pastoral care, Pastoral Presence, pastoral psychology

Words I Hear as a Chaplain

Throughout the last few weeks, I’ve been trying my best to listen to each word, inflection, and ways employees are communicating. I’m convinced that it’s in these words and communion that something holy is happening. Yes, there is pain and loss. But there is also marks of God’s presence nearby. Just gotta look underneath the text, what some call the sacred subtext.

Every word and phrase someone shares is revealing the life material. It’s my work to listen and unpack it with them.

As a corporate chaplain, I’m thinking about the workplace context, the person’s context, and the God of context. All of these have an interplay. And we discover God’s presence and activity in the words, deeds, and life of an employee. So here are some of the words and phrases (they’re mixed for anonymity) some have used during the pandemic:

“I’m tired of waking up each day, not knowing what else is unknown”

“I wanted to quit…”

“Losing my job and getting it back showed me how much I really value work”

“Fear, stress, and anxiety are contagious like a virus. They’re just always buzzing in the air.”

“Lord, give us emotional/mental/spiritual distance from fear and anxiety. Give us six feet apart, masks, and hand sanitizer so that we won’t be infected with the fear of the unknown”

A couple lost both jobs and needs help to stay afloat.

“You’re always listening to us complain….how’s your family”

“When are things going back to normal?”

“I’ve been listening to this band…It gives me hope”

“Did you know about [insert latest conspiracy theory]…”

“Lord, hear our prayers”

“My kids are driving me crazy!”

“I’m getting to be closer to my kids. Never had this kind of time with them”

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Church Planting, corporate chaplaincy, leadership, leadership development, Music, pastoral care

Strategies for Deep Work #2

[This post is part of a book review series on Deep Work, by Cal NewPort. See post 1 for a summary.]


In Newport’s chapter titled “Rule #1: Work Deeply”, he outlines strategies and principles to help us build rituals and rhythms to do deep work that stretches our personal abilities. This first rule is about reducing and removing distractions that prohibit us from doing deep work. I outlined his first strategy (see post 1) about deciding on a Depth Philosophy. Here’s a list of the strategies (I’ll only highlight a few):

  • Decide on your Depth Philosophy
  • Ritualize
  • Make Grand Gestures
  • Don’t Work Alone
  • Execute Like a Business
  • Be Lazy

Ritualize

This strategy is about adopting rituals (actions, gestures, intentions) that help to create and maintain regular patterns of deep work. Here are some of his examples:

  • Identify where you’ll work and for how long
  • Identify how you’ll work once you start to work
  • Identify how you’ll support your work

I found this principle helpful to continue focusing on my work habits and patterns of when and where and how I like to think and create. For me, I like the morning times. It’s when my brain is the sharpest to think critically. I also don’t check emails, social media, or respond to phone calls/text messages. No tech distractions. I also like sitting in my reading chair or my patio. Both are quiet and soothing places.

“Surrounding such efforts with a complicated (and perhaps, to the outside world, quite strange) ritual accepts this reality—providing your mind with the structure and commitment it needs to slip into the state of focus where you can begin to create things that matter.”

Newport, Cal. Deep Work (p. 121). Grand Central Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Execute Like a Business

For this principle, Newport is now interested in HOW to execute strategy. What and how are two different set of questions. We may know that (what) we need to do, but not know HOW to execute it. For this, Newport refers to the book, “The 4 Disciplines of Execution” and then summarizes each discipline.

  • Discipline #1: Focus on the Wildly Important
    • identify a small number of ambitious goals (or outcomes) during deep work hours…with a tangible reward attached to it.
  • Discipline #2: Act on the Lead Measures
    • measure your success by focusing on activities that will improve behaviors that will impact your long term goals
  • Discipline #3: Keep a Compelling Scoreboard
    • have a way to publicly record and track your lead measures
  • Discipline #4: Create a Cadence of Accountability
    • review your weekly work and scoreboard to celebrate and make adjustments

Here’s one my favorite quotes from the above principle:

David Brooks endorsed this approach of letting ambitious goals drive focused behavior, explaining: “If you want to win the war for attention, don’t try to say ‘no’ to the trivial distractions you find on the information smorgasbord; try to say ‘yes’ to the subject that arouses a terrifying longing, and let the terrifying longing crowd out everything else.”

Newport, Cal. Deep Work (p. 137). Grand Central Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Bringing it Home for Me

So how does this apply to me? I have a few areas that require some deep work:

  • church planting
  • corporate chaplaincy
  • music

Using the church planting area, my work is to focus on discovering what the wildy, ambitious goals are for a new church. For me, my goal isn’t to get a lot of people to a church service. It’s not even to tell people what to do. Part of my work is to discover what the wildy important goals are. They seem to be connected to justice, healthy relationships, and caring for leaders who have big ideas on how to transform our city to reflect God’s love.

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corporate chaplaincy

Resource: The Church Needs Business People (A theology of Work and Church)

First off, I’m posting this a resource and saver for some really good stuff on business and how the church has mucked it! Working within a business environment, I see the disparity between church and the workplace. I really enjoyed reading through these posts and hope you’ll take the time to read carefully through them. Michael Kruse is summarizing a book that I’ll be using for one of my doctoral courses (at some point): “How the Church Fails Businesspeople (And What Can Be Done About It)”, by John C. Knapp. I haven’t read it yet but am really looking forward to it.

We need more ways to live our lives in public ways! We need more robust, creative theology to help us do that.

Here are the series posts…read them in order:

#1 post
#2 post
#3 post
#4 post

Thanks to Scot McKnight for his work. Check out his work at his site.

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corporate chaplaincy

Corporate Wellness – Employee Engagement

It’s beyond satisfying when I read something that’s becoming “a thing”– something I’ve been thinking about, and trying to figure out how to implement for years!

“By offering employees avenues for greater engagement, companies foster both employee satisfaction and organizational success. These can be small changes, like nurturing positive workplace relationships, or larger efforts that help employees grow both personally and professionally.”
source

One of my tag lines for the corporate chaplaincy work is “helping employees flourish personally and professionally!”

Point 1: this encouraging and validating for the future of work

Point 2: turning towards employee engagement is about having healthy systems in the workplace. People will no longer want to work for companies that are ONLY about profit. There needs to be higher incentives for engagement, community, and transformation.

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