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Prayer and the Development of a Sense of Mission

man praying at nightA Reflection on Mark 1:35-39
In this recording we talk about a time when Jesus went off and prayed by himself in the earlier morning hours, while it was still dark, and emerged with a clearer, more powerful sense of mission. This passage might have some important insight for us on the relationship between prayer and the sense of mission we bring to our work.
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(Time 10:54)
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Video Archive: Michael Novak on Business as a Calling

Michael Novak Speaking on Business as a CallingIn April 2010, the Center for Faith and Enterprise brought scholar Michael Novak (1933-2017) to California for a speaking tour. We sponsored speaking events at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena (hosted by the Max De Pree Center for Leadership), Biola University in La Mirada, and La Canada Presbyterian Church in La Canada/Flintridge.
At La Canada Presbyterian, the subject was Business as a Calling. In this talk, Novak provided an update on his thinking fourteen years after the publication of his classic book by the same name.
Michael’s observations remain very insightful for today’s business environment.

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Video: Sam Alibrando on Working With Difficult People

Speaker on Working with Difficult PeopleOn June 18, the third Work Life Forum featured Dr. Sam Alibrando speaking on the subject “Working with Difficult People”. The event was held at La Canada Presbyterian Church in La Canada, California. The video of Dr. Alibrando’s presentation is now available.

The fulfillment, satisfaction, and enjoyment we find in our work are heavily dependent on the quality of our working relationships. There is very little in our work that can make us as miserable as a painfully difficult working relationship; the pain and stress of a bad working relationship can even bleed over into the rest of our life.

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Video: Scott Symington Speaks on Stress at Second Work Life Forum

Scott Symington speaking on stressAt our second Work Life Forum, 199 people heard Dr. Scott Symington preview his forthcoming new book Freedom from Anxious Thoughts and Feelings: A Two-Step Mindfulness Approach for Moving Beyond Fear and Worry. Dr. Symington discussed specific steps that can help us break free from our worries, address the challenges we face more effectively, and live more fully. Along the way presented a ground breaking new tool called the Two Screen Method.

The event video is available at the link.

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Noon Prayer Meetings and the Revival of 1857/58: The Workplace Connection

drawing of fulton street prayer meeting

The Fulton Street Prayer Meetings (A Case Study)

A powerful revival occurred in 1857 and 1858. Sometimes known as the
“Businessmen’s Revival” by its contemporaries, a distinctive aspect of the revival was the extraordinary popularity of noon prayer meetings organized and led by business people. These meetings built on the pattern established by the Fulton Street Prayer Meetings.

There are important lessons that can be drawn from this success of this movement and the manner in which the prayer meetings were organized.

This is an updated version of an earlier article.

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Video: Peter Hill Speaks on Humility


On October 30, 2018, Dr. Peter Hill spoke to our first Work Life Forum and presented the results of new research he and a multi-university team has developed about humility. A video of the event is now available;.

Humility is often misunderstood. It is not self-effacement or meekness, but involves having an accurate, ego-free assessment of ourselves, our abilities, and our limitations, and then being able to act accordingly. As such, humility can play an important role in how we deal with the stresses and conflicts in our work life. It can help us see and respond to circumstances more clearly and effectively, lower our stress levels, and improve our working relationships.

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Why Work? (Comments on Dorothy Sayers’ Famous Essay)

Old typewriter

A Response to a Classic Essay on Work

I reread Dorothy Sayers classic essay “Why Work?” last week.[1]Sayers made a compelling case that work should not be undertaken for the money it provides, but rather for the sake and enjoyment of the work itself. I find this idea personally appealing, but on reflection would like to take issue with Sayers on a couple of points.
The idea that we should work because we find it purposeful and fulfilling, and because it can be a full expression of our nature, is immensely appealing to many of us, and for good reason. And I certainly endorse the idea that moving in this direction can make our lives richer and more enjoyable, both for ourselves and for others. But I think Sayers overlooked a couple of critically important points.

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New Small Group Curriculum

Transforming Work book cover

Introducing Our New Small Group Guide

The Transforming Work: Spiritual Renewal in Our Work Lives study guide can help you think about the serious work issues you face and how your own faith or spirituality might help. It is designed for people who take their work seriously and would like their faith or spirituality to be an important resource that informs and supports them in their daily work. The guide can be used in small groups and for individual study.

The guide contains 12 sessions, each directed at a practical work issue. Each session includes an opportunity for prayer, a passage of scripture that might offer a new point of view on a serious work issue, commentary and questions designed to encourage reflection and discussion, and suggestions for the coming workweek. The appendix includes advice for new groups and new group leaders.

