Don Flow is the CEO of the Flow Auto Group. The company represents twenty US and international manufacturers in Virginia and North Carolina. In speaking about his company and is approach to business, Don mentions the statistics that 30% of our lives are spent working and that 88% of people in the pews on Sunday have jobs. Thus Don, a practicing Christian, talks about The Redemptive Power of Business and the grander vision of a theology of human flourishing.
As Christians, Don has said that the workplace needs to be a place that enhances the life of the employee. Thus Don runs his business according to 3 principles:
- Covenant with our customers
- Community with one another
- Commitment to the common good of our communities
What does that look like?
- Covenant with our customers means always keeping our promise to the customer regardless to the financial impact to the company. In the Book of Proverbs, we read never to take advantage of anyone particularly the poor and disadvantaged. Thus Flow Auto limits company profits by reducing any transactional advantage that auto dealerships would have over the customer.
- Community with one another redefines the idea of “employee” more in line with St. Paul’s idea of the “different members of the body.” Thus, everybody’s contribution matters, no matter how seemingly insignificant. In addition, the company needs to take care of the various members of the body. Thus Flow Auto is constantly experimenting with work environment wellness programs, flex schedules and fitness centers. In addition, the company offers a $3,000 scholarship for the child of any employee who wants to attend college. Flow Auto also offers a $3,000 emergency fund for any employee who has run into a drastic situation and needs an immediate influx of personal cash flow to tide them over a personal tragedy or unexpected need.
- Commitment to the common good of our communities is carried out by Investing in truth goodness beauty justice and plenty. This means investments in: Social Capital, Political Capital and Aesthetic Capital in the neighborhoods in which the auto dealers are located. Every dealer is doing some employee-led community activity every month. In addition, if an employee and their family has an opportunity to participate in a service project that enhances the world, Don allows them to take company time – at full pay – as if the employee were on the job at the workplace.
Flow Auto Group is reflecting Psalm 16:11 – “You will show me the path of life, the fullness of joy in your presence, O Lord.”
What does this have to do with today’s reading and the Sacrament of Confession? One Pastor has said that “Sin has a faulty imagination” and that this can cause us to approach Confession as common, routine and poorly done. We need to do better. Jesuit priest Father John Foley S.J. says that we “need spittle put on our souls so that we will see clearly.”
Imagine considering the theology of human flourishing in marriage in light of what Don Flow does in his business. Is your spouse flourishing? If not, in what way are you the cause of that? How can you “creatively” approach your “covenant” to invest in them and their well-being? What needs of their body (physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual) are not being met that you can help address? In what way can both of you work together to enhance the “community” of your family or the greater community around you? Write these down and hand them to your spouse. Ask him or her, “What do you think of theses? Tell me what you think.” They’ll probably let you know.
What about doing the same drill in terms of a theology of human flourishing at your job? How about considering the theology of human flourishing in priesthood in line with Pope John Paul II Document on the Formation of Priests entitled “I Will Give You Shepherds?”
Let’s close with a series of Confession questions offered by Professor Anne Osdieck. They offer perhaps a new type of “examination of conscience:”
- Does the right grace come along with the call? When you feel you have been summoned to perform some task for God, what do you do? Do you assume that God will give you what you need to get the job done or do you back down at the thought of obstacles?
- Is the Church present in every dark place that you think Christ would be if he were physically present in the world today?
- In which of those dark places can you find your parish working to bring light?
- In which of those dark places do you see yourself working to bring light?
Audio version of the homily is here: