The Urantia Book Fellowship

Spiritual Perspectives in the Workplace

By James Moravec


One of the most important aspects of life is our vocation, the activity in which we spend the major portion of our time. Let us suppose that you put in a 40-hour work week. Add to that 40 hours the time spent preparing for work, getting to and from work, and any extra meetings and conferences. In a typical week you have spent at least 45% of your waking hours in work-related matters. If you are self-employed, work overtime, or bring your work home, it is easy to approach 60% or more of your time engaged in work activities. The workplace occupies such a significant portion of our lives that we should seriously consider its place in our spiritual destiny.

Rodan of Alexandria observed, "The two major problems of life are: making a temporal living and the achievement of eternal survival. And even the problem of making a living requires religion for its ideal solution." (U. B. p. 1778:4) The daily problems we encounter in the workplace will be most easily solved if we can maintain a spiritual perspective or, as Webster defines perspective, "a view of things in their true relationship or relative importance."

We all have put a great deal of thought and effort into career planning but we read on page 435 of The Urantia Book that "It is not so much what you learn in this first life; it is the experience of living this life that is important. Even the work of this world, paramount though it is, is not nearly so important as the way in which you do this work." How is it then, that we maintain our spiritual perspective while dealing with the daily challenges at work?

Creativity Linked to Values

In order to put first things first in our lives, we must focus on values. No matter what vocation or work we are engaged in, the way in which we do this work is determined more by our dominant values than any other factor. Jesus taught his followers that the will of God can be done in any earthly occupation. All things are sacred in the lives of those who are spirit led, that is, subordinated to truth, ennobled by love, dominated by mercy, and restrained by fairness-justice. If we know and love God, our real business on earth is so to live as to permit the Father to reveal himself in our lives. In this way, God-seeking persons will be attracted to these higher ways of living and may even ask for our help in finding out more about the God who inspires such expression in our lives. Think of the many people you encounter in the workplace, all potential spiritual brothers and sisters in the kingdom. Are truth-seekers drawn to you by the way you conduct yourself in the workplace, or do you easily lose sight of the spiritual perspective when bogged down by deadlines, quotas, under-staffed departments, and the multitude of daily problems?

That which the enlightened and reflective human imagination of spiritual teaching and leading wholeheartedly and unselfishly wants to do and be, becomes measurably creative in accordance with the degree of mortal dedication to the divine doing of the Fathers will. When man goes in partnership with God, great things may, and do, happen. (U.B. p. 1467:6)

One aspect of the workplace that makes it difficult to maintain our focus on the spiritual is the mood that is created today by the dominance of the profit motive. Many of us find our work environment adversely affected by others who are driven to attain increasing amounts of material possessions while they give little attention to spiritual values.

Present-day profit-motivated economics is doomed unless profit motives can be augmented by service motives. Ruthless competition based on narrow-minded self-interest is ultimately destructive of even those things which it seeks to maintain. Exclusive and self-serving profit motivation is incompatible with...the teachings of Jesus. (U. B. p. 805:6)

How well celestial personalities know us, for they go on to say, "But the profit motive must not be suddenly destroyed or removed; it keeps many otherwise slothful mortals hard at work." (U.B. p. 805:7) So, if we are sincerely dedicated to doing the Fathers will--if we whole-heartedly apply ourselves to trying to maintain our focus on spiritual perspectives--we will become increasingly more creative in finding solutions to our work-related problems. This is definitely a challenge, one that requires great effort if we are to accept it and progress.

Several people in The Urantia Book story discuss work-related problems with Jesus. His replies are just as relevant today as they were two thousand years ago. For those of us who find ourselves in vocations that involve providing a service to individuals whose behavior is far from spiritual, we can find inspiring words in Jesus discussion with the mistress of a Greek inn in which he said, "Minister your hospitality as one who entertains the children of the Most High. Elevate the drudgery of your daily toil to the high levels of a fine art through the increasing realization that you minister to God in the persons whom he indwells...." (U.B. p. 1475) Even the smallest task performed when thought of as a service to God will be performed in the best possible way, with the greatest care and attention. Looked at from the spiritual perspective, every action becomes, potentially, an act of love--a work of art.

