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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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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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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Leisure and the Sabbath

Hammock in the Garden

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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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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Small Group Curriculum

Small Group Guide Cover

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.

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Carrying Too Much Stress?

Photo of stressed woman

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.

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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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