Let me begin by clarifying – I don’t mean drink like it’s your job. Unless of course, you’re a sommelier.
The past two years, I have published posts about the relationship between our faith and drinking. I still get some interesting questions and discussions about the topic. If you haven’t, I recommend reading Drink like a Catholic and Drink like a Catholic (at a bar) for better context for this conversation.
Austin is a cosmopolitan city where it’s common to mix drinks with work. As common as it has become, there is still a learning curve for designating lines of appropriateness and professionalism. I would like to continue this conversation with a focus for this area.
Drinks After Work
“In Catholicism, the pint, the pipe and the Cross can all fit together.”
– GK Chesterton
Drinks after work is as old fashioned as professionalism. Although, there’s a big difference in opening up a brew at home instead of walking to happy hour down the road. Even if you don’t go there with people from the office, it’s important to remember that they could show up there too.
It’s always surprising how small the world can be, especially when you narrow it down to your field of expertise. As Christians, we should always be aware that our life is a witness to our neighbors, but as professionals, we have to also be conscience of the professional reputation that we build on and off the clock.
With moderation, a margarita could also be a conduit for great conversation at your next after-hours networking event. It’s also important to remember that drinks aren’t necessary, so it’s fine to turn them down.
Drinks with Coworkers
Sometimes the best drinking companions are friends from the office. It’s incredible how conversations over an ale can bring new meaning to breaking bread. It can also have surprisingly similar effects to a shared meal with your teammates.
With temperance, libations can be a very effective social lubricant. In fact, I found these time to be some of the best primers to speak directly to hearts that were unknowingly seeking Jesus. I’m not advocating proselytizing at the bar, because that will never work. Building connections with coworkers is the first step in walking with someone in faith. It’s amazing how a Cuba Libre can bring a freedom to speak about the important issues in life.
Drinking at work
This might seem strange to some, but drinking on the clock and even in the office is becoming more common in tech cities in Austin. In particular, agencies and startups have influenced the rise of the office drinking culture.
Christianity aside, there is plenty to be cautious about drinking at work. The rise of office drinking requires maturity and self-control, and anyone that doesn’t take it seriously will eventually lose their job.
“Drink because you are happy, but never because you are miserable. Never drink when you are wretched without it, or you will be like the grey-faced gin-drinker in the slum; but drink when you would be happy without it, and you will be like the laughing peasant of Italy. Never drink because you need it, for this is rational drinking, and the way to death and hell. But drink because you do not need it, for this is irrational drinking, and the ancient health of the world.”
7 Tips for Drinking Like a Catholic Professional
1. Don’t forget that a work happy hour isn’t like party at your friend’s house
This may seem obvious, but a change in environment or location doesn’t mean people won’t notice your behavior.
2. Free drinks don’t make it a race
Pace yourself, be sure to have food in your stomach, and learn to appreciate sips of your drinks. Most importantly, be grateful that you live in a place where your job or even provides drinks.
3. Always remember that it’s not a requirement to drink
There are times when the social pressure of the office culture feels like drinking is a requirement, but everyone always has the freedom to turn it down without losing their job. If you notice that someone isn’t drinking, then it’s best to not even bring attention to it. You never know why they chose not to drink. They could be working on sobering up an addiction or trying to get pregnant. Either way, it’s safe not to address it unless they bring it up.
4. Participate when you can, even if you chose not to drink
Casual environments are some the most valuable face time that you have to grow your career. Order a virgin cocktail or a soda and enjoy your time. As an additional plus, staying fully sober can be incredibly valuable for helping friends get home if they’ve had too much.
5. Know when to stop
No matter where you fall relative to your companions or even your boss, hold strong to your conviction of when you should stop. To maintain professionalism, this should be even more temperate than a night with friends.
Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do.
6. Don’t judge others
We’re all broken and have our own failures. It’s possible that the new guy at the office of even a long time director had a few too many. Unfortunately, some people may get caught up in the emotion of the moment and forget where they are, but it won’t help to hold it against them. At the same time, do what you possibly can to help.
7. Developing virtue helps to have more fun
As mentioned in the previous posts, virtue is what will ensure that you make the best decisions. The more you develop and practice virtue, the less you have to worry about it, and the more you can intuitively hear the still small voice to counter vice and sin. Keep yourself in check and recognize when you’re not in control or in a good situation and don’t hesitate to take the appropriate action. Never forget that if you fall, the love and mercy of Jesus is ready to heal you in the sacrament of reconciliation. Making it regular will be one of the most effective ways to build virtue and holier habits.
“Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do.”