A young Greek in the shipyards asked this question of Jesus: "If the Gods are interested in me, then why do they not remove the cruel and unjust foreman of this workshop?" Jesus replied with these words:

Since you know the ways of kindness and value justice, perhaps the Gods have brought this erring man near that you may lead him into this better way. Maybe you are the salt which is to make this brother more agreeable to all other men; that is, if you have not lost your savor. As it is, this man is your master in that his evil ways unfavorably influence you. Why not assert your mastery of evil by virtue of the power of goodness and thus become the master of all relations between the two of you? I predict that the good in you could overcome the evil in him if you gave it a fair and living chance. There is no adventure in the course of mortal existence more enthralling than to enjoy the exhilaration of becoming the material life partner with spiritual energy and divine truth in one of their triumphant struggles with error and evil. It is a marvelous and transforming experience to become the living channel of spiritual light to the mortal who sits in spiritual darkness. If you are more blessed with truth than is this man, his need should challenge you. Surely you are not the coward who could stand by on the seashore and watch a fellow man who could not swim perish! How much more of value is this mans soul floundering in darkness compared to his body drowning in water! (U. B. p. 1430:3)

Im sure this discussion with Jesus helped this young Greek view his problem from a more spiritual perspective. And as we use this spiritual frame of reference in viewing our contemporary problems, we will arrive at more creative and effective solutions.

Guidelines for Action

The authors of The Urantia Book point out that Jesus was constantly doing good things for people "as he passed by." A study of the ways in which Jesus related to people indicates that he had a high degree of personal preparedness in his personal encounters. A list of some of the skills or techniques that Jesus possessed, which enabled him to minister to his fellow mortals so effectively, can serve as an excellent guideline in our efforts to maintain our spiritual perspective. When relating with people, Jesus was:

  • Very perceptive, sensitive to the persons inner thoughts and feelings. (We can show increased sensitivity and perceptivity by developing good listening skills, taking the time to be aware of body language).
  • Conscious of the individuals level of spiritual and intellectual development, always making sure to address them at the appropriate level.
  • Always interested in what they were doing while he seldom offered them advice unless they asked for it.
  • Cautious in not directly pointing out anothers flaws but would rather, through a series of questions, lead them to recognize those flaws themselves.
  • Never drawn into conflicts that could not be adequately dealt with when directed to the appropriate channel. (As we are not personally able to deal with every problem that arises, we should make an effort to become knowledgeable in the services that are available for dealing with conflicts).
  • Always able to provide words of comfort. He looked for the good and praised it. He left his fellows with some suggestion that was practical and immediately helpful. And he would always include in his discussion some message of the love of God and the truth that they were loved children of the Most High.

Opportunities for Service

To Ganid, the young man from India, who Jesus served as a tutor, he said, "To become acquainted with ones brothers and sisters, to know their problems and to learn to love them, is the supreme experience of living." (U. B. p. 1431:1) Later he also taught Ganid that he should, "Become interested in your fellows; learn how to love them and watch for the opportunity to do something for them which you are sure they want done." (U. B. p. 1439:1)

Although some of us may be employed in high tech professions where opportunities for intimate encounters and personal service to ones fellows are limited, we are currently undergoing a shift in the American job scene. The following is a quote from Jobs of the Future by Marvin Cetron. "Service occupations steadily have grown to become the economic roots of the U. S. work force. According to the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than two-thirds of the nations employment growth during the past twenty years has come in the service sector. By 2000, its predicted that as much as 90% of the U. S. labor force will work in service occupations."

Jesus gave the following message to the apostles in his farewell discourse.

"You have not merely chosen me, but I have also chosen you, and I have ordained you to go forth into the world to yield the fruit of loving service to your fellows even as I have lived among you and revealed the Father to you. The Father and I will both work with you, and you shall experience the divine fullness of joy if you will only obey my command to love one another, even as I have loved you." (U. B. p. 1945:2)

The authors of the Jesus papers comment on Jesus farewell discourse with these words.

"If you would share the Masters joy, you must share his love. And to share his love means that you have shared his service. Such an experience of love does not deliver you from the difficulties of this world; it does not create a new world, but it most certainly does make the old world new."

