‘Faith on the Job’ – striking a balance between faith and work


Special to The A.D. Times

“I’d like to think that I’m not the most boring person in the world, but I do enjoy the intellectual stimulation of drafting a very complex contract,” Attorney Joe Zator began in the first installment of the summer Theology on Tap series, “Faith on the Job: Maintaining Values in the Workplace.”

“Just today I was involved in a signing – we’re talking 200 pages of documentation – I get charged up and it’s hard to go to sleep. It’s fun for me and I love what I do.”

Zator, CEO and founder of Zator Law, led the June19 discussion at Allentown Brew Works, where approximately 40 young adults gathered to hear his insights on striking the balance between faith and work.

The summer “Faith on the Job” series was conceived as a response to the struggle many Catholic young adults face in secular careers – challenges ranging from finding time to pray in the midst of a hectic schedule, to feeling isolated among coworkers who do not share the same values, to encountering pressure to perform tasks incompatible with the teachings of the Catholic Church.

The goal was to invite Catholics who have achieved success in secular careers to share their stories of growing in faith and staying true to their beliefs in the workplace.

“Whatever you’re looking to do for the rest of your life needs to be something you enjoy. It needs to be something where you can be comfortable integrating your religious faith,” said Zator.

Zator described how each person is called to find and pursue their own niche in life, including choosing the field of work they are passionate about.

“I feel very fortunate that I’ve been able to walk that path in a way that has been true to my moral compass. I would never get involved in representing something that was diametrically opposed to a value that is important to me,” he said.

“Sometimes that means disappointing people who have a very different view of the world.”

He went on to explain the challenges associated with living out Christian morals in the legal system.

“The law can be a difficult thing when it comes to that moral compass, not just because of pressures of clients, but because of the nature of the system itself,” he explained.

“You have to zealously represent the interest of your client. Sometimes that forces you to embellish – not lie and not misrepresent the truth – but sometimes in an effort to win, some attorneys will cross that line.”

Zator related his law experience to the universal search for truth.

“As you peel back the onion layers it gets more pungent, and you get closer to what the onion really is. I think the same thing happens as you get closer to the truth, but you can only do that if you get the facts.”

He shared some of the principles that guide his law firm, most prominently integrity, dedication and trust.

“I try to do what I do by way of example and by my everyday living, how I lead my firm, how I communicate with clients, when I’m out in the public arena with government agencies, which I do on an almost daily basis,” he said.

“Even in a secular society, people will respect you if you act with integrity. They might disagree with you, but they will still respect the way you approach a situation, and that to me is a success.”

Zator spoke about the idea of reputation, and that we should not be quick to judge others based solely on what we may have heard about them.

“We live in a world with tremendous volumes of information. Each of you is exposed to more information in one day than someone in 1900 may have been exposed to in their entire lifetime. Sometimes sifting through what’s accurate is not always an easy thing, so don’t throw people under the bus if you don’t have the facts straight,” he said.

“Don’t focus on reputation. Focus on the facts.”

He shared a story about a time in law school during a mock trial where he had decided in his mind that a defendant was guilty.

“Someone else in the class spoke up and said, ‘I don’t see it that way.’ That taught me that there is always an opportunity for people to speak, to talk, to have a discourse that is out of something other than anger to learn the facts and the truth.”

Touching on the way he balances his prayer life with a 75-hour work week, Zator shared a personal memento. “My wife gave me a medal 20 years ago that said ASAP, which is a military term for ‘as soon as possible.’ But it also stands for ‘always say a prayer.’

“We all have tough times, I have tough times, but I try to look at those things as my way of connecting with the Lord, and that’s important for all of us to do.”

Zator concluded with a nod to the balance of all the important facets of a full life.

“To me the real success in life is all about balance, and there’s no single balance that’s perfect. We all have different arenas in our life – family, work, social, leisure, health – we can’t fit it all in, so it’s all about making choices about how to balance it,” he said.

“Never stop searching. Life is all about the journey, so enjoy that journey. I know I do.”

Next in the series

The remaining talks in the series “Faith on the Job: Maintaining Values in the Workplace” will be 7 p.m. at Allentown Brew Works:

Monday, July 17 – Deacon Hugh Carlin, former anesthesiologist at St. Luke’s Hospital.

Monday, Aug. 21 – Mike Guman, vice president of Oppenheimer Funds and former NFL player for Los Angeles Rams.

Theology on Tap is a monthly series sponsored by the diocesan Office of Youth, Young Adult and Family Ministry (OYYAFM). The series is designed to welcome all young adults, single or married, together in a casual setting where they can grow in the faith and share community with one another.

For more information, visit www.allentowndiocese.org/tot.