Some technologists are predicting that automation will displace human workers. It isn’t so much that machines are getting better than people, it’s that people aren’t finding and living their innate potential. It’s an attitude thing. Even employers of labor-intensive jobs say many prospective employees come into a job interview concerned more about the benefits they’ll get than the benefits they can bring to the job—which makes automation designed to deliver those benefits more attractive. A “digital architect” quoted by online news source “VentureBeat” predicted that machines will soon be better suited than humans for computation, data analysis and logic, but that humanity’s best hopes for delivering value lay in developing their emotional intelligence, empathy, compassion, creative judgment and discernment .

In other words, wisdom.

The purpose of job interviews is to spot wisdom amidst a sea of me’s (give me, pay me, promote me, etc.). This was a challenge even when King Solomon was being considered for a promotion. Sunday’s first reading (1 Kgs 3:5, 7-12) shows that God was the inventor of those trick open-ended interview challenges:

“Ask something of me and I will give it to you.”

Solomon’s response:

“I serve you in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a people so vast that it cannot be numbered or counted. Give your servant, therefore, an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong. For who is able to govern this vast people of yours?”

God’s reaction:

“Because you have asked for this—not for a long life for yourself, nor for riches, nor for the life of your enemies, but for understanding so that you may know what is right—I do as you requested. I give you a heart so wise and understanding that there has never been anyone like you up to now, and after you there will come no one to equal you.”

Judging by humanity’s continued hunger for wisdom on the job in all the years since, Solomon’s sandals are still hard to fill. That’s because the qualities that make up emotional intelligence are rooted in recognizing that each of us was created for a specific purpose. Life’s meaning is in finding and fulfilling that purpose.  That job’s search begins by each applicant acknowledging our Creator’s love. As Paul seems to tell the Romans in Sunday’s second reading (Rom 8:28-30), God still has many openings in his Kingdom:

We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.

That Son is every employer’s dream candidate, whether they believe in a God or not. As is said of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark, “He has done all things well” (Mark 7:37).  And in Sunday’s gospel reading from Matthew (Mt 13:44-52), Jesus offers an analogy that both job seekers and their potential employers can understand as they try to fulfill their purpose:

“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”

That treasure is wisdom, and it is within you. Own it.

–Tom Andel