Being offered a job is always an exciting moment, but bear in mind that, if you’re a Catholic, there might be a few Catholic job questions to ask before signing on the dotted line. Even if it seems like the perfect fit, our faith asks us for discernment in the choices we make. This should extend to all areas of life, even our careers.
As accompaniment to your own prayer and discernment in job-hunting, here are five Catholic job questions you may considering asking before getting hired.
My brother-in-law used to work for a non-profit that funneled people’s donations to the different charities of their choice. One day he was asked to process a payment to Planned Parenthood. Uncomfortable with being a link in that supply chain, he left soon after.
We can’t always afford to get into the minutia of working for companies that never seem to stop supporting things which go against our faith, but some stick out more than others. Consider how your work is supporting other organizations beyond the one that sends the paycheck. Will you be asked to directly aid in that support? Inform yourself about how the company you are joining might undermine our faith through their dollars; and listen to your conscience.
During the interview process – or even after you’ve been offered a job – try to discover the sorts of activities you will be required to perform as part of your duties. A position might seem morally neutral, but many companies will ask their employees to do or show things that support causes contradictory to our Catholic beliefs.
For example, will you need to wear a gay pride shirt during the month of June? What about help at a pro-choice fundraiser? Will you be asked to sign something that you disagree with? An example from the past is the national controversy surrounding the bakers who refuse to make same-sex wedding cakes. How would you react if you were that baker? Things that might seem like no big deal to another employee could signal something more serious for you. Exterior support of an anti-Catholic cause – whether or not your heart is in on it – could be scandalous to others. Refusing to support it, on the other hand, can be a stepping stone to sainthood. Just look at St. Thomas More!
My husband worked construction after dropping out of seminary. Sometimes he’ll bring up the environment of that work and how, little by little, it began to negatively affect him. Your co-workers, your workspace, the language that you hear day-in and day-out; these are all factors to take seriously, especially if you’re choosing between multiple career options.
Work is work and it won’t always be fun, but most people have the luxury of choosing an environment that is at least a little more compatible with their morals. If the job you’re getting into is one that encourages licentious behavior or a continuous taking of the Lord’s name in vain, you might consider taking an alternate route. On the other hand, are your coworkers people who seem to care about others? Is it a professional environment that takes itself seriously? Can you find ways to grow as a person there, rather than fighting to just keep your head above water? It doesn’t have to be a Christian company to have a healthy environment.
Of these Catholic job questions, this one on human fulfillment is one of the most important to get right! The Church even gave us St. Joseph (whose life offers some practical advice for work) as the patron saint of workers! God gives each of us different gifts and skills that we can use in the workplace, and the dignity of work can’t be understated.
Depending on our stage and calling in life, the fruit that our labor bears may look different. To a father, providing for his family is the most important factor to consider. He may dream of church work, but if it doesn’t pay enough then he may have to look elsewhere. Conversely, a single person may have the freedom to take a lower paying job that does follow their dream career. Neither of these are more or less important than the other; they both allow them to follow God’s calling in their lives.
Understanding the difference between prioritizing a mission (such as family) and becoming a cog in corporate machines is key to this discernment. As a father, are you working so hard that you barely see your wife and children? Perhaps God is asking you to look elsewhere. Or is your career pursuit coming at a similar cost? Look at how to balance work and the rest of your life, and above all how to put Christ at the center.
I have heard stories of good people making seemingly illogical, cross-country moves for jobs that come out of nowhere. People close to them shake their heads in wonder and question their motives or even their sanity. Their explanation? “God is leading us there.”
Whether it is a doctor quitting his practice to move his entire family to mission work in another country, or a girl abandoning a California dream for the sake of a husband and children, sometimes the most obvious option isn’t the best one. Or maybe it is. Listen to that still, small voice – you can even utilize Ignatian discernment – and take a step forward. God uses all of our choices for good if we ask Him to!
No matter what age you are or what position you are contemplating, knowing the Catholic job questions to ask before taking a new position will aid in finding a good fit for you. Whether this is your temporary employment or a big step towards a forever career, God is with you!
About the Author
Ella Matthews is an actress and writer who graduated with a Communications Media degree from a film school in California. She loves tea, books and dresses and lives with her husband in Indiana. They are expecting their first child in January!