Welcome to the Faith and Enterprise Podcast, hosted by Rob Tribken. We seek ways to promote spiritual renewal in our work lives, and focus on topics such as spiritual practices that can help you in your work, developing a deeper sense of purpose and mission (your business or your work as a calling); overcoming stress and other aspects of a toxic workplace (burnout, anxiety, boredom, interpersonal conflict, unethical behavior, a bad boss); the spiritual aspects of leadership; and the ways that your faith or spirituality can inform and support your daily work. More info: www.faithandenterprise.org, or email@example.com. The time has come for spiritual renewal; we hope you will join us on this quest.
Prayer and the Development of a Deeper Sense of Mission
In this program, we will talk about a time when Jesus went off and prayed by himself in the early morning hours, while it was still dark, and emerged with a very clear and powerful sense of mission. This might tell us something about a potential connection between prayer and our work and maybe between prayer and the sense of mission and purpose we bring to our work.
The Story of Norman Borlaug and the Fight Against Famine
This week we talk about the story of Norman Borlaug and his fight against famine. We also note some of the theological implications of Borlaug's work.
Borlaug was a Nobel Prize winner who died in 2009. His work in the field of agriculture may very well have saved hundreds of millions of lives from famine. He and his teams accomplished this by developing new breeds of wheat and new agricultural methods in Mexico, Pakistan, India, and other countries, at a time when each of these countries faced the prospect of mass starvation. And they did so in the face of powerful political opposition.
The Borlaug story shows the value of developing the knowledge, skill, and technique necessary to convert the basic material of the universe, the matter and energy governed by the laws of nature, into the products and services that are important for human well-being. From a theological perspective, we could say that God provides what we need to survive and even flourish, but it is up to us to figure out how to make use of God’s provision and to go to work doing so. The theological point is made in Biblical passages such as Psalm 104:14-15.
This process calls for the work of scientists, engineers, technologists, and inventors. But let's not stop there. A broad range of occupations contributes to the process, including the people who design logistics and transportation systems, new ways of organizing information, new forms of organization, new ways of communicating, and all the other activities it takes to sustain this work. These all contribute.
And it's not only the big innovations, like those of Borlaug, that really matter. The big innovations cannot usually survive without a whole host of smaller innovations, many of which are almost unnoticeable. And the big innovations themselves are often based on a great many smaller innovations.
Of course not everything we produce is beneficial. Wisdom is required, the wisdom to know what should and should not be created. Each of us can probably point to a time when human inventiveness took us in the wrong direction. We need wisdom, more wisdom than we sometimes exhibit. And, you might say, the wisdom that is found in the Bible.
Weathering the Storms of Financial Crisis
In this episode we talk about financial crisis, and how our faith and our spirituality can help us prepare for and survive such crisis.
As we go through our lives most of us encounter financial ups and downs, sometimes very serious ones. This is true for both individuals and societies. And in the interconnected world of today, the global economy as a whole can move through a series of simultaneous economic expansions and contractions, sometimes improving human well being, sometimes causing hardship.
We will discuss the Biblical story of Joseph and Pharaoh and how this story might provide us with some important insights into how we can weather these financial storms.
As we will see in the story, Egypt faced seven years of prosperity followed by seven years of agricultural depression that could have led to a great famine. Joseph prevented the famine by storing food in storehouses during the good years so that it would be available during the bad years.
Unfortunately the human tendency is to do exactly the opposite of what Joseph did. While Joseph aggressively stored grain during the good times, we humans have a tendency to do the opposite – to behave as though the good times will last forever, in some cases making commitments and taking on debt which will be difficult to repay during the slow times.
This does not mean that we should not make commitments or take on debt, but rather that we should not overdo it.
We need to recognize that neither the good times nor the bad times last forever. Our cycle might not actually be seven years up and seven years down, but the wheel does turn. In the good times we need to behave prudently so that we will be ready, and in the bad times we need to have the courage and persistence to get through the difficulties and to anticipate the better times.
