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When work as ‘calling’ becomes an idol unto self

When work as ‘calling’ becomes an idol unto self
Action Institute Powerblog
By Joseph Sunde
Published: April 26, 2017

Propelled by an expansion in economic opportunity and the resounding cultural calls to “follow your passions,” today’s workers are more easily latching on to the notion of work as “calling,” or a pursuit of “deeper meaning.”

Of course, in many ways, it’s a positive development. For Christians, in particular, we hold a view of work as service to neighbor and thus to God, one that proceeds from a more basic stewardship mandate. If this is where we locate “meaning” or “calling” in our work — paradoxically, not in our work, but in the specific call of Christ over our lives and relationships — our economic action is bound to bear fruit.

But there’s another path, too, wherein “following our passions” means precisely that: devolving into an isolated, individualistic pursuit of self-realization, embracing economic action as the idol of choice. If this is our framework for “calling” or “finding deeper meaning” in our work, emptiness and anxiety are sure to follow.

In a recent study published in the Academy of Management Journal, researchers Kira Schabram and Sally Maitlis aim to test some of those underlying attitudes and outcomes, minus the religious inputs and perspective.

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