Challenges for the Corporate Christian Lawyer
(by Monica Doumit)
A little while ago, I was invited to give a talk to a group of university students on the challenges of being a Catholic in a secular workplace.
I had spent almost 10 years as a corporate lawyer before making the switch to full-time ministry, and so the students were keen to hear from someone who had struggled with living out their faith in a very secular environment.
And while I don’t for a moment suggest that we should abandon the corporate world and look for roles within the Church, there were definitely a number of struggles I was ready to speak to them about.
There is the struggle of the hours you spend in the office, and the hours you spend doing work at home. On an average day, I would probably switch off at about 11pm , and there was always work to do on the weekends. After a while, you start wondering if the amount of time and energy you pour in to your work should be spent serving the Lord in a way which seems more directly linked to the building up of the Kingdom. There is always that persistent voice suggesting that your talents could be used for more than increasing the wealth of already wealthy people and companies.
And apart from your own hours, there is also the challenge of seeing how hard the people around you work – often at your behest. I recall sitting in a meeting with a number of external advisers one evening at around 9pm. We had been having nightly meetings while trying to get a deal across the line. At one point, I noticed that all except one of them were wearing wedding rings and I realised that these meetings – necessary as they were for the transaction to proceed – had meant these men and women hadn’t eaten dinner with their spouses or children in two weeks.
There were also so many times when I would be surviving on a couple of hours of sleep a night – again, usually when working towards a deadline. At those times, your relationship with God suffers immensely. Weeks would go by and my daily prayer life consisted of nothing more than “God, please just help me get through today”.
Indeed, when your prayer life and your sleep are fairly non-existent,
sin is usually close at hand
because your physical and spiritual defences are down!
All of these are very real challenges for the corporate Christian. While working hard and devoting minimal time to prayer are not necessarily sinful acts, they are hardly ingredients of the ideal Christian life, nor are they conducive to fostering virtue. Indeed, when your prayer life and your sleep are fairly non-existent, sin is usually close at hand because your physical and spiritual defences are down!
But despite these difficulties, the main message I wanted to convey to these young people was the significant privilege and blessing of being a Christian in the corporate world.
When I look back at my corporate career, I think of all of the wonderful opportunities available to me to witness to my faith amongst my colleagues.
I didn’t set out to let people know that I was Catholic, but it was a difficult thing to hide. I began to become more actively involved in Church life in the years leading up to Sydney’s World Youth Day and so my Catholic-ness became evident when people asked me what I was doing after work or during my annual leave.
I can’t remember my faith ever being a cause for conflict, even amongst colleagues who really disliked the Church.
Instead, it was the reason for countless moments of grace.
Colleagues would often confide in me when a family member was sick or going through a difficult time and ask for prayers, because they were not really people of prayer themselves but wanted to do everything possible for their loved one.
Other times people would go on holidays and bring me back a postcard or a trinket from a Church they had visited, because “being in a Church reminded me of you.”
I remember fondly the excitement of another work friend encountering the Gospels for the first time, long conversations about same-sex marriage or contraception over Friday night drinks, and many questions about whatever news meant the Church was in the headlines that day.
For so many, I was the only person they had met
who was actively involved in the life of the Church …
It is a heavy responsibility, no doubt,
but also a great privilege.
I realised that most people aren’t antagonistic when it comes to Christianity – they are generally people of goodwill who were just not raised in the practice of any faith, and so it is completely foreign to them.
For so many, I was the only person they had met who was actively involved in the life of the Church. It made me think often of the saying: “you may be the only Bible other people ever read.”
It is a heavy responsibility, no doubt, but also a great privilege.
Being known as a Christian in a secular workplace meant that I was invited in to the parts of people’s lives which they do not often share with their colleagues. I was blessed with being able to watch people encounter Christ or at least take tentative steps towards Him, to listen to their questions about faith and stand by them in their struggles.
Being in full-time ministry is a wonderful gift and an immense blessing. Even so, I still am and always will be grateful for the time I spent as a Catholic in corporate life. I would do it again in a heartbeat!
(by Lilian Schmid)
Jesus proclaims the Kingdom of God.
As described in the Gospel of Mark, when Jesus’ ministry begins, He announced “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15).
Jesus is the King of God’s true Kingdom.
Where the King is, there is the Kingdom. Jesus is both the faithful ruler and the righteous citizen of the Kingdom. “The kingdom of God is in the midst of you” (Luke 17:21).
Jesus reveals His purpose for the right Kingdom.
Jesus described his mission saying that He “must preach the good news of the kingdom of God” (Luke 4:43).
Jesus declares the Kingdom of God on Earth as it is in Heaven.
Jesus explains the Kingdom and invites people to enter into it. The declaration of the kingdom “On Earth as it is in Heaven” (Matthew 6:10).
Jesus demonstrates the Kingdom.
Through His works, Jesus shows the power of the kingdom and his authority over the prince of darkness: “if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” (Luke 11:20)
Jesus deploys the Kingdom.
Jesus sends his followers out as ambassadors of the kingdom with the Great Commission, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (Matthew 28:18) He is the true Messiah and the ruler of all Governments.
““… do not fear, for I myself will help you,” declares the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:14 )
Be assured that whoever you are and whatever you’re facing …
- The Lord wants to help each one of us.
- There is no problem too big for Him to handle.
- There is no challenge that is too great for Him to overcome.
- Whatever it is that you are facing, He will help you.
A Prayer for Daily Needs
thank You that I can look to You as my Helper and my Hope.
I call on You today and I ask that You would intervene in my situation,
and help me.
Repent on behalf of the sphere of Law and Justice. Ask for God’s mercy and grace for all engaged or involved in this sphere. Pray also for all to be restored into a one-on-one relationship with Christ Jesus.
- Denial of rights
- Social injustice
- Human trafficking
- Sexual abuse of children
- Psychological abuse
- Human slavery
- Secret societies
- Political injustice
- Rejection of refugees
- Physical intimidation
- Ineffective legal system
- Inaccessibility of justice
- Denial of right to justice
- Psychological intimidation
- Injustice of special courts
- Discrimination in employment
- Unjust punishments for crimes
- Injustice of religious courts
- Obsolete deliberative systems
- Injustice of trials in absentia
- Deficiencies in civil justice systems
- Unequal distribution of fame and honours
- Deficiencies in military codes of justice
- Discrimination against prisoners’ families
- Deficiencies in the criminal justice system
- Eminent domain
- Inadequate legal counsel for political dissidents
- Unrestrained use of force in administration of justice
- Money laundering
- Freedom of speech
- Corruption in the law system