Peel said.
“If Christians in the workplace today will seize the spiritual opportunities they have, who knows what extraordinary things God will do with the ordinary workplace moments they give to Him.”
(ABP, Carrie Brown McWhorter contributed)
For more information about the integration of faith and work, visit centerforfaithandwork.com.