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An Interview with Dr. Stephen Payne on “Leadership and Spirituality: Transforming the Workplace” Part 2 of 3

April 16, 2009

BJM: So this “God in the Workplace” concept is more than just proselytizing at work about my faith, right?  I think that’s what a lot of people, especially Christians, think of when they talk about mixing their spirituality and work. They think it means I need to go out and convert my fellow employees over to Team Jesus. 

SP: Definitely, no proselytizing. Not that I don’t support Team Jesus, but nothing turns people off to the idea of tapping into the power of God in the workplace more than being told that they are not on the right spiritual train, and that you have all the answers for them. The workplace is not a stomping grounds for militant evangelism. It is, instead, a community of unique people who are all made in the image of God, who are together working creatively to accomplish something that should enable the greatest good for us, our organizations, and for those that depend on our organizations, like customers. 

Glad to hear it. Evangelism can be so fake and corny, especially when people are trying too hard. That makes more sense to me – that God will be revealed through our work rather than through me forcing Jesus down everyone’s throat.

No, this approach is more about revealing God’s spirit for everyone, no matter your faith, creed, or country.

Back to the framework idea, can you give us an example of one of the tools that might help a manager tap into the God’s Spirit at work?

Gladly. Take that point I just made about enabling the greatest good. I think it’s important that every person in the workplace should know his or her spiritual enablers. For Christians these are the practical things that generate a greater sense of Holy Spirit connectedness as you go about your work. As I just said earlier these things are unique to each individual. In my case there are some practical activities, like writing a report or making a speech, or some relationships, like certain of my clients, that imbue my deeper spiritual state with a powerful sense of balance, or equilibrium. My Holy Spirit connectedness is so strong that when I operate from that place, my entire work experience is far more productive. Like swimming downstream rather than struggling against the current. Do you agree?

Sure, I guess there are some things that make me feel more connected to God. My writing really does it for me. So does mentoring other guys, helping them to navigate their careers at my company, or like when I’m investing in people to help them in their jobs. Also, when I am working the “big ideas” with the exec team. I really feel God’s Spirit working through me during those times. Plus it’s usually what I’m good at anyway.

Notice that I didn’t refer to the things that I do in church. These things, like praying, taking communion, worshipping as a community, or singing praise songs, certainly improve my Holy Spirit connectedness on Sunday, but they either don’t work for me or are not available at my job. Whoops, that’s not entirely true, prayer works really well for me in my coaching work.

Well, Yeah, you could play something on your ipod and sing along, too and have a praise and worship experience.  Maybe not right at your desk, though. That wouldn’t be right. Unless you were a really good singer.

The key thing is this: When I know what my unique spiritual enablers are, I can use them at work to stay connected and productive. Why would God want us to be anywhere else? The trouble is that the workplace, unlike church, is just loaded with things that trigger the opposite.

That’s why they call it “WORK,” right? There are not a lot of built-in mechanisms at work for spiritual nourishment. And sometimes the stress, the deadlines, the crazy boss or difficult customer, the inept team members, they can do exactly the opposite of revealing God’s spirit. So are the people at your seminar going to figure out their unique workplace enablers?

Yes indeed. And much more…like the opposite of enablers, what you just talked about are what I call the spiritual derailers. Those are the unique things that have the negative effect. My derailers are people stealing my ideas – they’re all God’s ideas really – and people trashing my efforts when I’m not around to defend myself.

Uh, yeah. I hate that. Why do people keep doing that? And I’m supposed to do what in that case?

Remember Brad, we agreed that God is already in the workplace waiting to be revealed for the greatest good. By being aware of your spiritual derailers, you can more quickly look to God’s spirit to help you change the course of things, rather than sinking into all those negative, destructive influences. It may very well put you on another spirit-led path altogether, and then, who knows what God might do?

Yes, I’ve seen the difference myself, when I don’t give in to the negativity and destructive thoughts. It’s not always easy, but in the end I know it’s right, and it does lead to more positive and productive results.

All these things are practical ideas that should work for you.

To be continued…

One Comment leave one →
  1. April 16, 2009 9:41 pm

    oh the workplace…i remember how it was when i worked at tektronix. i was an illustrator there. the more time that passed, the more crazy the time frame got to accomplish a a job because of all the different kinds of competition that business continued to bring. it changed a lot over the years i was working there.

    we could come up with a lot of interesting and positive reasons for living our faith in our whole life. and they would sound right.

    i am amazed when i think of how little we really know about what God does in and through us and how it happens.

    i like that you are bringing this idea to people to think about. just encouraing others to do this can change some people’s idea of their life with God. communication with God in more parts of a life can bring on some changes within that person, their lives, and the lives of many that they come in contact with.

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