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Chronic Time Pressure

time pressure being experienced by womanWhen people talk about their more frustrating work-related problems, quite often the issue of time, or the lack of it, comes up. For many people, there is not enough time to get everything done and this can be a serious and chronic source of stress. It seems as though fixing this one problem might make a huge difference in many people’s lives and in their ability to enjoy their work and their leisure.

Professor of Psychology Alex Szollos has put forward a very insightful and I believe useful idea. He suggests that chronic time pressure, that feeling of always being short of time, should be seen as an overarching concept that incorporates two related but distinct elements: 1) an objective element, in other words, an actual shortage of time relative to the demands placed on the individual; and 2) a subjective element, in other words, the subjective experience of being harried and rushed pretty much all of the time.

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Work-Related Burnout

Photo of man facing burnout

Elijah in the Wilderness

After a prolonged struggle with King Ahab and the priests of Baal, the great prophet Elijah was completely exhausted. He journeyed by himself into the desert and asked God to take his life; he then lay down under a broom tree and fell asleep, awaiting death. Elijah’s friends and allies were gone, he had failed to save Israel, and he was too tired to go on.

But an angel sent by God awoke Elijah and gave him food and drink. After more rest, the angel brought Elijah to Mount Horeb to meet God in a cave.

After experiencing a great wind, a powerful earthquake, and a fire, Elijah encountered sheer silence within which he heard the voice of God sending him back out to fulfill his calling. And so Elijah, refreshed, returned with power to the world and did indeed fulfill his calling from God. (Adapted from 1 Kings 19)

From our vantage point, it is easy to see Elijah as an extreme case of work-related burnout. He was exhausted, he was without friends, and he felt like a failure. Burnout is a big problem; if we have not experienced it ourselves, we probably will at some point in the future and in any case we probably know somebody who is confronting burnout right now. But there are things that we can do.

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Norman Borlaug

Young green wheat growing in field.

And the Fight Against Famine.

This week we talk about the story of Norman Borlaug and his fight against famine. We also note some of the theological implications of Borlaug’s work.

Borlaug was a Nobel Prize winner who died in 2009. His work in the field of agriculture may very well have saved hundreds of millions of lives from famine. He and his teams accomplished this by developing new breeds of wheat and new agricultural methods in Mexico, Pakistan, India, and other countries, at a time when each of these countries faced the prospect of mass starvation. And they did so in the face of powerful political opposition.
(Time 10:54)
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Weathering Financial Crisis

Financial crisis discussed by Joseph and Pharaoh

Insights from the story of Joseph

In this episode we talk about financial crisis, and how our faith and our spirituality can help us prepare for and survive such crisis.

As we go through our lives most of us encounter financial ups and downs, sometimes very serious ones. This is true for both individuals and for societies. And in the interconnected world of today, the global economy as a whole can move through a series of economic expansions and contractions, sometimes leading to improved material well being, sometimes to hardship.

We will discuss the Biblical story of Joseph and the Pharaoh and how this might provide us with some important insights into how we can weather the storms.
(Time 8:47)
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Everyday Heroes

crowdThis week we talk about everyday heroes – – the people who show up for work every day, doing work they do not particularly like, in order to support others for whom they care.

We sometimes think of work done primarily for money as “just a job”, as though it has less importance than work done as a calling or even work done to further a career. But this is not fair.

It is important to think about not just the money but what the money means. There can be a tendency in some quarters to think of greed, a desire for material objects, or maybe a striving for social status. But in most cases, people are working for things that can have considerably more validity than the stereotypes might suggest. They might be working to create a better life for their children, move to a safer neighborhood, reduce the chronic anxiety of financial insecurity, or maybe just to put food on the table. All of these desires, and many others, are valid – – maybe even more valid than some of the so-called callings we sometimes hear about.

In this episode we tell the story of one of these everyday heroes — an amazing working mother who provided a better life for her children. (Time 8:14)
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Risk and Opportunity

Mountain

And the Call of Abraham.

Most of us encounter both risk and opportunity in our work lives – and sometimes a great deal of both. How we understand and respond to these can make a big difference in our work lives and in how we live.

This was true for Abraham many thousands of years ago when he willingly faced great risk, responded to a great opportunity, and did so in the belief that he was being called by God.

We need to look squarely at the reality of risk. It is present to some degree in each of our lives and attempting to deny it is likely to lead to a painful and unexpected awakening in the future. On the other hand, we also need to be alert to opportunity and not be dominated by our fears.

Our faith and spirituality can help. . .
(Time 8:08)
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