[Originally co-authored by Mr. Randy Hain, Dr. Phil Thompson and Deacon Mike Bickerstaff]
The keynote speaker at the Inaugural Atlanta Catholic Business Conference back in February, 2009, was Dr. Michael Naughton, the Moss Endowed Chair in Catholic Social Thought; Director, John A. Ryan Institute for Catholic Social Thought; Full Professor, University of St. Thomas, Catholic Studies (College of Arts and Sciences) , Ethics and Law (Opus College of Business), national speaker and Catholic author.
Dr. Michael Naughton delivered a very illuminating talk titled “Beyond a Career, The Vocation of the Catholic Business Leader“. This is a talk that is much worth another look and listen.
Dr. Naughton started his talk by addressing the serious problem of living a “divided life.” He quoted Gaudium et spes which says, “The split between the faith which many profess and their daily lives deserves to be counted among the more serious errors of our age… Let there be no false opposition between professional and social activities on the one hand, and religious life on the other.” He then asked us to think about 3 Big Questions: (1) What am I working for? (2) What am I resting in? and (3) What am I living in?
Dr. Naughton addressed work as a vocation and reminded us of the Latin root word vocare, which means “to call” – a calling to give. A person “cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself” (Gaudium et spes, 24). He also reminded us that, no matter what our career, marriage and family must be pre-eminent! He walked us through the importance of selfless giving, but also the need to overcome our struggles with receiving. He said, “If we don’t get receiving right, we won’t get giving right.” Dr. Naughton struck a chord with the attendees as he defined leisure as a receptive contemplation and the critical need to have more of it in our lives.
Dr. Naughton gave us a checklist that sums up what Catholic business leaders should look like:
- They rest: go to church, pray daily, participate in the sacraments, practice the Sabbath, take retreats, etc.
- They work in a way that reflects a vocation, not just a career.
- They possess a moral code that is social in nature (common good, subsidiarity, social capital, etc.).
- They act like stewards and not owners.
- They have a bias for building (magnificence, collaborators with God).
- They practice humility: ambitions are for the company not themselves .
- They instill hope (not simply optimism) in difficult situations .
- They see grace in their work (and a bit of luck!) .
- Their decisions are based on “seeing things whole” (mission identity, stewardship).
We all had the feeling that there was a call to a new mission in his talk as illustrated by the quote he shared from Cardinal John Henry Newman: “God has created me for some definite service; I have my mission…I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for naught.”
For more information, visit the 2009 Recap on the ACBC website.