“A lot of work is soul-killing.”
Whenever I share this opinion, I ordinarily get strong agreement from whomever my conversation is with. And this agreement does not seem to vary much regardless of where in this world the person works. It is globally true. It does not seem to matter what position in their company’s organizational chart a person holds, folks in customer service seem to experience the same angst about their work as do executives. Level of income also has little effect; both rich and poor often hate their jobs or, at best, see them as a necessary evil. I have to credit rock band Radiohead for putting words to my own sense that all is not right about the way we do work. Their lyrics from the song “No Surprises” resonate for many people across many different boundaries, “A job that slowly kills you…with no alarms and no surprises.”
Something is terribly wrong. I am not saying that work for many people is simply boring or a necessary evil or unpleasurable. I am arguing that it is soul-killing. I believe that the ancient Greeks used the same word for “aliveness” as they did for “ensouled,” so what I am saying is that work is draining many people of their “aliveness.” How can we stand for a condition that is essentially a terminal illness for our souls? What are we if we are not alive?
What I believe and what I want to strive for is the kind of work that is “redemptive.” And the term “redemptive” applies in both the economic and theological sense of the word. I have a vision for workplaces that buy back the meaning in life that drains from us nearly every single day. Workplaces can be communities that ensoul us.
My hope for this blog is to talk about the experience of work. And more precisely, what it takes to create work and workplaces where we will all become more alive.