don’t connect the dots

I had coffee this morning with a good friend of mine. She’s an executive coach in the business world. We always have great conversations. She’s not afraid to ask me hard questions. I need that! She was telling me that more and more companies, employers, and bosses are recognizing the importance of spirituality in the workplace. I said that it is very important to realize the subtlety of what they’re doing. To promote spirituality in the workplace may be important for the health of the individual and for relationships. But there’s an incredible danger of promoting spirituality just to increase production and profits. Profits are important for a business, and necessary for its survival. Spirituality is important also, but for entirely different reasons. Of course, a healthier individual makes a healthier worker, producer, and profit-maker. Companies are recognizing this, and investing in promoting it in the workplace. Some are just concerned with the health of their workers. Others, maybe not. The risks are enormous, aren’t they?

In the church, it is even more important to be aware of this. The church must not have undue concern for its own survival, which is vastly different than business. Then, even more so, I think the spiritual health of the church’s members must not be linked to the income and profitability of the church as an institution. These two dots cannot and must not be connected.

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7 Replies to “don’t connect the dots”

  1. Man, did you ever expose the elephant in the room on this one! In earlier blogs you have talked about many people’s reactions to the church by saying “If there’s a sniff of manipulation, control, oppression, or bondage, they stay away. And I happen to believe that the church is the perfect culture for these poisons, like any other institution.” I think you identified a clear metaphor for this in today’s blog.

    “Free/good will offering”, “tithing”, and “cheerful giving” are just the marketing spin of church business and most of us smell it a mile away – and it stinks! I don’t care if those terms are biblical or not.

    In many cases the church is just another business and who wants that in the caretaker community of their soul?

  2. As someone who’s salary seems to be directly connected to church offerings, it is an enormous challenge to relieve people of the burden of the law in this matter. But freedom is freedom.

  3. Philippians 1:18 (The Message)
    v.18-21 So how am I to respond? I’ve decided that I really don’t care about their motives, whether mixed, bad, or indifferent. Every time one of them opens his mouth, Christ is proclaimed, so I just cheer them on!

    Dave, as I pondered your thoughts over the last few days about promoting spirituality in the workplace, I have been thinking about the verse the Philippians…”I really don’t care about their motives”.

    My thinking gets stuck in that I doubt if anyone can operate in absolutely pure motives…even those who really try. And even if their motives are self-centered and greedy, at least they may be creating a spiritual venue for exploration…how can that be bad?

    My other block on this thinking is I am not sure we can separate spirituality from business…or sports, music, socializing or anything else for that matter.

    Anyway, I love your blog, your breaker-sheep thoughts/actions and you as a person, but my last issue is that you are writing about too many relevant and intriguing issues and I’m losing “profits” by spending too much time reading and commenting…any chance I could get a financial kick-back (profit) for my time spent adding to the spirtiuality section of your blog !?

  4. So David,

    What are the true dangers of spirituality in the workplace? What if the end that the employer has in mind is increased productivity but the means is healthier relationships?

    Meg Wheatley on leadership and spirituality says “Effective leaderdhip begins with attention to the quality of your relationships. One of the things that I’ve learned in the poorest places on earth is that when people have each other, that’s enough. … And when we’re in an organization and dealing with uncertainty, it’s an opportunity to realize that we get through uncertainty not with our plans and strategies, but because we have trusint relationships and we know how to work together.”

  5. i have the great good fortune to work in a non-profit world where working for conservation allows me to fulfill many spiritual interests and directions- supporting a threatened species and involving different people in that process. Luckily, the grants we receive permit creation of programs that can effect these things- I can’t imagine being in a workplace where I had to check my spirit at the door.

  6. I read that article Mar. It is a good one. I so appreciate the fact that she is concerned with the spiritual health, the well-being, the integrity of people. Her claim, rightly so, is that productivity, as well as other things, is a sign of how healthy people are. Like, say, sex… better sex in a loving relationship can be a sign of the health of the relationship. But when the health of the relationship is demanded in order to have better sex, the human spirit resists it because it is a utilitarian and manipulative approach.

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