Join us as we explore ways to seek spiritual renewal in our work lives. We cover topics such as spiritual practices for the workplace, finding purpose in our work, dealing with workplace stress and other forms of workplace toxicity, spiritual aspects of leadership, and others. We hope you will join with us in this quest!

Two Competing Visions of the Future: Freedom and Dignity in Genesis 1 vs. The Babylonian Captivity

Mosaic of lion in Babylon

A Story of Hope, Freedom, and the Possibility of Human Flourishing.

The creation story found at the beginning of the Bible, Genesis 1, had special meaning for the people of Israel during the period known as the Babylonian captivity.

In the years leading up to 587 BCE Jerusalem, it’s Temple, and several other cities were conquered and destroyed by the Babylonian Empire. Many of the people were taken into captivity in Babylon and held there for more than 50 years, longer than a typical lifetime.

One of the things the Babylonians did to maintain their dominance was to bring people together periodically to hear the Babylonian story of creation, the Enuma Elish. This was an awful story that was an attempt to justify the oppression of the captive people by the Babylonians.

But the captives had another story — the creation story of Genesis 1. This was a much different story, one that involved freedom, human dignity, the goodness of creation, and the possibility of living a flourishing life. And this story was about the true God.

In the story from Genesis 1, God creates humans in his own image, blesses them, and tells them to be fruitful, fill the earth, and have dominion over it. In other words, we are to be creative and productive, and to flourish. It would be understandable if the captives in Babylon heard this story as a message of hope and a sign that their oppression would not last.

This optimistic view of Genesis 1 sometimes seems to be inconsistent with what we see in the world and in history. It sometimes even seems like the life we saw in Babylon has not ended for some people. We continue to see brokenness, sin, and oppression. And we all have plenty of problems in our work lives as well. We have good times, of course, times when the human spirit seems to emerge from its enslavement. But the forces that would enslave us can reemerge as well.

Like the captives in Babylon, we need to remember the underlying story and take it to heart. And that is the topic of this episode.(Time 12:18)
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Gratitude

Grateful woman holding coffee cup outdoorsCultivating a sense of gratitude can have important benefits for ourselves and for the people with whom we work. It is an important and beneficial quality, but few of us think much about it, and even fewer of us work at cultivating it.

Whether we are going through good times or bad times, if we can cultivate more gratitude we will tend to be happier, have more resilience, and be better able to form personal relationships and to help others. Gratitude helps us to be more open and appreciative of life and of other people.

This has obvious implications for personal well-being. But it also has important implications for our work life.

On this episode we will discuss the nature and benefits of gratitude, reasons why we sometimes resist feeling grateful, and how we might cultivate it.
(Time 8:09)
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The Story of King Solomon

Solomon

Wisdom, failure, and the lessons for our work lives.

Solomon was one of the greatest kings in the Bible, perhaps second only to King David. He accomplished great things and had a reputation for having great wisdom.

But there is another side to the story, one involving the misuse of power and the resulting disaster. In this episode we will explore this story and draw insights that can help us in our work lives.(Time 10:33)
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Working With Courage

Courageously sailing boat in storm

Moving beyond mere coping.

Many of us encounter anxiety, stress and even fear in the workplace. There is a large amount of literature devoted to ways to cope with these problems; but instead of just coping, as though we are mere victims, what if we were able to move forward into the future with more courage? What if we could live more fully, with more vitality, in the face of what would otherwise be burdensome fears? Is it possible to develop more courage in our work?
In this episode we draw on insights from both positive psychology and the Bible in an attempt to learn how we might take steps towards developing the habit of living and working more courageously. (Time 9:46)
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Dealing with Toxic Relationships at Work

Man praying about workplace toxicity

The Role of Sin, Alienation, and Reconciliation.

The word “toxic” has taken on special meaning when applied to the workplace. When we hear someone speak of toxic bosses, toxic coworkers, or toxic working environments, we usually have a pretty good idea of the character of the relationships to which they are referring. We might not know the details, but we certainly know that something has gone wrong.

Most workplaces are not usually toxic, nor are most working relationships — in fact, quite the opposite. But most of us do run across workplace toxicity from time to time, and when we do it usually has a way of spoiling the fulfillment and satisfaction we might hope to find in our work.

Our goal should be to restore relationships, build community, and remove the dysfunction so that our work can be more effective, more fulfilling, and more beneficial for ourselves and for others.(Time: 11:10)
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Work As Service To Others

Waiter servingThere are great many products and services, and a great many jobs, that are needed to build and maintain a flourishing society: those who produce food and other goods, distributors and retailers, communicators of various kinds, accountants, lawyers, and administrators, and many, many others.

And here we have a problem – – a problem of perception. The contribution of the people doing many of these jobs goes unappreciated, at least in religious contexts.(Time: 9:01)
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The Power of Humility

Humble man in churchHumility, properly understood, can make an important contribution to our spiritual and psychological flourishing, and can have very important benefits for our work life.

