Saturday, April 30, 2011

An office missionary "convention"

I was recently forwarded the details about an upcoming retreat at the "Laity Lodge" in rural Texas. Here is a description:
Our retreat will draw together a group of 50 people from across the country who are committed to vocations in the marketplace. Ten will be senior members, like the CEO, and 40 will be junior members, like the young entrepreneur. For four days we will talk and think, pray and eat, by God's grace forming a community of practice that will work to recast the Church's understanding of vocations in the marketplace-deepening visions, developing apprenticeships, all with the vision of transformation. Not a small task.
It is very encouraging to me to see this acknowledgment of the potential spark within an office or a "marketplace" brought forth by people seeking to be holy amidst and through their "ordinary" vocations and professions.

I am grateful for those who are taking the time to think more deeply about it.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

To be an office worker of mercy

After teaching my 8th grade CCD students about the corporal and spiritual works of mercy a few weeks ago, I have been trying to incorporate them in my own life.

I wrote them out and taped the list to the inside of my closet door. At the end of the day, I try to check the list and ask myself, "How have I been able to be a man of mercy today?"

In my job, I think that there is often the need to "bear wrongs patiently," one of the spiritual works of mercy.

One situation, in particular, that comes to mind is my colleague "Jake" who has repeatedly attributed an idea to me that isn't actually mine but is his.

Albeit, it might be more offensive it he were to do to the opposite, but at the same time I don't particularly like this idea and would have preferred for him to have kept the ownership.

From one angle, I imagine that he is crediting the idea to me to spare himself of the responsibility. (I could be completely wrong.)

Nevertheless, to object or to initiate a discussion over who contrived the idea seems to not be the right move. It would be an unnecessary challenge to his perspective and would not seem to bring Jake any benefit. Instead, each time he (wrongly) cites me for this idea, I am seeking to patiently bear it.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A "Catholic difference"? (Part 3)

My uncle recently sent me an article about Jack Griffin. He was the CEO of Time Incorporated (publisher of Sports Illustrated, Time, and People magazines). Then he was fired. Among other possible causes of Mr. Griffin's dismissal, one article mentioned his Catholic faith:
Griffin, who is a Roman Catholic, made some in the company uncomfortable by referring to his faith during meetings and interactions with subordinates, two execs told The New York Times.
In previous posts, I have mentioned the difference that being Catholic might make in an office. In this case, did being Catholic make the wrong kind of "difference"?

Or was it the case of something separate? In the article from my uncle, the phrase "unable to gain the faith of his employees" caught my attention. On one hand, perhaps Mr. Griffin courageously gave witness to his faith even at the expense of his professional standing.

Indeed, I take encouragement from the example of someone unafraid to share their faith, even explicitly, within their office.

But on the other hand, perhaps it was this inability to build a rapport with his colleagues that made the witness of his faith more "distant" to them.

With this possibility in mind, I also take heed of the importance of building genuine relationships with others who ultimately be encouraged by another's faith.

In any case, I again pray for the grace to balance courage and prudence within my mission field.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Imitation aim: Thoughtfulness

At the office, I would like to be more like my colleague "Audrey."

She led a small project that recently finished. I was part of the project. A few days ago, I and others received handwritten notes from Audrey. Mine included,
"Thank you for your contributions to our small testing team ... Your upbeat spirit and fun remarks helped carry us all through longer testing activities ... Best wishes to you as you continue working towards your goals ..."
This unnecessary but significant act of humility and thoughtfulness made an impression on me. It certainly was a way to share Christ's light within an office.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Office fooling!

One year ago, on April 1, I emailed the colleagues in my hallway:
As you may know, every year, Washington DC hosts a very popular “Cherry Blossom Festival,” featuring the striking pink and white blossoms from the trees donated by Japan in 1912 as an act of goodwill (c.f.,

You may also know that in the evenings, inspired by an adventurous appetite, I have recently begun studying at a local culinary institute to become a non-dessert pastry specialist.

This year, I decided to combine the local festival with my new trade and made a full batch of “Cherry walnut marshmallow raisin scones” to share. (Yes, this is an original recipe. “Cherry trees” and “cherry scones,” do you get it?)

Because of the presence of both walnuts and marshmallows, it is important to keep the scones slightly chilled. Herein, I have left several dozen in the small cooler with the orange top in the printer room. Please give them a try if you would like!

Then, I put the small cooler with the orange top in the printer room, empty except for a note that said "April Fools!"

As people filed into the printer room one by one, I listened with amusement from down the hallway. "Oh man, he got me!" I heard, and "Well, those scones were sure 'low-calorie.'"

On the whole, I think that it brought many people a good laugh.

+++ +++ +++ +++

This year, I tried a different approach. Instead of playing a joke, I did what I had joked about last year.

I made cherry bars this year, and to my colleagues, I wrote,

This year, I really did make cherry walnut oatmeal bars. Feel free to stop by my office to give them a try. Since I never did actually enroll in a a culinary school, maybe you can give me some tips on my recipe.

Ironically, some of them were determined not to be fooled twice and didn't believe me at all this year. But by now most of them have discovered the truth. I've certainly gotten them thinking, and I think that it again has had a positive effect.

I think that having a light-hearted spirit in an office is a good way of indirectly sharing the joy of Christ.