How to Make Faith Front and Center in Your Life and in Your Work Day
“My child, when you come to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for testing. Set your heart right and be steadfast, and do not be impetuous in time of calamity.” SIGH….boy is that true or what? That’s from Sirach 2. That particular book of the Old Testament may or may not be something you’re familiar with but that sentiment probably is. You’d think the opposite would be true, wouldn’t you? But I think this speaks to so many truths about life, work, and business.
When we’re in a stressful environment, we’re going to operate on auto-pilot. Just reacting unconsciously…from the established patterns we’ve developed over the years.
I spent the first third of my career in human resources…in staffing, training, and organizational development.
One of the frustrations I had was that we’d spend tens of millions of dollars on training but not provide the kind of support that course attendees needed to truly learn the subject they were taught, whether that was customer service or leadership.
When learning to apply new skills, new ways of approaching a problem, we need support as we resist and work to break our old patterns of thinking, doing, and being because unlearning and re-learning are two of the most challenging things we do.
Our “reptilian brain” kicks in and we just start to react from those ingrained patterns and deeply rooted beliefs.
So of course our faith is tested…because it FEELS like testing.
But what’s really happening is our old way of being, doing, and thinking — going along with the masses….focusing on short term and worldly gain….being more concerned about our earthly relationships rather than our spiritual relationships — is so comfortable that we instinctively revert back to it.
So what we need to do is set ourselves up for success and to make our faith easier for us to be consistent with — everywhere in our lives but especially in our work and business life.
Here’s how to do that….
1. Make God and faith first. Wake up and give a prayer of thanks to start the day. Develop other rituals that keep you focused on God. You could read morning prayer or read a scripture reading and spend some time reflecting on its application in your life.
2. Put visual cues in your work space. That’s really what the cross on the wall was for (if you grew up in a home with crosses on them…we had them in all our bedrooms). Hang a cross or some symbol of faith (could be a poster of nature or a sunset or anything that reminds you to stop and think about God). Even hang post-it’s on your monitor if that will help.
3. Take prayer breaks. You know sitting for long periods of time is deadly right? So is a lack of prayer I think So when you take a break, just say a quick prayer of thanks….recite a favorite scripture quote….or just have a conversation with God. That’s what prayer really is to me….a chat with God.
4. Check-in when you feel yourself get stressed. Keep your Bible or other favorite spiritual book handy and open it up for a quick read. Or again,take a deep breath and turn to prayer. You want to develop the habit of turning to God rather than fuming or grabbing a piece of chocolate or whatever is your current habit of dealing with stress.
5. Make God and faith last. Every time you finish a task or project give thanks for the ability to do that work. Give credit where it’s due — to God for giving you the knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform the work and for sending you what you need when you need it. Say a prayer of thanks at the end of the work day and certainly as you get ready for sleep. Ask for and expect a great, restful night and ask for the wisdom to do what you need to do the next day.
The key thing is to focus on developing the habit of making faith the center of your actions and where (and who) you turn to first for support and guidance.
And if you’re as fascinated about behavior change and habit as I am, check out this great book, The Power of Habit.