Work and play are often seen as the antithesis of each other, and twentieth-century scholars of play often used their writings on play an as indictment of industrial work. However, a worldview that incorporates God’s Kingdom in the here and now as redeemed but not yet restored provides room for play in all realms of life, including work. In this article, I argue that play is an attribute of both work and workers and that Christian organizations provide the playground when their missions are anchored in the eschaton and hold the flourishing of employees as a central value. Margaret Diddams is the editor of Christian Scholar’s Review.
At its best, work seems never-ending only because, like life, it is a pilgrimage, a journey in which we progress not only through the world but through stages of understanding. Good work, done well for the right reasons and with an end in mind, has always been a sign, in most human traditions, of an inner and outer maturity.—David Whyte, Crossing the Unknown Sea1
In this issue, we take a serious look at play: its meaningfulness for the Christian life, the imago Dei found in playing, and a theology of play. As others have pointed out, play is so ubiquitous and so likely to be associated with children that it has languished as a topic of serious study outside of childhood development and with little agreement on its definition. However, those who took up interest in play as an academic topic in the twentieth century were certain about what it was not: work. In fact, some of the best-known pieces on play in the past century emphasized its antithesis to the drudgery and meaninglessness that was seen by many as inherent in industrialized work. Dutch Historian Johan Huizinga was one of the earliest twentieth-century writers on play, arguing in 1938 that by its very nature, play could not be coerced and that paid labor as a form of coercion was separate from his definition of play. Huizinga saw play as “a free activity standing quite consciously outside ‘ordinary’ life as being ‘not serious,’ but at the same time absorbing the player intensely and utterly. It is an activity connected with no material interest, and no profit can be gained by it.”2 While ostensibly writing about play, his work was just as strongly an indictment against the alienation wrought by capitalistic systems.
Somewhat relatedly, and a decade later, Philosopher Josef Pieper begins his book, “Leisure: The Basis of Culture,”3 by criticizing Western culture’s overemphasis on work, which has robbed it of the practice of leisure. Early on, to make his point that we have disordered cultural priorities that privileges the importance of work, Pieper quotes Aristotle’s famous sentence from “Nicomachean Ethics,” “we work in order to be at leisure.”4 Similarly to Huizinga, Pieper writes that work, as opposed to leisure, is a “useful activity,” and as such it is a commodity that has no intrinsic meaning. As an extension to this thesis, he adds that the laborer, having sold his labor as a commodity for wages, has his own intrinsic worth shrunken by the working state. On the other hand, Pieper argues that “leisure is an affirmative condition (the very opposite of idleness) by which man transcends the world of work, and having transcended it, is enabled to contemplate these things which lie beyond it – himself, the universe, and God.”5 Work, for Pieper, has become both idolatrous and a form of enslavement. Leisure is the necessary antidote for both individuals’ souls and Western culture. Almost to the end of the twentieth century, leisure would be defined in academic studies as time that was not devoted to paid labor, regardless of its attributes.6
Some twenty years later, Theologian Jurgen Moltmann, in his “Theology of Play,”7 also contended that in twentieth-century Western culture, the root causes of both meaningless labor and alienated play could be found in the control of the ruling political authority; they had become the servant of the oppressor. Worse still, he argued, play had become modeled on the emptiness of work, diminishing its hopefulness. Play, if it was to become authentic and regain its joyfulness, must be separated from earthly powers and refocused on the eschaton. Moltmann, seeing no similar hope for work, does not make a similar plea to the eschaton for its redemption.
In these best-known twentieth-century examples of the dialectical tensions between work and play/leisure, the authors do not write that work can be redeemed. Instead, their solutions to the ills of Western society, that have even seeped into the church, are found outside of work. This argument is indicative of a “corrective” view between work and play where play/leisure are the antidotes for much that is wrong in a society where work has become an idol.
