I’ve been thinking about this lately. I’ve got some questions about my own career path: where next? What do I want to do between now and retirement? I enjoy the challenge – mostly – of being a professional research librarian and I’m grateful for the opportunities I have had in the various law firms and via the SLA. But is corporate law the best place for me to be?
That’s a question that’s been simmering away for a little while. And then today I saw the criticism of the speakers invited to HTB’s Leadership Conference. Folk from Goldman Sachs and Serco were invited to talk about leadership. I had a good, thorough think about this because I wanted to know what my opinion was. Do I agree on learning from leaders wherever? Or not? So here’s a bit of thinking about how following Christ might affect what choices we make.
We all have to make a living (well, everyone I know does – you might have richer friends than me). And we’re all called to different things. If we work in places that are not obviously good (nuclear arms manufacture might be an extreme example of that…) then perhaps our role is to be salt and light in a difficult, pressured workplace. Perhaps by supporting colleagues who are being stressed into a small ball, we get to show love to that person, and be Christ’s light to them.
I understand that reasoning. And indeed when I had a bit of a wobble, I rationalised that wobble using just that argument. The job I was in used my skills, knowledge, intelligence and willingness to teach, help and support others. Personal relationships, and showing people how much they matter to God, help others understand that Christianity is more than just being anti-gay or boring. So all round, that’s a good thing, right?
Ultimately: should I use my skills, knowledge, intelligence and willingness to help in the service of a company or an organisation that is inherently destructive? Or that is actively causing the increase in the gulf between rich and poor, have and have not? Am I not then directly contributing to the dark side, for want of a better shorthand?
I don’t think so. I don’t think you can separate how the profit is made to pay my salary – and the effect that profit has on my world – from my faith, because Christianity is a 168/hr week commitment. I could be the saltiest salt, and the shiniest light: but working for a company that builds arms, removes services, causes recession means that my skills and energy are making things worse. And I want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. And yet. The rent needs to be paid. The bills don’t go away. So how does one square the circle… maintain integrity? Answers on a postcard…