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Princeton Seminar to Discuss the Impact of Spirituality on the Workplace

March 3, 2009

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I had been invited to speak at an event at Princeton Theological Seminary discussing the relationship between spirituality and business leadership. The dates have been changed. It is now scheduled for May 31 – June 1. Here is an updated post on that event. Hope to see you there!

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What does your spiritual life have to do with your on-the-job leadership effectiveness? According to the Princeton Theological Seminary, the answer is, well, everything.

On May 31 and June 1, Princeton Theological Seminary will hold a first-time seminar event addressing the dynamics of spirituality and leadership in the workplace. It is called “Leadership and Spirituality: Transforming the Workplace,and it is designed to be an interactive seminar that brings business leaders together with clergy to collaborate on the impact and influence that their spiritual life brings to their jobs as leaders.

The premise of this event is rather unusual. It says that our daily work is God’s calling – an empowering opportunity for us to learn more on our journey of knowing and showing greater love. I can hear it now, the cognitive dissonance ringing in the heads of executives around the world: “What? My job is part of God’s calling? To show love?”  This preposterous perspective may cause some to dismiss the whole thing outright. On the other hand, it may cause others to start thinking very differently about the very purpose of their work, and the potential impact they can have for good. Remember, your job is the place where you will spend the vast majority of your time and attention during the prime of your life. Why shouldn’t God have something to do with it? If one believes that God’s Spirit is all-knowing and ever-present, then, well, isn’t He there at your job anyway?  In that case, the real issue becomes tapping into God’s Spirit while we are there, and revealing it for the highest and greatest good that for all concerned in achieving our organization’s purpose.

That sounds nice, however, what you are more likely to hear from managers today are complaints that the pressures from the workplace are pulling them in precisely the opposite direction – away from a positive, loving, and fulfilling expression of God’s greater good. Many say that they feel their work life is a downward spiral draining them of faith, self-confidence, trust and creativity. Princeton Theological Seminary decided it’s about time clergy and laity come together to figure out how to reverse this trend.

The timing of this event is critical, as evidenced by the many stories dominating today’s headlines of arrogance, greed and moral apathy connected to CEO behavior, as well as the economic uncertainty that shrouds our collective outlook on business. “Our clergy must be able to understand and support the leaders in our secular business communities today more than ever.” says Reverend Raymond Bromwell, Director of Princeton Theological Seminary’s Erdman Center for Continuing Education. 

The mastermind behind the program is Dr. Stephen Payne, a former CEO and long-time international executive leadership coach. According to Dr. Payne, “There is no doubt that the world is calling out for a higher level of accountability and transparency from CEOs, executives and managers, not to mention senior clergy. This seminar will help business leaders discover new ways to enhance their organization’s integrity, stewardship, and moral character.”  Dr. Payne’s ultimate goal? To help the leaders generate the greatest good within themselves, as well as for their organization. Now, that is an idea that is nothing less than revolutionary.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 3, 2009 3:05 pm

    i can relate to this, even though i am not a ceo or a leader in a company. i wonder, and hope to see, just how this life of belonging to God and being led by the Holy Spirit creates the changes in my heart and the way i think about what i do and why i do it in all aspects of my earthly life.

    some of the aspects, for instance, relationship with family, doing or not doing artwork, housework, the invisible walls that i or others have created that i have held onto, what is important.

    i sense that it mainly comes down to giving and receiving the Love of God.

    this is hard to put into words “showing Love to others”.

    it seems to involve a different kind of sacrifice, and a different kind of gain, than what most of us are use to acknowledging.

  2. donkimrey permalink
    March 4, 2009 11:22 pm

    Bradley: I admire you for accepting such a challenge. Of course, I’ll be praying for you and wish I could be present. After reading your post, I went searching for a quotation by Willaim Carey, shoe cobbler turned missionary. Here’s what I found in a message by an old minister from Birmingham, England: William Carey, “the father of modem missions,” was once asked what his business was. He replied: “My business is preaching the gospel, and I cobble shoes to pay expenses!”

    “There is no distinction made, in the New Testament, between so-called “clergy” and “laity.” Every Christian is viewed as “a minister,” which simply means “servant.” The terms “clergy” and “laity,” are absolutely foreign to New Testament language, which knows nothing of either! ” Stay close to Christ!

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