"Keep in mind: It is loyalty, not sacrifice, that Jesus demands. The consciousness of sacrifice implies the absence of that wholehearted affection which would have made such a loving service a supreme joy. The idea of duty signifies that you are servant-minded and hence are missing the mighty thrill of doing your service as a friend and for a friend. The impulse of friendship transcends all convictions of duty, and the service of a friend for a friend can never be called a sacrifice. The Master has taught the apostles that they are the sons of God. He has called them brethren, and now...he calls them his friends." ( U. B. p. 1945: 3,4)

"The old religion taught self-sacrifice; the new religion teaches only self-forgetfulness; enhanced self-realization in conjoined social service and universe comprehension. The old religion was motivated by fear-consciousness; the new gospel of the kingdom is dominated by truth-conviction, the spirit of eternal and universal truth. And no amount of piety or creedal loyalty can compensate for the absence in the life experience of kingdom believers of that spontaneous, generous, and sincere friendliness which characterizes the spirit-born sons of the living God. Neither tradition nor a ceremonial system of formal worship can atone for the lack of genuine compassion for ones fellows." (U. B. p. 1951:2)

It is obvious that both through the example and teachings of Jesus and the contemporary condition of our society, we have a tremendous task before us. To shift our attention from the material to the spiritual in order to better deal with the daily struggle of the workplace will take a very conscious effort. We can make a beginning at internalizing this spiritual perspective in our lives in the here and now, but we are told this process will continue in the next phase of our eternal career:

" will learn to let pressure develop stability and certainty; to be faithful and earnest and, withal, cheerful; to accept challenges without complaint and to face difficulties and uncertainties without fear.... If you fail, will you rise indomitably to try anew? If you succeed, will you maintain a well-balanced poise--a stabilized and spiritualized attitude--throughout every effort in the long struggle to break the fetters of material inertia, to attain the freedom of spirit existence?"

" will learn to suffer less through sorrow and disappointment, first, by making fewer personal plans concerning other personalities, and then, by accepting your lot when you have faithfully performed your duty."

"You will learn that you increase your burdens and decrease the likelihood of success by taking yourself too seriously...nothing equals the importance of the work of the world in which you are actually living. But though the work is important, the self is not. When you feel important, you lose energy to the wear and tear of ego dignity so that there is little energy left to do the work. Self-importance, not work-importance, exhausts immature creatures; it is the self element that exhausts, not the effort to achieve. You can do important work if you do not become self-important; you can do several things as easily as one if you leave yourself out." (U. B. p. 555: 4-6)

Dealing with Problems

Some time ago, I attended a weekend retreat entitled "Pathway to Wholeness--Understanding Stress and Our Crazy Extremes." The seminar was very insightful and I came home with many practical guidelines for dealing with daily problems. I learned that stress is the response to finding ourselves in a situation in which we have not developed adequate coping resources. We are all aware that two different individuals put in the same predicament will probably respond differently. While one may become anxious and begin to show the classic symptoms of stress, the other may efficiently deal with the situation without any difficulty at all. The difference is the result of one having had adequate resources to cope with the problem. They may have been through a similar situation in the past, and had some experience in dealing with the problem. Perhaps this person may have slept better the night before, or may have been in better health. Whatever the reason, they felt adequate and knew they could handle things.

Throughout the weekend we continued to talk about ways to improve our coping resources in order to avoid stress. There are seven aspects of our lives which need to be fostered in order that we grow into well-balanced, adequate individuals. We should strive to develop:

  • Otimal physical health
  • Rewarding family life and relations with primary others
  • Opportunities for mental stimulation and growth
  • The ability to express ones emotional experiences
  • Job satisfaction
  • The ability and the time to have fun
  • An ever deepening and enriching relationship with our Creator

We should be striving to develop adequate coping resources in order to better deal with the problems we are faced with on a daily basis. We need to progress to the level on which we can maintain our focus on the spiritual perspective and avoid conflict and stress by wholeheartedly believing in the power of Gods goodness and its eventual triumph over evil.

The effort to maintain a balance in the use of our time and energies will continue throughout our long sojourn toward Paradise. Ever and anon we will be engaged in work, progress, and play activities; or stated otherwise, in service, study, and relaxation activities. Jesus set the perfect example. He knew the importance of regular quiet time for prayer and worship, a time to revitalize oneself, to direct our focus to the spiritual perspectives in order that we might return from our meditations with a stronger dedication to doing the Fathers will.

The authors of The Urantia Book repeatedly remind us that ones vocation can be utilized as an effective "reflector" for the dissemination of the light of life. We are admonished to let our light so shine that our fellows will be guided into new and godly paths of enhanced living. To help us maintain our focus on the spiritual perspective let us remember Jesus words to the Alpheus twins in one of his resurrection appearances.

Never forget that, when you are a faith son of God, all upright work of the realm is sacred. Nothing which a son of God does can be common. Do your work, therefore, from this time on, as for God. And when you are through on this world, I have other and better worlds where you shall likewise work for me. And in all of this work, on this world and on other worlds, I will work with you, and my spirit shall dwell within you. (U. B. p. 2049:4)

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