A Response to a Classic Essay on Work
I reread Dorothy Sayers classic essay “Why Work?” last week.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.
New Book! Sacred Rhythm: A Christian Spirituality For Our 21st Century Work Lives is now available.
Our spirituality can play an important role in our work lives. It encourages us to turn toward God and the divine mystery and then, perhaps inspired, return to our daily work with a new sense of purpose and a deepened desire to make a positive contribution to the greater good and the well-being of others.
This can have practical implications for our work. . .
Many people want to experience a deeper sense of purpose and fulfillment in their work; a church-based faith and work ministry can help them achieve this. It can help them develop a more profound sense of God’s presence as they go through their workweek, understand how their work can contribute to the well-being of others, and build community. Churches can also provide spiritual practices that can be integrated into the workday.
This is an opportunity for churches to provide an important service to working adults both inside and outside the church. (Free Reprint)
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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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 not too hard 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
We have postponed our plans for a series of retreats to 2021, in light of the covid-19 crisis. While we do not know what the future holds, our best guess is that it will be fully safe to begin again in January, 2021, and therefore have set aside dates for three retreats, each designed to help us connect spiritual practices with our work-lives.
Sign up to receive more information as we firm up our plans later in the year.read more
Deepen Your Spiritual Engagement As We Wait For Pentecost
Pentecost is one of the most important events of the Christian calendar and is only a few days away.
As we head towards Pentecost on May 31, we can spend time each day waiting and praying, like the Apostles. And then we can head back into the world, perhaps inspired with renewed hope and a deeper sense of mission as we return to our work.This year, we are offering a recorded reflection as a way to help you prepare for Pentecost. Also available is a guide that comes with a transcript and scripture citations.
Holy Week is a time of high drama as Jesus heads into the final confrontation. The tension builds day by day until it ends in Jesus’ death and resurrection.
This year we are offering a daily series of recorded reflections that help us engage the narrative of Holy Week by following Jesus day by day. This journey will take us through the very dark times of his trial, torture, and death, and on to his resurrection on Easter Sunday. We will add one recording each day.read more
A 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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In 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.
On 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.read more
At 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.read more
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.read more
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.read more
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.read more