I had the great honour of studying part of the Hebrew Texts under a rabbi at VST. Rabbi Dr. Robert Daum, now with UBC, is an amazing teacher and was loved and respected by everyone during his time at VST. Robert pointed out that the first question posed by God to humankind after the first humans tasted the "forbidden fruit" characterizes in a fundamental way the relationship between God and humankind.

Roberts says the question consists of a single word in Hebrew, although (not surprisingly!) it requires three words in English translation. The question is "Where are you?" or, in Hebrew, Ayeka? [Genesis 3:9] It is a question posed to us by the One who sees who we are, and what we are-our very being.

Where are you? I think it a very powerful question for our work lives. Variations for the workplace include these questions: Where are you in your career and other life choices? Where are you in relationships with employees, colleagues, and customers? Where are you in your decisions about sustainability for yourself, your organization and your community?

I have found in working with boards and executives that answering these kinds of questions often leads to finding the organization's "deeper purpose" (to borrow a phrase from the work of Ron Heifetz, a senior lecturer in public leadership at Harvard University). This deeper purpose is not only what the organization is doing, but also why it is doing it?

What greater good is coming out of the organization's work? Finding the deeper purpose of an organization can inspire and build relationships. It can strengthen commitment for all concerned.

One board, for example, had been frustrated with what was becoming a revolving door in the CEO's office. By getting clear on "where are you", they came to be able to articulate "why we are here," for their organization. Once the board members were all clear on that, they were better able to identify the right person for the CEO position and launched a very successful search.

Robert's comments also raised important questions about our life/work balance. As you head out for the third or fourth evening meeting of the week, where are you in your relationship with your life partner, with your children? I am still wrestling with this one myself, as I'm sure many of us are in leadership positions.

I have found it helpful to look at my calendar as a whole week, and not just a series of days, and then ask, "where am I" in that week? How much time am I at home, in relationship with family and loved ones and how much time am I working? My wife would suggest I need to get far better at this, and she is right. And so the question, as Robert says, continues to be unanswered fully.

"Where are you? Ayeka?"

If you have questions, comments or stories about faith, work, money and or business ethics, I'd love to hear from you. Please email me at deacon@cathedral.vancouver.bc.ca