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.read more
The Gift of Rest and Renewal.
Most of us know that we could benefit from periodically taking time off from our work and responsibilities, and enjoying a time of rest and renewal. But that does not make it easy to do.
The Biblical idea of the Sabbath, of taking one day of rest each week, can be a great gift to us – a day of rest and refreshment, a day when we can recharge and replenish, a day that might even lead us into the rhythm of a richer, fuller life.
We should see it as a gift, not as a set of rules and obligations.
If we can take some time off each week, and really let go of our work and our obligations, we will find that the Sabbath is a great gift to us, and that it can help us move towards a richer, fuller, less stressful life.(Time 9:11)
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Writing in the Harvard Business Review Online (The Busier You Are, the More You Need Silence), Justin Talbot-Zorn and Leigh Marz lay out the arguments for why busy people need more quiet time.
According to the authors, research shows that “taking the time for silence restores the nervous system, helps sustain energy, and conditions our minds to be more adaptive and responsive to the complex environments in which so many of us live, work and lead.” They provide selected references from both neuroscience and psychology.
They make a number of concrete recommendations involving ways to build more quiet time into our busy lives. These range from five minutes of meditation and reflection during the work day to longer quiet periods such as an afternoon spent in nature or a weekend meditation retreat.
In this article, Talbot-Zorn and Marz focus exclusively on the secular benefits of intentional silence, not the religious and spiritual. This is understandable given that they are writing for a general business audience; I might do the same.
But I think this exclusively secular approach leaves out an important aspect of intentional silence — the spiritual experience it sometimes evokes. . .read more
Preview Small Group Discussion Guide
Transforming Work: Spiritual Renewal for Your Work Life is now available as a preview. Our small group discussion guide is designed to help people connect their faith or spirituality and their work, and to help them find ways to deal with work related issues. Each session includes a passage of scripture, a short commentary, and questions for discussion.
While it is formatted for use by small groups, it can also be used for individual study and reflection.
Our plan is to offer it for free as a digital download for thirty days and then, after receiving your feedback, offer it for sale. if you would like to download it for free, please visit our Transforming Work page and we will be happy to send you a link.read more
Maybe your body can help.
There’s a lot of talk about spiritual practices, especially prayer and meditation, that can help us deal with stress.
But there’s another approach that might help — connecting with our bodies.
In a recent Harvard Business Review article, Leah Weiss of the Stanford Graduate School of Business and Hope Lab, recommends some things to help us become anchored in our bodies, as a way of dealing with work related stress. She recommends things like paying attention to a single intentional breath, noting our physical response to stressful situations, and magnifying small, physical pleasures — like the first sip of coffee.
There’s more and the article can be found here.read more
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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The season of Advent can be the busiest, most stressful time of year. But it can also be a time of profound spiritual renewal if we are able to adopt an attitude of waiting and preparation.
In this Advent edition of the Faith and Enterprise Podcast, we discuss the benefits of finding a few minutes a day for prayer, meditation, and reflection. We also offer a few thoughts on how it might be possible to do so despite busyness of the season. (Time:8:39)read more
This is a very busy time of year for many of us — maybe the busiest. But Advent should also be a time of waiting, reflection, and spiritual renewal.
To help you wait and reflect, we will offer again this year a series of weekly recorded meditations. Each one is designed to provide a starting point for your own meditation. Each contains a passage of scripture, two or three questions for reflection, and some peaceful background music.
This week’s reflection, A Message of Hope During a Time of Trouble, is based on Isaiah 61:1-4read more
Most if us are familiar with the expression being in the zone, and in fact most have probably experienced it at some point. Psychologists usually refer to it as being in a state of flow. It is usually thought of as involving a higher level of alertness, concentration, and maybe skill. Most also remember it as a very positive experience.
The state of flow is not often thought of as spiritual but there is a possible relationship that is worth exploring, and in any case the concept has a lot to say about human flourishing and growth.read more
Workplace stress is a common problem with important consequences for both our health and our effectiveness. A spiritual practice known as the prayer mantra can help us calm down, place our problems in a more realistic perspective, and act with greater strength, insight, and resilience. It can also help us stay on track at other times. (Time: 6:52)
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