Recently I spent several hours with a learning cohort of 40 people from all over America, listening to a few good people reflect on their different vocations. I was asking the questions for us all, and could have asked more.
Thoughtful, honest, practiced, each offered windows into their lives and labors. One more time, the essay, “Vocation Needs No Justification,” was on the tables as we entered. The story of David Kiersznowski, the CEO of the Demdaco Corporation, it sets forth the argument that we are called to good work in the world, and that good work does not need to be “justified,” in various ways explaining that “I’m just a businessman…. Sorry that I don’t do something more meaningful.” For thousands of reasons we are disposed to think in more fragmented ways, imagining that bifurcation is our best possibility, that dualism is the way it must be.
Mostly we don’t have eyes to see more seamlessly. But it is that task that is the heart of our learning cohort, which is why we keep working to understand the vision that vocation is integral, not incidental, to the missio Dei.
David is like that, in his own proximate way. But he teaches me, watching him as I do, listening to him as I do. I see his deepest beliefs about reality being woven into his life, especially being woven into his vision for the way business ought to be, for the way that business can be. Words have to become flesh for us to understand them; we simply do not understand ideas until we see that they can have legs. So as I learn from David, I see more clearly what vocations in the marketplace are supposed to be—even in this very now-but-not-world.
When he brought his company’s new headquarters in Kansas City into being, David commissioned another good friend to both of us, Mako Fujimura, to create an artful welcome, a beautiful, allusive painting that tells the story that makes sense of all the stories—from the world that was, to the world that is, all the way through to the world that someday will be.
Yes…. further up and further in.