Early reformers such as Luther, Calvin, and later, Wesley, took an opposite approach to the relationship between work and play, privileging work over play and viewing work as a gift from God given to humanity in the Garden of Eden and as part of one’s vocational calling. In their writings, service and sacrifice are more befitting the life of a Christian.8 Historically, the protestant work ethic limited play for both adults and children. Instead, sabbath rest was not only a time for worship but also a time to give servants and laborers relaxation from their labors.9 For adults, relaxation was done to refresh oneself in order to be able to work well.10
It is instructive at this point to discuss the views of Aristotle and Calvin on play and leisure. While they used similar language to describe activities that were instrumental to work or intrinsic to their own purposes, they differed on the ultimate meaning associated with activities done for their own sake. As noted above, play, which Aristotle also referred to as “amusements,” such as relaxation, recreation, and entertainment, were to be instrumental to other realms of life. In “Nicomachean Ethics,” Aristotle writes, “amusement is a form of rest; but we need rest because we are not able to go on working without a break, and therefore it is not an end, since we take it as a means to further activity.”11 Leisure, as noted in Aristotle’s “Politics Book VIII,” such as serious conversation, music, or drama, was an end unto itself, freely chosen and only possible once play and work were complete.12 Play was in service to work, which in turn, was in service to leisure. Aristotle saw play without instrumentality as harmful, writing, “the pleasures of entertainment indulged in for their own sakes, and left to themselves without dominating guidance, lead to ruin.”13 However, leisure, which was done for its own sake, was an ultimate good, causing no harm and benefiting both self and society.
Calvin approved of time away from work, writing that in addition to the activities of worship, sabbath was a time of resting from work and giving servants and laborers relaxation. Christians were allowed to be entertained by honest diversions such as Christian plays if they provided religious education.14 Likewise, Calvin saw delight in the clear and manifest works of God in creation,15 and some activities, such as eating, were not only necessary but had intrinsic “delight and good cheer.”16 Similar to Aristotle, amusements, for Calvin, which had no purpose outside of their own pleasure, were not worthy of Christian engagement. The term “amusement” when used in Calvin’s “Institutes” always refers to some inconsequential or derisive activity.17 However, for Calvin, leisure was not an intrinsic activity with ultimate meaning: that was left to soli Deo gloria.
In the twentieth century, this instrumental view gave way to a more complementarian view of play and work where work was still part of God’s plan and vocational calling, but non-work, whether leisure as relaxation, play, or sabbath keeping, was also part of that call and not instrumental to work. As Rabbi Abraham Heschel explains, “The Sabbath is a day for the sake of life. Man is not a beast of burden, and the Sabbath is not for the purpose of enhancing the efficacy of his work.”18 Leland Ryken makes a similar point, about the intrinsic value of leisure, writing, “the New Testament confirmed that God not only allows leisure but requires it.”19 While play and leisure are both endorsed for their own sake, given the incessant demands of industrial and now post-industrial, information-based labor, other contemporary writers on the theology of play have been squeamish about not having a bright line between work and play. Theologian Robert Johnston, in “The Christian at Play,” wrote that when play and work are muddled, such as a work retreat, the autonomy that should be associated with play is reduced and the impact of play is diminished because it is experienced half-heartedly and superficially.20 “Work,” Johnston wrote, “which is meant to be part of life, often threatens to consume the whole of life.”21 The move to the boundaryless information economy only heightens this concern. In the current cultural context, making time for play might just save us from ourselves.
While the complementarian view upholds the value of leisure and play as important normative22 and empirical23 aspects of flourishing for individuals as well as cultures, I argue further for an integrative model of play and work. Good work, done well for the right reasons and with an end in mind, is akin to play, and playing at work is essential for employees to flourish.
To unpack how employees can play at work, it is important to understand the nature of play. Scholarship on this topic has two general directions with play-focused attributes centered on play itself and player-focused attributes centered on the characteristics of individuals while at play.24 Beginning with play-focused attributes, Psychologist Peter Grey, in analyzing current definitions of play, concluded that it has four basic characteristics; 1) play is self-chosen and self-directed; 2) play is intrinsically motivated—means are more valued than ends; 3) play is guided by mental rules, but the rules leave room for creativity; and 4) play is imaginative.25 Games, which include the above attributes, are more formal and ritualistic forms of play.26 Louise Sauvéand her colleagues’27 synthesis of the characteristics of games align with Grey’s attributes of play and give further framing to this ritualized nature of play. According to Sauvé, all games have rules which can be external to the game or are agreed upon by the players ahead of time.28 Rules provide guidelines that shape the relationships among the players. To that end, the second characteristic of games is some form of relationship among players and between players with their game environment. Even when playing solo games, there is an “other” of some sort to outdo, even if it only one’s past performance. Third, games have an end-goal that provides clarity of a victory and signals that the game is over. Next, there is some form of uncertainty in a game: how the game will unfold and who will win. This uncertainty is fueled by some form of conflict or competition which often requires coordination and cooperation. For individual sports, such as swimming or track, this competition can be framed in achieving personal records. Finally, there is some sort of artificiality or otherness that differentiates games from the rest of life. Taken together, these attributes of play and games leave room for the toddler blowing bubbles in the park, hours at sudoku, and athletes honing their skills in practice or playing in competition.
The expansiveness of the attributes of play also makes it a difficult research topic. Educator Brian Sutton-Smith was at the forefront of the research on this dilemma. After identifying over 135 attributes of play, he made the argument for a less focused approach on the “what” that is being done during play and more of an emphasis on how people play.29 He writes,
Play as we know it is primarily a fortification against the disabilities of life. It transcends life’s distresses and boredoms and, in general, allows the individual or the group to substitute their own enjoyable, fun-filled theatrics for other representations of reality in a tacit attempt to feel that life is worth living. … In many cases as well, play lets us exercise physical or mental or social adaptations that translate—directly or indirectly—into ordinary life adjustment.30
For Sutton-Smith, play isn’t about carving out its role in life but imbuing play into life. To this end, scholars on play often focus on player-focused attributes by studying the characteristics of a person at play.31 Theologian Brian Edgar refers to this focus as a person’s “playfulness,” incorporating freedom, delight, and creativity. He suggests that a playful attitude “lies at the very heart of spirituality and is critical for the whole of life.”32 Play isn’t so much about what we do as who we are.
Play has one more important attribute: its role in the eschaton. A realized eschatology recognizes that God’s kingdom, while not yet perfected, is present among us33 and gives us reason for hope not just in the afterlife but in the here and now. As Albert Wolters writes, redemption of God’s kingdom has already begun since the “healing restoring work of Christ marks the invasion of the kingdom into the fallen creation.”34 Subsequently the eschaton is also about “those things which possess finality and ultimacy of meaning.”35 Yet, God is not saving His end purposes for the end times alone. Both the Old and New Testament are full of parties, dancing, feasts, festivals, and songs of praise that will culminate in the ultimate celebration at the restoration of God’s kingdom. If play is part of God’s Kingdom and the eschaton is associated with ultimate meaning, then play must be part of that ultimate meaning. Theologian Jürgen Moltmann drew just such a conclusion. After publishing his view of realized eschatology in “Theology of Hope” in 1964,36 Moltmann came to realize the importance of play in his view of the eschaton that is both present and future oriented, publishing his “Theology of Play” 37 in 1972. As he did in his “Theology of Hope,” in “Theology of Play” he argues that the eschaton is present now. In consequence, we should strive to live spontaneously, as if playing, which gives a foretaste of the joy we will experience in the fulfillment of God’s kingdom. Edgar echoes this, writing, “a playful attitude, I suggest, lies at the very heart of spirituality and is critical for the whole of life. It will enrich our lives if we come to see that play is essential and an ultimate form of relationship with God.”38 Play as part of God’s kingdom has redemptive purposes.
Taking the eschatological aspects of play seriously suggests that it should be an essential attribute of all of life, including work. Play should not be an escape from work but a prescription for work. As I have noted elsewhere, the social shift to paid and industrialized labor outside the home at the end of the nineteenth century required social gymnastics to ascribe meaning to increasingly meaningless work.39 Pieper, Huizinga, Moltmann, and Johnson, in their normative critiques of industrial labor, were rightly concerned that the zeitgeist that elevated capitalism as the highest cultural good while dehumanizing work, and by extension workers, would bulldoze through or significantly alter the meaning of other social goods, including play. When divorced from the ultimate meaning found in God’s redemptive purpose, work will be experienced as toilsome.40 Not all work is objectively fit for play.41
Yet, what might be the consequences for work if it is intentionally imbued with these three attributes of play? Poet David Whyte’s quote at the beginning of this article, regarding good work, done well for the right reasons and with an end in mind, speaks to work that is play-focused, player-focused, and a work-place that is focused on values pertaining to employee flourishing and ultimate meaning. While any organization can create the conditions for play through a mission that transcends the materialist goal of optimizing shareholder value, for Christian organizations, this ultimate meaning is tied to the good news and hope of the eschaton.
Play-focused work pertains to the activities associated with one’s job. In his description of work, Whyte writes that “good work is work that makes sense, and that grants sense and meaning to the one who is doing it and to those affected by it.”42 The attributes of games help to organize how to understand meaningful work.43
In the workplace, rules are often seen as strictures that constrain work, stealing agency and thus dignity from work.44 But in a game, the rules are meant to be guidelines shaping expectations of appropriate actions. People play at work when they have clear job descriptions, reporting structures, and manageable workloads.45 They know what they will be evaluated on at their annual reviews. Pay is fair and equitable. They have work-life balance and do not feel guilty when they are not working.
People play at work when they have meaningful relationships; just like teammates on the pitch who put the needs of the team before themselves and look out for each other off the court, play entails building community—experiencing trust, compassion, and caring. Work teams collaborate rather than compete and people celebrate the success of co-workers. Teaming is not just dividing up an assignment. Playing means serving others, seeing the “we” beyond the “me.”46
Games, even if “just for fun,” have a purpose; there is an end point with winners and losers. People play at work when they have a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction in seeing how they have contributed to important outcomes.47 The sports metaphors of scoring, blocking, rebounding, crossing the finish line, along with Paul’s reflection in II Timothy 2:7 of fighting the good fight, finishing the race and keeping the faith, all speak to the satisfaction of seeing the fruit of one’s labor.
In games, how the play unfolds is never certain. Huizinga was adamant in his arguments with his critics that play includes competition because it heightens engagement with the uncertainty aspect of play. People play at work when their jobs are not fully routinized. Appropriate novelty and variety are important aspects of employee engagement.48 At the other end of the continuum, work loses the aspect of a game when the rules are thrown out the window by “other duties as assigned,” and each day is another set of emergencies. Play is impossible with over-routinization or constant crises.
Finally, it can be hard to grasp the idea of playing at work, since playing is not “real.” This bifurcation between the two is reinforced by the artificiality that is attributed to games. But that artificiality also lends itself to imagination and creativity. People play at work when they dream up new ways of working, new products, services, different ways of teaching and different organizational structures that support new ways of working. As Edgar writes, “work needs play to see things differently, to generate ideas, to encourage participation and experimentation, imagination and passion.”49 There is a seriousness to play that is not artificial nor an oxymoron.
Playing not only provides the liminal space between what work is and what it could be but between the identity of who employees are and who they imagine they could be.50 If “good work” represents playing at work, “done well” is more than just a high level of craftsmanship, it is an attitude of playfulness at work. While games have a start and finish, playfulness at work is an ongoing pilgrimage where there is an integrity between an internal sense of self and the self that is brought to work. Too often adults equate playing with artificiality; “playing around,” “goofing off,” or “playing the fool.” But meaningful work is central to self-worth. People do not only work to fulfill their organization’s goals. They are motivated to craft their own work experience through fulfilling personal goals at work.51 There is a playfulness in finding congruence between personal growth and the work at hand. Playing around in this sense is about opportunities for employees to learn, create, and experiment not only with issues at work but with their sense of self. It is about spiritual formation, personal development, and deepening relationships for their own sake.52 Edgar stresses playfulness as the essence of play, writing, “a playful attitude, I suggest, lies at the very heart of all spirituality and is critical for the whole of life. It will enrich our lives if we come to see that play is the essential and ultimate for our relationship with God.”53 Good work, done well is the fit between the attributes of play at work and this attitude of playfulness.
Just as Aristotle and Calvin disdained amusements with no purpose, good work, done well can still be meaningless or even harmful without theological or ethical anchoring. It does not in itself bring forth hope which must have some ultimate purpose; it must be done for the right reasons and with an end in mind. For Christians, this ultimate purpose is the work of God’s kingdom rooted in the eschaton. Eschatological hope is both transcendent because it is grounded in God’s kingdom and radical because it requires trust in a kingdom that is not yet restored. People play in light of eschatological hope when what they do is focused on something larger than themselves and for which they may never see the fruit of their labor, yet trust in God’s promises regarding the ultimate purpose of their work.
Nobel Peace laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu provides such an example of play grounded in eschatological hope. In 1985, prior to the end of apartheid in South Africa, Tutu came to speak at a friend’s Episcopal Church outside of New York City, where my family attended. Although Nelson Mandela would not be released for another five years, Tutu invited the small congregation to dance with him in celebration because apartheid would be defeated. Fourteen years later, in his book, “No Future Without Forgiveness,” he wrote about his belief that God would vanquish apartheid and that during its darkest time “when evil seemed to be on the rampage and about to overwhelm goodness, one held on to this article of faith by the skin of one’s teeth. It was a kind of theological whistling in the dark and one was frequently tempted to whisper in God’s ear ‘for goodness sake, why don’t you make it obvious that You are in charge?’”54 Tutu, in practicing eschatological hope, described his work through dance.
While good work, done well are characteristic of employees, their organizations are most likely the source of work’s “right reasons and an end in mind.” An end in mind speaks to the ultimate purpose of a Christian organization whose mission is anchored in the eschaton. The right reasons are values that flow from that mission and, being tied to the eschaton, will include employee flourishing. It is the fit among the attributes of employees, their work, organizational values, and the eschatological focus of their workplace that create a playground where employees are fully able to play.
Like games, playgrounds have rules and expectations. Employees fully play when they know the boundaries of where they are playing. Christian organizations shape the contours of their playground by keeping their mission at the forefront of their work,55 aligning their strategy, goals, products, outcomes, and values with the vision of themselves as part of the eschaton. Capitulation to financial and social pressures, even in small doses, that draw Christian organizations away from their eschatological mission can erode the contours of their playground over time. 56
Secondly, employees fully play when their sense of vocational calling from God aligns with the mission of their organization,57 and they see how their work makes a meaningful contribution to support it.58 With a strong connection between organizational mission and personal calling, employees experience greater flourishing when they believe they are contributing to something larger than themselves even if they do not see its fruition in their lifetime.59
Employees fully play when their organizations value them for who they are as well as what they do and support their well-being. Organizations build their playground by working from a hermeneutic of trust rather than suspicion, empowering all to bring an authentic sense of self to their work.60 With no sense of shame or “hiding” of who they are, employees are more likely to experience opportunities for spiritual formation in their Christian workplaces.61 At the same time, playgrounds are a source of whimsy. Employees fully play when cross-divisional collaboration is encouraged, building a sense of organizational comradery, belonging, mutual trust and support.62
In a kingdom not yet restored, playgrounds are not always safe from outsiders who attack the work and integrity of Christian organizations. But employees can still play, finding resiliency in dark moments when they see continued purpose in their work, maintain their commitment to their calling and find support in the organization.63 Unfortunately, playgrounds are also not always safe from within. Christian workplaces are not immune from bad actors, systemic sin, and injustices. Racism, sexism, bullying, capriciousness, competition, backbiting, and petty politics leave broken glass in the playground. Christian organizations live out their eschatological values by addressing their own brokenness. Reconciliation is not just about healing wounds; it’s about ensuring that all employees have an even playing field.
Playing at work is an ongoing dance among the attributes of good work, done well for the right reasons and with an end in mind. With a view toward the eschaton, playing at work brings forth a sense of joy in a kingdom that is redeemed and a source of resilience while waiting on its restoration. We find hope in both the lightness and gravity of our work when we play.
Cite this article
- David Whyte, Crossing the Unknown Sea: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity (New York: Riverhead Books, 2002), 12.
- Johan Huizinga, Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-element in Culture (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1938 & 1955), 13.
- Josef Pieper, Leisure, the Basis of Culture (London: Faber and Faber, 1948 & 1952).
Ibid, 4. See Nicomachean Ethics X.7 (1177b4-6).
- Ibid., 149.
