Church and work ethic“My mind is my own church.” – Thomas Paine

Last week, Penelope Trunk, my favorite career authority, wrote a post providing 4 tips that will improve productivity at work. Number 3 on her list: Go to church.

She points her brazen careerists to The New York Times article where:

Lisa Cullen reports that girls who go to church work harder than other people. Maybe you think this is because church girls are so bored in their upstanding lives that they can’t think of anything better to do than work. But I think it actually has something to do with optimism.

People who go to church regularly are more optimistic people in general, and optimism makes people feel more positive about their work. If you feel like you will affect your work in a positive way, you’re more likely to dig in and do it.

What do you think? Does faith influence optimism? And how does this translate in the workplace?

One of her readers suggested it’s because Christians are great sheep. Depending on the day of the week, their shepherd could be their employer, pastor or Christ himself. Baa, baa… you get the picture. The commenter writes:

To my point though, each religious poster has a similar take on why Christians are more productive at work – be it faith in decision-making, optimism, or simply not being distracted by YouTube, flirting, my space, etc. But here are other possible reasons, self esteem and adherence to duty.

At the heart of all major religions is the concept of respect for self (self esteem) as a child of God. Treat yourself with respect, and by implication, do whatever you do with diligence and pride because your actions are an extension of your physical self. If you do something, do it well as it represents you.

Second, in terms of adherence to duty, the saying, “…give onto Caesar that which is Caesar’s” and a myriad of other Judeo-Christian parables abound, about how servants, slaves, etc should be dutiful to a master or employer. Basically, we make great sheep.

In the past, the most pliable and easily ruled population has been a religious population. Religious employees simply work harder because they are less distracted, rebellious, and questioning. This fact while not entirely complimentary, also seems to be an overlooked variable in the religious/hard worker equation.

I’ll give Christians the hard work award. After all, I’m a product of this tradition and wholeheartedly give the church due credit for the development of my work ethic. It takes discipline to do your “daily devotions” and observe “quiet time” with God.

You also have to be pretty studious outside of school to memorize scripture. Of course, I wasn’t quite as diligent as one of my sisters who memorized several books written by the disciple known as Paul and for this she earned the top spot on the church Bible Quiz team. I know, it almost sounds cult-like. Well it was. But it kept me on the straight and narrow until I graduated from college and started questioning everything from my sexuality to an afterlife.

Another commenter on Penelope’s post summarizes these questions best:

Christianity: The belief that some cosmic Jewish Zombie can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and telepathically tell him that you accept him as your master so he can remove an evil force from your soul that is present in humanity because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree.

100,000 Burmese – women, children, families – were just washed off the planet. I guess if you believe in a Christian God you can call that extreme productivity.

Apparently, I’m not alone in my questioning. Here’s a study that found:

The fastest-growing religious group is people without any religious affiliation. But that doesn’t mean the U.S. is experiencing a secular surge. Most in this group aren’t atheists; they just describe their religion as “nothing in particular.”

So I guess most people aren’t going to church. And those that do, why do they get the monopoly on optimism as suggested by Penelope?

Are you optimistic? How does this impact your work day? And is there a correlation between optimism and income? Please let us know below.

I’d argue that a cheerful mood and buoyant personality doesn’t require a belief in God. Your disposition can be improved by any number of things. Say, chocolate for instance. Especially the kind with “good intentions” as one of its main ingredients. Seriously, take a look at Intentional Chocolate. It’s not a gimmick:

  • The strategic advantage is an innovative technology that embeds the intentions of advanced meditators into chocolate and bridges the gaps between spirituality and science. This is the first mind matter product in the market.
  • The target market addresses a market segment that is being described as a mega-trend by 76% of executive’s worldwide, health and well-being. A recent Youtube video about Intentional Chocolate received over 150,000 hits in a 48-hour period.

So it’s Monday morning… anybody out there working hard? Are you giving credit to God or that square of dark chocolate? We want to know…