Joyful at Work

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

How often do we do something beautiful for God at work?  I mean, not the ordinary things we do at work, but the times when we think of God, and move forward with joy, and intentionally do our work with the idea that our work is something beautiful for God.

Consider the plethora of opportunities you have during the day to do something beautiful for God, with a cheerful disposition, and offer it to Our Lord as a gift, or as a sacrifice.

Ponder Blessed Mother Teresa’s joyful attitude about her work, even in the most desolate of circumstances:

“Cheerfulness is a sign of a generous and mortified person who forgetting all things, even herself, tries to please her God in all she does for souls.  Cheerfulness is often a cloak which hides a life of sacrifice, continual union with God, fervor and generosity.  A person who has this gift of cheerfulness very often reaches a great height of perfection.  For God loves a cheerful giver and He takes close to His heart the religious He loves.”  Blessed Mother Teresa in “Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light; The Private Writings of the “Saint of Calcutta,”” 2007).

My mom used to tell me, “God loves a cheerful giver.”  She would say in the context of me begrudgingly sharing my things, including candy with my siblings.  I would grumble, handing over their share.

It was not until I was faced with my husband’s death and eventual recovery that I began to understand that cheerfulness, especially when you are giving everything you’ve got, produces fruit in all sorts of ways.

Completing my dissertation research, I am reminded again of cheerfulness and sacrifice, but applied to the work setting.  I think the leadership that women naturally bring to a situation is ripe for this type of cheerfulness and sacrifice at work.  Perhaps rekindling this kind of leadership in the work place can assist in the New Evangelization, especially in this Year of Faith.

Imagine this…bearing sacrifices and negativity – with a cheerful heart…in a way that treats others as “Jesus in disguise” (Blessed Mother Teresa), IN THE WORK PLACE!  This would be quite contrary to what we see in a typical day at work.  Usually you see negativity returned for negativity; insult for insult; eye for an eye.  But we can be different…we are called to be different.

We can freely choose to live this way…the way Blessed Mother Teresa led in her work…the way Blessed John Paul II led in his work…the way the Proverbs 31 wife led in her business affairs…the way Our Lady shows us through her virtue and beauty.  All of this leads us to Christ, and perhaps leads others as well.


You see, my main vocation is being a wife and mother…and I struggle being cheerful all the time there.  As I apply this to my work life, I recognize how imperfect I am, and how difficult it is to live up to the call of Blessed Mother Teresa.  I mean, she was MOTHER TERESA!

But what if we suspend doubt for a moment, and realize that our choice in this way could completely change the way we work, and maybe how others work as well?  What if we spent the eight hours of the day at work, in service to others, as we joyfully complete our work and offer it as a gift to God?

Since completing my degree, and starting this blog, I’ve had women (and some men) contact me to tell me how they approach their work.  I’ve heard incredible stories about the cheerfulness and joy of God others bring to the work day…Recently, I heard from a professional in the medical field who told me that she carries Holy Cards of Our Lady of Perpetual Help with her, which she gives to her patients.  As she cheerfully takes care of their physical needs, she nurtures their spiritual needs as well.  What a gift to bring to work!

Just like St. Therese of Lisieux talks about in her diary…it’s the little things…done with love.  Ordinary lives of faith.  Offering our gifts back to God as thanksgiving to Him for everything.  We can turn our work into this kind of sacrifice and beauty.  As Catholic women of faith who work outside of the home, I would argue we are called to live this in the work world.  I saw this with my Momma when she worked at Wal-Mart.

Before working for Wal-Mart, my mom and dad owned a hardware store providing them lots of joy, a way to serve the community, and a way to provide for our family.  When Wal-Mart became big in the 90’s, mom and dad’s business started to go downhill.  What could have been a situation which caused much grief and bitterness turned into an opportunity to intentionally do the work of God.  Momma went to work for the “enemy” as a department store manager in the hardware department at Wal-Mart.  I always knew Momma brought much cheerfulness to her day, with the way she worked.  Each time I would see her in Wal-Mart, she would stop what she was doing, take my little daughter, and “show her off” to her colleagues.  At Momma’s funeral, many of her colleagues told my siblings and I that my Momma taught them how to lead at work – with joy in everything you do, and with a strong work ethic.  They remarked about how many times my Momma would let them know she was praying for them.

To most people, I suspect they would not see someone who works at Wal-Mart as a leader.  However, it isn’t your position or title; it is who you are and how you treat others, in order to get a job done.  My Momma was a leader because of HOW she did her work:  with cheerfulness and joy, bearing small sacrifices and negativity with a smile.

What about you?  How does your attitude at work impact the work environment?  Do you just get it done, or do you bring cheerfulness and joy to the work that you do?  Do you intentionally let God know you are thankful, and intend to complete your work with a cheerful attitude and joyful orientation?  I am going to try this week to bear the small sacrifices and negativity by bringing cheerfulness into my attitude at work.  I want to see “Jesus in disguise” when working with others, knowing that our work, offered to God, is pleasing.  This may be a good thing to ponder during this Year of Faith.

Peace of Christ to you and yours.


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About the Author

Mary Wallace, PhD, is a devout Catholic wife of 20 years, mother of 4 daughters, and college administrator for 19 years. Mary obtained her doctorate in Human Resource Education and Workforce Development, and has a particular research interest in faith and work issues. Her dissertation contains research insight from women working in the public sector who bring their faith to work, and using it to inform their leadership. It is through this research that Mary was able to start the blog, The Working Catholic Mom (

Mary is also the co-host of a Catholic radio show: Faith and Good Counsel, on Baton Rouge Catholic Community Radio. The radio show is focused on women living full lives of faith.

As a college administrator for over 19 years, Mary has worked with a wide range of young adults. Spending the first 14 years in the college housing industry, she has a knowledge and experience of working with complex environment, large staffs, and multi-million dollar budgets. Using this knowledge, she has led numerous staffs through strategic planning processes, performance management, training and development, and developing human capital. Her current role focuses on student leadership development, service/volunteerism, and general involvement on a college campus. Mary approaches her leadership with faith as a foundation, though her employment has been mainly with public institutions of higher education.

In 2002, Mary became the main wage earner in her family, when her husband, Steven, became disabled as a result of a traumatic brain injury after a ruptured colon left him sceptic and in the hospital for an entire summer, followed by a year of neuro-rehabilitation. The Wallace’s focused on their faith, and discerned each step of a new journey, full of Christian suffering and joy. During this time, Mary was thankful for her education, and God-given skills and talents to work, and to earn an income to support her family. This is also a time Mary learned to bring her faith to work, in a way that integrated her faith and leadership approach.

Mary’s work brings her great joy, but the greatest joy she has is through her faith and her family. She is a devoted wife, and mother of 4 daughters. It is this role that Mary feels her best leadership shines. She spends lots of time in service with her church, and volunteering for different youth events with her children. Mary is an avid reader and writer, and focuses her reading attention on women’s interest in the Catholic Church, with particular interest in Blessed John Paul II writings and philosophies about women. Mary also enjoys dancing with her girls in her living room (when no one is looking), and cooking simple satisfying meals for the entire family and all of their friends.

Mary is available to speak to your group. Check out ICL's speaker pages for her topics and to book Mary.

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