Advent as a Time of Spiritual Renewal
Advent can be a time of spiritual renewal. And in our work lives it can be a time for cultivating a spirit of wisdom and understanding.
The great prophet we know as Isaiah had something to say about this. Accordingly, we start by taking a look at a biblical passage from the book of Isaiah:
A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. (Isaiah 11:1-2, NRSV)
The prophet probably spoke these words, or something like them, during the eighth century BC, about 2800 years ago. Things were not going well for the people of the time. They had had a long succession of corrupt kings. Public morals had declined. Cheating in business transactions, and the use of unfair scales, was taking place in the market. There was also bias in the judicial system, a bias which favored the friends of the officials and took advantage of the poor and others. And at the time of the passage, there was also particular concern about domination by foreign powers.
The great prophets like Isaiah railed against the corruption. But they also offered a message of hope, a message that helped the people maintain hope in the face of troubles.
In this passage, the prophet is expressing the hope that a leader with these characteristics will emerge, a leader in the tradition of David (son of Jesse). This was a frequently expressed hope of the prophets – – but unfortunately it was often frustrated, as one king after another let the people down.
This seems to be the common human experience – we hope for a great leader who will set things right, but it usually does not seem to work out this way.
Instead of hoping for a great leader who will solve our problems, maybe real redemption is to be found elsewhere. Rather than hoping for someone else to solve the problem, maybe each of us should think of ourselves as potentially being that leader, or at least as fulfilling something of that role. Rather than waiting for others to take charge, maybe each of us need to be agents of redemption, at least within our own spheres of influence.
The example of Jesus can help us in this. We can think of his examples of loving God, loving our neighbor, and acting with courage, humility, and love for fellow humans.
Imagine how our work lives, our working environments, and our organizations might change if we ourselves acted with a greater spirit of understanding and wisdom, and fulfilled something of the role envisioned by Isaiah. We might not be able to change the world, but each of us has a certain circle of influence upon which we can have a positive impact, if we are able to act with the spirit of which we are talking.
And so how might we cultivate a spirit of wisdom and understanding?
About the Faith and Enterprise Podcast
Each new podcast episode deals with Spiritual Renewal in Our Work Lives. Topics include finding purpose/work as a calling, spiritual practices that can help us in our work, dealing with workplace stress and other forms of workplace toxicity, spiritual aspects of leadership, and building a flourishing work life. We invite you to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play, or listen on our website. You can also subscribe to email updates when we release new material.