- John T. Haworth, Work, Leisure, and Well-Being (London: Routledge, 1997), 2.
- Jürgen Moltmann, Theology of Play (New York: Harper & Row, 1972).
- Brian Edgar, The God Who Plays: A Playful Approach to Theology and Spirituality (Eugene OR: Cascade Books, 2017), 76-82.
- Calvin, Institutes, II.8.32
- See Edgar, The God Who Plays, 78.
- Nicomachean Ethics, 1176b32 – 1177 al.
- Joseph Owens, “Aristotle on Leisure,” Canadian Journal of Philosophy 11.4 (1981): 716.
- Ibid, 717.
- Ibid, 717.
- Calvin, Institutes, 1:14.20.
- Ibid., 3.10.2.
- Ibid., 3.11.4.
- Abraham Heschel, The Sabbath: Its Meaning for Modern Man (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1979), 14.
Leland Ryken, Redeeming the Time: A Christian Approach to Work and Leisure (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1995), 207.
- Robert Johnston, The Christian at Play (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1983).
- Ibid., 129.
- Aaron Harper, “Playing, Valuing, and Living: Examining Nietzsche’s Playful Response to Nihilism,” The Journal of Value Inquiry 50.2 (2016): 305–323.
- René Proyer and Frank A. Rodden, “Is the Homo Ludens Cheerful and Serious at the Same Time? An Empirical Study of Hugo Rahner’s Notion of Ernstheiterkeit,” Archive for The Psychology of Religion 35.2 (2013): 213–231.
- Edgar, The God Who Plays, 63-67.
- Peter Gray, “Play as a Foundation for Hunter-Gatherer Social Existence,” American Journal of Play 1:1 (2009): 476-522.
- There is not complete agreement on the definitions and thus relationship among play, games, and sports, although there is a generally a common understanding that there is strong compatibility among the three phenomena. See Richard Gruneau, “Freedom and Constraint: The Paradoxes of Play, Games, and Sports,” Journal of Sport History 7.3 (1980): 68-86; Bernard Suits, “Tricky Triad: Games, Play, and Sport,” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport 15.1 (1988): 1-9.
- Louise Sauvé, Lise Renaud, David Kaufman, and Jean-Simon Marquis, “Distinguishing Between Games and Simulations: A Systematic Review,” Journal of Educational Technology and Society 10.3 (July 2007): 247-256.
- Players may also agree ahead of time that the rules will unfold as the game plays out.
- Brian Sutton-Smith, The Ambiguity of Play (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997).
- While games have an artificiality to them, play, which can imbue all of life, does not necessarily have this artificiality. Brian Sutton-Smith, “Play Theory: Personal Journey and Thoughts,” Journal of Play 1.1 (2009): 80-123.
- Gray’s fifth attribute of play, “conducted in an alert, active, but relatively non-stressed frame of mind,” follows in this vein.
- Edgar, The God Who Plays, ix.
- Luke 17:20-21; Once Jesuswas asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, and he answered, “The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; 21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ For, in fact, the kingdom of God is amongyou.” (NRSV)
- Albert Wolters, Creation Regained: Biblical Basics for a Reformational Worldview (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2005), 76.
George E. Ladd, The Presence of The Future: The Eschatology of Biblical Realism Rev. Ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1974), 17.
Jürgen Moltmann, Theology of Hope:On the Ground and the Implications of a Christian Escha-tology 1st U.S. ed. (New York: Harper & Row, 1967).
- Jürgen Moltmann, Robert E. Neale, Sam Keen, and David Miller, Theology of Play (New York: Harper & Row, 1972).
- Edgar, The God Who Plays, 126.
- Margaret Diddams and J. Lee Whittington, “Book Review Essay: Revisiting the Meaning of Meaningful Work,” The Academy of Management Review 28.3 (2003): 508-512.
- Margaret Diddams and Denise Daniels, “Good Work with Toil: A Paradigm for Redeemed Work,” Christian Scholars Review 38.1 (2008): 64-82.
- Joanne Ciulla, The Working Life: The Promise and Betrayal of Modern Work (New York: Times Books, 2000).
- Whyte, 13.
