Workplace Ethics

This semester I am taking a course titled, “Workplace Theology and Ethics.” The purpose of the course is to explore a Christian way of thinking about work and calling – about the mission, values, and ethical guidelines appropriate to this domain. Does the Bible say anything about work, business, economy, marketplace? In this class students are to wrestle with their sense of calling, their philosophy of work and economics, and their ethical identity.

My professor insists on having a lot of discussion, which I find really enjoyable. So he asks us a lot of questions. I’ve been surprised by my lack of answers to many of them. Below, I will include some of the questions that were asked in which I had reason to pause, since I didn’t have an immediate answer.

  • What is “good” work? Which jobs ought to be classified as “good”?
  • How should we think about work? What does it mean, why am I doing it, what makes my job “good” or “bad”?
  • How are we to discern our calling/vocation?
  • What are the proper criteria for evaluating companies?
  • What is a good business, company, or organization? Why?
  • How do personal faith and values interface with work, career, and business decisions and practices?
  • What is more difficult to deal with – bad people/intentions or technological complexity, competitive business, other?
  • When Ecclesiastes 1:3, 14 says, “What do people gain from all the toil at which they toil under the sun?…All is vanity and a chasing after the wind.” Is this cynicism, realism, pessimism, modest expectation, other?
  • What kind of jobs or businesses have the best chance of being redemptive in the world? Are some jobs/businesses simply unable to be redemptive?
  • What is the difference between “work” and “sabbath”?
  • What is the purpose and value of a sabbath?
  • Is it possible to be successful in today’s business while observing sabbath and staying balanced in life?
  • What are the pros/cons of modern technology?
  • What are the pros/cons of globalization?
  • How ought the Biblical narrative restructure our view on technology/globalization?

Most people spend at least 1/3 of their life working. It seems these are relevant questions. Any thoughts?