A book review of “The Catholic Briefcase: Tools for Integrating Faith and Work”
Would you go to the lion’s den for your faith? It’s not a rhetorical question. People are still dying for their faith in Jesus Christ. Would you?
As a second grader at St. Albert the Great, I asked myself that very question. I listened to Sr. Annette, a beautiful, freckled-face nun from Ireland, tell us of the courage and love of Catholic martyrs who went into the lion’s den rather than deny their faith in Jesus Christ. Sr. Annette did not directly ask if we would do the same, but the question hung in the air.
I recall hesitating, realizing how hard it would be to walk into a lions’ den. “Yes, I would do it!” I finally decided. Forty-some years later, the situation has not come up. However, plenty of other situations have. In daily life, both socially and at work, we all have moments of temptation and opportunities for Catholic courage. The lions’ den would be the ultimate test. Yet, many who think they would die for their faith often don’t live for it. Perhaps nowhere are we more tempted to disregard our faith than in the workplace. People often feel that there is no place for religion in a secular work environment.
The Catholic Briefcase
Randy Hain, in his book, The Catholic Briefcase: Tools for Integrating Faith and Work, (Liguouri Publications) challenges Catholics to strive for holiness in the workplace. He uses Scripture, Catholic teaching, and real-life situations in order to show just how it can be done. Randy, through his experiences as the managing partner of Bell Oaks Executive Search, knows that sprinkling people with holy water and preaching the Gospel from a desk, is not going to cut it in the office. But neither does he suggest we keep mum about our beliefs. Instead, he encourages Christians to integrate faith and work.
As a convert to the Catholic Church in 2005, Randy is passionate about his beliefs. He co-founded the popular Integrated Catholic Life e-magazine in 2010 with Deacon Mike Bickerstaff and is also a co-founder of the Annual Atlanta Business Conference. As a devoted family man, business leader, and advocate for the faith, he encourages others not to separate religion from any part of our lives. It is his contention that the workplace can often be the place where we have the greatest opportunity to demonstrate our faith.
“Most of us spend the majority of our waking adult lives at work,” he writes. “The workplace today is a challenging environment in which to be open about our Christian beliefs. Political sensitivity, rigid company policies, and simple fear have led many of us to compartmentalize our faith in unhealthy and unnatural ways.”
Randy begins in the first chapter by calling us all to surrender. He admits that sometimes he struggles with placing every aspect of his life in God’s hands but throughout the day he prays, “I surrender Lord, please lead me.”
The work place is full of temptations to be prideful and the feeling that we must be in control. Randy challenges his readers by asking:
- Do your pride and ego always get in the way of work relationships? What about personal ones?
- Do you ever ask, “How will my friends, peers and work colleagues judge me?
He suggests possible reasons for our pride could be fear of giving up control, fear that the cost of surrender will be too great, or fear of losing personal freedom.
The workplace is not always kind to people with Christian principals and Randy acknowledges that. He suggests Catholic business people should find ways to network with other Catholics. First, he shoots down all the typical excuses–no time, don’t know how, I don’t see the value, I’m networking in other ways, I’m not good at it–and provides specific ways to find Catholic support.
Randy covers every aspect of the individuals’ personal make up and explores how situations at work can lend themselves to spiritual growth. Real-life examples from business leaders help show how to make an integrated faith a reality. Topics include: love in the workplace, stewardship, finding time to think, prayer, leadership, decision making, and more. At the end of every chapter are discussion questions to challenge individuals or provide points of discussion for study groups.
There are a plethora of books coaching people how to get ahead at work. Randy’s book recognizes the importance of doing well at work, but he helps people to prioritize their vocation of serving God as the driving force behind that work. For in the end, he reminds us, we are made for heaven and the path to our heavenly home leads through the workplace. This book is unique and much needed in the world today.
Copyright 2012 Patti Maguire Armstrong