Three Ways that Work Can be Spiritual

For many of us, work is the farthest thing from 'spiritual'.  It can be stressful.  It spills over into our home and social lives.  It eats up a lot of our energy and can keep us up at night.  And just maybe, it can change the world.

Take Timberland shoe and boot company as an example.  I've visited their NH headquarters a number of times and used to bring students to see how they do what they do.  Their website also explains that they do much more than just make shoes.  "Our place in this world is bigger than the things we put in it. So we volunteer in our communities." (  They volunteer so much in fact that you can take time off from work (and it's still paid time) in order to serve in your community.  That's a wow!

That's also pretty spiritual when you think about it.  So how can you replicate the spirit of Timberland in your own labor?

Work can help the environment. When a company like Interface Flooring takes a stand and challenges itself to have a more positive environmental eco-impact, it not only helps the environment but taps into something deeply human within each worker.  Employees go home at night and can honestly say that their company stands for something more than the bottom line.

Work can help you form deep bonds with co-workers. When you're spending more time with colleagues than with your spouse on a given day, work enables you to respect others on a deep level.  You'll see all of their flaws and weaknesses as well as their true talents.  This is authentically human and a spirit of collaboration follows.  For those organizations that have a meaningful goal, this bond will help to avoid bellybutton gazing and further the group's objectives.

Work can provide you with moments 'in the zone'. Whether you work on an assembly line, are about to testify before Congress or are folding laundry, work allows you to get into "the zone".  By zoning, we mean that small stretch of time when you lose track of the clock and immerse yourself in what you're doing.  That's a very spiritual aspect of work and often produces some of the most precise, focused results.  It's also what enables powerful productivity and a true spirit of GTD.

St. Benedict and Work

In the spirit of ora et labora (pray and work), St. Benedict offers some profound insight into work's true value:

"Idleness is the enemy of the soul." (Rule of St. Benedict 48:1,8)

"We believe that the divine presence is everywhere." (Rule of St. Benedict 19:1)

"Your way of acting should be different from the world's way." (Rule of St. Benedict 4:20)

*photo by Thomas Rockstar