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On Vocation Blog

Posted May 2, 2018 by Center for Faith and Innovation
Tags: Spiritual Formation

Benediction

Today the first season of the On Vocation e-letter closes with something of a benediction. This is a brief, TED-style video from one of our own: Dr. Vince Bacote. In this helpful talk, Vince takes the idea of “benediction” and applies it to our work in a pluralistic world. If you’ve wondered how to help our students prepare for faithful and affirming engagement with others who are not like them – especially in their workplaces, you’ll find answers here. Through a few brief, engaging stories illustrating clear principles, Vince shows us how the virtues of Imagination, Hospitality, and Hope can become part of our – and our students’ – vocational faithfulness. We believe you’ll find the video useful for personal reflection, classroom use, and student mentoring:

Reflection prompts:

IMAGINATION

We are committed to God’s truth – but we may view imagination as contrary to truth. Vince suggests that many of us live in an “imagination desert,” unable to connect faith and vocation. He recommends having more imagination for how vibrant faith can be expressed in these pluralistic environments.
Vince gives the example of the attorney Kent Johnson, an evangelical who works with Texas Instruments, and started voluntary prayer groups in the workplace. He argued that if managers want to understand their workers and help them collaborate well, they have to understand who they are – prayer groups actually helped foster workplace cohesion – a more “family-like” ethos at T.I. – even across national, ethnic, and religious diversity, Religion as unifier! Imagine that! 
How can we show them that imagination is the friend of truth, that it can work with truth, to help us imagine various ways God’s truth can appear in our workplaces.

HOSPITALITY

Vince then teases out some themes from the story of the Good Samaritan, recommending hospitality as a second important virtue for engaging pluralistic working environments with a vibrant faith. And he gives the powerful example of a young nursing student from a fundamentalist background named Amy, who is present when a young gay man is brought in, who has attempted suicide by jumping off a bridge. In the face of the hostility and rejection manifested by the young man’s father and grandfather – both pastors – Amy recognized and cared for the dignity of the young man, literally washing his feet, and telling him she would pray for him. Vince characterizes the father and grandfather with the phrase “selective righteousness.”

How can we introduce “holy zeal for hospitality” in our workplaces?

HOPE

Then Vince addresses hope. He talks about how many different and opposing views of important public matters we hear all around us, in a “grand chorus of conflict.” This can make it seem scary to bring a public faith to the workplace. It’s easier to despair, be cynical, gripe about others, says Vince. But our faith calls us to something higher: hope.

He gives two examples. The first is Catherine Leary Alsdorf, a former CEO of a Silicon Valley company and a committed Christian, who began to see God at work in her work world – her own company. She learned to have more and more faith in what God could do – even when it was dire. She found gratitude to be a path to hope. Then Vince talks about Bryan Stevenson, a young lawyer facing cases of people unjustly sent to death row. Justice seemed to have different meanings for those of different races and classes. Against that, he won freedom for those unjustly convicted. He could have despaired, but he held on for truth and justice, maintaining the Christian virtue of hope even in the face of great injustice. Vince wraps up with a reference to 1 Peter, which says we are to be ready to give an answer to the hope that is in us.

Have we thought about what this might mean in our vocations? I encourage you to do that, and not to yield to the “siren songs of cynicism and despair,” as Vince puts it.