Spirit at Work
January 20th was a special day. Not because it was my birthday or because it was the inauguration of our 44th President. But because it was a day where the worlds of work, government and faith came together. It was a day where school children, office workers, government employees and millions of people joined in prayer for the President of the United States, his family and the future of our nation. And then we all heard our new President speak about the faith and spirit needed to overcome these challenging times. It was a breath of fresh air and left me wondering a few questions:
Why does this happen so infrequently? Why have we become so scared to mention faith and work in the same sentence? In a world where 92% of people believe in a higher power and our dollar bill has “In God we Trust" on it and the President takes an oath of office with his hand on a bible and ends every speech with God Bless America, why has political correctness become the norm and how has it given way to spiritual death and misery at work?
Think about it. We celebrate national holidays and honor people like Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Lincoln, and Mother Teresa who changed the world because of their faith and yet we are supposed to ignore the faith that moved them to do great things. That would be like studying the act of breathing but ignoring the oxygen that it requires.
Please know, I'm not talking about religion. I'm talking about faith, spirit and a relationship. 2000 years ago there was no separation between someone's work life and their spiritual life. Yet now people come to work and leave their spirit at home. They go to church on Sundays and discard the lessons they learned on Mondays. We complain that there's no spirit in the workplace and perhaps it's because we've done such a good job keeping it out. Perhaps that's why greed has severely hurt our economy and why so many are burned out and feel like their souls are being crushed at work. Spirit and work were never meant to be separated. Our faith was always meant to guide us in our work and actions.
Everyone wants to talk about employee morale and engagement but that doesn't happen without tapping into a bigger purpose. Companies and organizations want their people to be happy, motivated and productive but when you remove the key ingredient of spirit and purpose you’re left with a hole that can't be filled. The research is clear. People are most energized when they are using their talents for a purpose beyond themselves.
We complain to God about the economy and say why did you allow this to happen but in reality God didn't cause this. We did. The signs were there but we ignored them. Perhaps this is a great time to learn from our mistakes. Perhaps more God and less Greed is not such a bad idea. Perhaps more faith and less fear would be a good thing. Maybe starting your day with a silent prayer at your desk would give you strength. Maybe getting together and praying as a company in your own way would give a much needed energy boost. Amazing things happen when people come together in prayer.
This is what 100,000 businessmen did at Tokyo's Kanda Myojin shrine at the start of the New Year (news article here). Its also what the city of Atlanta did when Lake Lanier and the water supply ran dangerously low.
Also consider other ways to infuse spirit into the workplace. Southwest Airlines places employees through spirit boot camp when they join Southwest. The Westin Hotel employees now have name tags that also list their passion. I saw one employee with a tag that said "My passion is creating social change." And Ken Blanchard, author of the One Minute Manager, whose title is the Chief Spiritual Officer of his company hosts a daily call for all his employees where he shares a positive and inspirational message.
You don't have to evangelize in the work place and try to convince someone to believe what you believe. But you can be a living, breathing example of your faith. As St. Francis of Assisi said, "people would rather see a sermon than hear one” anyway. You can invite God to work. I know what you’re thinking. If you were God you'd stay out of your work place too. :) But God wants to come into your work place. After all, the workplace is part of the Universe. Universe means "one song" and the creator of the one song wants to bring all of creation into harmony. With so many miserable people at work who feel hopeless and purposeless, I believe God wants to do redeem the workplace. But God needs each one of us to play our note.
So bring your spirit to work. Let your spiritual life power your work life. Let it move you to be your best and bring out the best in others. Let it guide you to make the right decisions. Let it inspire you to serve, lead and empower others. See your work not as a burden but as an opportunity to make a positive impact. In the process transform your work place from a dead zone to a place of spirit, energy and life.