It is helpful to think of humility as having to do with a reduced focus on one’s own self. The person with humility is less concerned with maintaining a high degree of self-importance, or high social status, and is therefore more open to information and insights from others, whether it supports his or her own viewpoint or not. This can be very important in our work life.

If we are more open to information that has not been filtered through our own ego needs, we are more likely see things as they really are and to act with wisdom. We are also more likely appreciate other people, and the contribution they make; this is bound to lead to stronger relationships, greater collaboration, and more effective leadership.
(Time: 9:01)
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The Ups and Downs of Following a Calling

Finding your calling: Tom King interview photo.In this special edition we interview solar energy professional Tom King. Tom has a very interesting story to tell about finding and following a calling, and the ups and downs this can involve. Along the way he has worked in a variety of fields — coaching college sports, construction, information technology, a small food start up, produce distribution, and now solar energy. Tom has picked up several important insights which he shares with us.

This is our first interview; let us know if you like the format and we will do more.
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Liberate the Human Spirit!

Photo of smiling business womanHave you ever worked in an environment that seemed to be designed to crush the human spirit? To eliminate any sort of initiative or creativity?
Maybe you have also seen working environments that seem to liberate the human spirit, workplaces where people seem to be more alive, more purposeful, more engaged — and also happier.
This raises the question: how might we encourage more of the latter? How might we create environments that liberate the human spirit rather than suppress it?
We discuss this important question in an article that you can find here. We also offer a related podcast episode you can find below.
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Building Collaboration and Collaborative Relationships: The Role of Personal Values

Woman on phone
Collaboration and collaborative relationships are often the key to success in business and most other professions.  These relationships are in turn heavily dependent on the values we bring to our work — values like honesty, compassion, humility, transparency, patience, and courage. These values are also the ones usually taught by the church and most other religious institutions. In this episode we talk about these values, and why collaboration is so important to the production of value in business, properly understood. (Time: 9:08)
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The Quest for the Sacred: The Story of King Herod and the Wise Men

Photo of Wise Men sculptureThe story of the wise men – – also known as the Magi – – is one of the great stories of the Bible. The late James Dittes of Yale saw in the story a battle between two conflicting aspects of our human nature, a drive for stability and control, and a drive to forsake stability and control in order to pursue a quest for the sacred. In the story, the desire for stability and control is represented by Herod and the quest for the sacred is represented by the wise men.
Both are necessary and contribute to human flourishing.
The drive for stability, in its uncorrupted form, is important to us. It provides the foundation for the coherence that helps us make sense of daily life. It enables us to make decisions regarding our work, our family, and other areas of our lives. Too much turmoil makes it almost impossible to make clear decisions and to build effectively for the future.
But the quest is important too. What I am calling the quest has to do with our search for the sacred, for transcendence, for meaning. We can think of the quest as the natural outgrowth of the intuitive human desire to connect with something deeper than ourselves – to experience a deeper sense of connection with God. It is as though over the course of our lives we are being drawn to God.
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Can Your Work Be Your Calling?

Photo of man working

Finding Purpose

No matter what we see as the primary purpose of our work, it is clear that if we can find more meaning in it, then we are likely to be more effective, more purposeful, and happier. For some people, this means seeing their work as their calling.

In this episode we talk about what it means to have a calling, and how we might develop or find it. While people have used several very different definitions, we will focus on what we see as its key aspects.
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(Time: 11:59)

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Going Backwards

Photo of depressed manMost of us have had times when we seem to be going backwards in our career or in our work life. Or maybe times when we seemed to be dead in the water while everyone else was moving forward.
But in these situations are we really moving backwards? Or might there be something going on, out of sight – – something that is laying the foundation for new growth – – something of which we might be completely unaware?
There is hope.
We might not be able to change our objective circumstances, at least in the short run, but we can control our response. . .
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The Examen: A Practice for Becoming Spiritually Alert

Photo of man looking out window.There are spiritual practices that might help us become alert to the spiritual aspects of our daily lives; one especially powerful one is called the Examen.

The Examen was developed by Ignatius of Loyola about 500 years ago. He developed as a way of knowing when we seem to be moving towards God, and when we seem to be moving away from God. The practice involves looking at our recent life (perhaps the most recent day or half day) in considerable detail, and being alert to spiritual clues. Join us as we discuss how this practice might be helpful to us today.
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Work Related Stress Part 1: Can Faith and Spirituality Help?

Photo of sleepless man with stressWork related stress is a big problem. We all know how painful and dysfunctional it can be. It can damage our health and limit our effectiveness. But there are some things we can do.

In this episode, we will begin by focusing on the work of psychologist Richard Lazarus and the importance of how we appraise potentially stressful situations.
We also draw out possible spiritual and religious connections. (Time: 13:23)

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