Our faith can certainly help by helping us develop a longer term perspective, develop the character and courage it takes to stay grounded during both parts of the cycle, and behave wisely.
Our churches can play an important role. This does not mean that a church should give us economic advice, any more than it should take political positions. But it can help us develop the foundation necessary to for us to act with wisdom.
Everyday Heroes in the Workplace
This week we talk about everyday heroes – the people who show up for work every day, doing work they do not particularly like, in order to support others for whom they care.
Twenty years ago, Robert Bellah observed that we tend to think of our work in one of three categories: as a job, as a career, or as a calling. To say that our work is a job, under Bellah's scheme, is to say that we exchange our time and energy for money – and that this is our primary reason for working. We are not following a so-called higher calling, and we are not building a career.
We sometimes think of work done primarily for money as "just a job", as though it has less importance than work done as a calling or even work done to further a career. But this is not fair.
It is important to think about not just the money but what the money means. There can be a tendency in some quarters to think of greed, a desire for material objects, or maybe a striving for social status. But in most cases, people are working for things that can have considerably more validity than the stereotypes might suggest. They might be working to create a better life for their children, move to a safer neighborhood, reduce the chronic anxiety of financial insecurity, or maybe just to put food on the table. All of these desires, and many others, are valid – maybe even more valid than some of the so-called callings we sometimes hear about.
In this episode we tell the story of one of these everyday heroes -- an amazing working mother who provided a better life for her children.
Risk and Opportunity in Our Work Lives
Most of us encounter both risk and opportunity in our work lives – and sometimes a great deal of both. How we understand and respond to these can make a big difference in our work lives and in how we live.
This was true for Abraham many thousands of years ago when he willingly faced great risk, responded to a great opportunity, and did so in the belief that he was being called by God.
We need to look squarely at the reality of risk. It is present to some degree in each of our lives and attempting to deny it is likely to lead to a painful and unexpected awakening in the future. On the other hand, we also need to be alert to opportunity and not be dominated by our fears.
There are risks that would be quite foolish to accept, of course, but there are also risks that are necessary for growth, personal and otherwise. The challenge is to distinguish between these two types and make well thought out decisions, fully cognizant of both the risks and the opportunities.
While our faith does not always give as much guidance regarding which specific risks we should avoid and which specific opportunities we should pursue, it can still play a very important role. It can help keep us stay clearheaded and grounded, and to keep the risks and opportunities in proper perspective. Our faith and spiritual practices can also help us to move forward with more courage once we have made a decision.
Leisure and the Sabbath: The Gift of Rest and Renewal
Most of us know that we could benefit from periodically taking time off from our work and responsibilities, and enjoying a time of rest and renewal. But that does not make it easy to do.
The Biblical idea of the Sabbath, of taking one day of rest each week, can be a great gift to us – a day of rest and refreshment, a day when we can recharge and replenish, a day that might even lead us into the rhythm of a richer, fuller life.
We should see it as a gift, not as a set of rules and obligations. As Jesus said, ”the Sabbath was made for humankind, not humankind for the Sabbath”(Mark 2:28).
It should be a day of leisure. And to truly engage in and enjoy leisure, we need to let go of our work and our responsibilities, and maybe even have some fun. As we relax and let go of the stress, there seems to be a process of renewal or recharging that takes place below the surface.
There are things that can keep us from enjoying these benefits, even if we are willing and able to take a day off. But there are also things we can do that can help us in this, despite the obstacles. We will discuss both aspects on this episode.
If we can take some time off each week, and really let go of our work and our obligations, we will find that the Sabbath is a great gift to us, and that it can help us move towards a richer, fuller, less stressful life.
Simple and powerful messages
It's hard to find a good podcast that can be entertaining and also provide a way to improve your life. This is one of those that does both. In each episode, Rob does a great job of sharing a powerful message and then helps provides the application for our careers.