- Brent D. Rosso, Kathryn H. Dekas, and Amy Wrzesniewski, “On the Meaning of Work: A Theoretical Integration and Review,” Research in Organizational Behavior 30.1 (2010): 91-127; Catherine Bailey, Marjolein Lips‐Wiersma, Adrian Madden, Ruth Yeoman, Marc Thompson, and Neal Chalofsky, “The Five Paradoxes of Meaningful Work: Introduction to the Special Issue ‘Meaningful Work: Prospects for the 21st Century,’” Journal of Management Studies 56.3 (2019): 481–499.
- Randy Hodson, Dignity at Work (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001).
- Marjolein Lips-Wiersma and Lani Morris, “Discriminating Between ‘Meaningful Work’ and the ‘Management of Meaning,’” Journal of Business Ethics 88.3 (2009): 504.
- Glen Kreiner, Elaine Hollensbe, and Mathew Sheep, “Where is the ‘Me’ Among the ‘We’? Identity Work and The Search for Optimal Balance,” Academy of Management Journal 49.5 (2006): 1031–1057; Jincen Jih-Yu Mao Xiao, Jing Quan, and Tao Qing, “Relationally Charged: How and When Workplace Friendship Facilitates Employee Interpersonal Citizenship,” Frontiers in Psychology 11 (2020): https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00190.
- Roy Baumeister and Kathleen Vohs, “The Pursuit of Meaningfulness in Life,” in The Handbook of Positive Psychology, eds. C. R. Snyder and Shane Lopez (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002), 608–618.
- Employees have a greater sense of workplace engagement when they experience choice, accomplishment, and belongingness. See Edward Deci and Richard Ryan, “The ‘What’ and ‘Why’ of Goal Pursuits: Human Needs and The Self-Determination of Behavior,” Psychological Inquiry 11.4 (2000): 227–268.
- Edgar, The God Who Plays, 84.
- Helen Markus, “Self-Schemata and Processing Information About the Self,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 35.2 (1977): 63–78.
- Margaret Diddams, “The Influence of Process-Oriented Self-Concept Goals on Organizational Attitudes and Intentions,” Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychologists(Orlando, FL: 1995).
- Justin Berg, Adam Grant, and Victoria Johnson, “When Callings Are Calling: Crafting Work and Leisure in Pursuit of Unanswered Occupational Callings,” Organization Science 21.5 (2010): 973–994.
- Edgar, The God Who Plays, 126.
- Desmond Tutu, No Future Without Forgiveness (New York: Doubleday, 1999).
- Peter Singer, How are We to Live? (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1995).
James Burtchaell, The Dying of the Light: The Disengagement of Colleges and Universities from Their Christian Churches (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1998); George Marsden, The Soul of the American University: From Protestant Establishment to Established Nonbelief (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994).
- Bryan Dik and Ryan Duffy. “Calling and Vocation at Work: Definitions and Prospects for Research and Practice,” The Counseling Psychologist, 37:3 (2009): 424–450.
- Baumeister and Vohs.
- Manuel Guillén, Ignacio Ferrero, and W. Michael Hoffman, “The Neglected Ethical and Spiritual Motivations in the Workplace,” Journal of Business Ethics, 128, (2015): 803–816; Joseph Weiss, Michael Skelley, D. Tim Hall, and John Haughey, “Calling, New Careers, and Spirituality: A Reflective Perspective for Organizational Leaders and Professionals,” in Spiritual Intelligence at Work: Meaning, Metaphor and Morals, eds. Moses Pava and Patrick Primeaux (Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2004), 175 – 201.
- Boas Shamir, “Meaning, Self and Motivation in Organizations,” Organization Studies 12.3 (1991): 405–424.
- Edgar, The God Who Plays, 126.
- Michael Pratt and Blake Ashforth, “Fostering Meaningfulness in Working and At Work,” in Positive Organizational Scholarship, eds. Kim Cameron, Jane Dutton, and Robert Quinn (San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler, 2003), 309-327.
- 3Silja Hartmann, Matthias Weiss, Alexander Newman, and Martin Hoegl. “Resilience in the Workplace: A Multilevel Review and Synthesis,” Applied Psychology 69.3 (2020): 913–959.