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Exercise, Plan, Pray

April 25, 2010

Like everyone else, I receive my share of unwelcomed content each day in the email inbox.

The digital noise come from all sorts of places: executive education programs, software companies, travel services, consultants, that sort of thing. Everyone wants a piece of me. 

I usually scan and delete very quickly, because you can tell in the subject line how irrelevant and boring the pitch will be: “Webinar: KPI’s for Customers!” “Last Day to Save $300 on Middle Market Lender’s Panel!” And the ever-crafty, “Did You Get My Email?” 

So you can imagine my surprise last week when I stumbled upon a random email blast that, upon closer examination, was actually encouraging managers to pray. 

A spiritually stimulating email message about business? Could it be true?

The subject line said,  “Your Career Emergency Preparedness Plan.” Smart, since this is a subject of keen interest to most of us these days. So I opened the message and scanned the content that appeared before me from Barton Career Advisors, a career transitions firm. It was an invitation to register for a webinar, and it had a little article to go with it.  

The article was written by Mr. Chris Barton himself, and it was a cute play on the emergency preparedness and disaster recovery plans so many of us on Board Audit and Technology committees are forcing our companies to do.  If we plan so hard for assets, Mr. Barton argues, why not plan equally for our careers?

His advice came down to this: In order to prepare for a career emergency, follow these simple rules every day: “Exercise, Plan, Pray.”  

That’s right, he’s telling people to pray. Right there in the middle of their office email inbox.

The “Exercise” and the “Plan” part were common enough as far as standard coaching advice to business professionals goes. But Pray? This was unusual, to encourage spiritual activity among corporate leaders, as if it was just another management trick up the sleeve. Barton handles this potentially controversial recommendation with great aplomb:

I would tell anyone who asked me on a personal level about the importance of prayer that it is a powerful cornerstone in our preparedness planning. When all else fails, meditative reflection enables a fountain of serenity that can come from no other place.

Gosh, it sounds like this consulting firm recognizes that God might be involved in our careers somehow. He then goes on to quote an article that refers to Cheryl Giles, a professor from Harvard Divinity School:

….Spiritual practice – regardless of personal belief- should not be limited to Saturdays or Sundays but should be part of every day. Giles recommended that people find quiet time each day for meditation, prayer, journal writing or other forms of reflection. It’s an important exercise, she says, that helps people avoid being consumed by routine daily demands.

Amen, sister!

I applaud Barton Career Advisors for making such a bold and courageous move as to promote prayer as a normal, healthy aspect of not only surviving our careers, but growing in our life as whole people. Our careers are an important part of our lives, no doubt. But it is that – just a part.

By the way, Barton’s “Career Emergency Preparedness Plan” webinar is this Wednesday, April 27. Click here to register. I have a feeling it will be a worthwhile program.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. April 25, 2010 6:35 pm

    I’m not a business woman, but as a homemaker, it is essential
    for prayer to be part of a whole and healthy home. Just today, a terrible blowout/breakdown ended well because of – prayer. We feel cared for not when someone says, “I’ll pray for you”. But when they stop right then and do so. This was great to share Bradley. Thx.

  2. April 25, 2010 7:33 pm

    thx for the well wishes, Bradley. I had just hit publish on a new post , that eludes a bit to my transient upbringing . A familiar subject to you as well.

    I’m going to read your post now.

  3. April 25, 2010 7:38 pm

    It’s encouraging to read this, especially in light of your last post.
    I kept mulling it over, because in a sense you are right. My husband , a corporate executive, probably relies a little on a certain mommie self-employed partner to keep him up to speed on relevant social media trends and relevant dialogue. HCB once published an interview with a competitor that I was quick to bring to his attention. Not on twitter or even text or FB, more like Sunday morning over coffee.

  4. April 25, 2010 9:10 pm

    It is good to hear that Chris Barton speaks of prayer as a part of the career thought process of his consulting business.

    He should join hcb.

  5. Andrew Turner permalink
    April 26, 2010 8:50 am

    This is remarkable, because it is so profoundly basic.

    I’ve found that most career or business advice is almost useless because it ignores this aspect of truth. If our lives are not our own, and if we are finite, then it would behoove us.

    That said, for a consulting firm to express it is amazing and quite brave.

  6. April 26, 2010 9:34 am

    And what should the prayer look like?

    That is the part I am always intrigued by.

    • Andrew Turner permalink
      April 26, 2010 10:36 am

      “Lord, what should I pray for?”

      The beginning of a prayer life is faltering, not because God is any less, but because our spiritual sense is so poorly developed: there is an amount of time required to cut through the static. The Bible refers to the result as people “…whose minds are trained by practice to know the difference between good and evil.”

      Once, I thought that this was easy; however, it is not, and it is worth pursuing. The essential prayer is to be one for wisdom and God’s own mind on the subject.

      • April 27, 2010 7:54 pm

        The prayer can be simple. Like writing. Start where you are at, wherever that is.

        Sometimes prayer is just listening.

  7. April 26, 2010 3:31 pm

    The simplest has often proven to be the most effective.

    Thank You, Lord, for moving this message through the business world. Please open hearts to heed it.

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