A friend leaned over the table at Starbucks yesterday morning during a pre-work chat and confided, "You really don’t want to know what goes on in this space above my shoulders.”
He is the Chief Executive of his organization, and we were talking about the psychotic warped thinking that can unravel in the mind of an otherwise confident leader under duress of stress and confrontation.
He was joking, of course—but not really.
The two of us who had joined him for some pre-commuter banter and strong coffee both rolled our eyes and nodded our heads in instant recognition.
I don’t care how it looks from the outside. Even the most high-powered rollers are plagued from time to time with insecurity, doubts, and the dreaded Imposter Syndrome, which says, “What were they thinking when they put me in this position of authority!? What have I gotten myself into?! I’m going to fail! Fail, I tell you! Fail!”
As for me, I am also subject at times to the tyranny of being defined by what I produce. However, as an aspiring spiritually-intentional leader, I am gradually learning to manage the beast by constantly reminding myself about the greater purpose of my work. Which is to say, it’s not about me.
It’s about everyone else. Giving, encouraging, building up, creating, helping.
This enlightenment is not a one-time revelation that appears with a bolt of lightning, or from reading the latest work-faith book that somehow has almost the exact same unimaginative title as every other work-faith book that has ever been written. No, I must find ways to keep reminding myself over and over and over again.
To deal with the constant rash of self-centered and negative mind-chatter, I have taken to saying tiny micro-prayers at various points throughout the day: prior to walking into a difficult meeting; while in the midst of same meeting; before presenting a Big Idea to the Big Cheese; while staring blankly into my computer; or just about any time when I suspect there might be head-butting and ego-clashing coming down the hall.
The idea is to detach, to unlatch my ego-driven agenda from the situation, to make it more about the possibilities of God’s presence or opportunities for the spirit to shine rather than about me getting my way.
So the other day, I found myself spontaneously reciting a segment from the Lord’s prayer before entering a meeting: “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is heaven.” Then, without thinking, I immediately switched up the second part to “…at work as it is in heaven.” Because I was at work, and at the moment, that was exactly where God’s will was hopefully getting done. It was my place on earth, and I was bringing His kingdom to that meeting.
Another prayer I have been using lately is paraphrased from Psalm 70:1, and goes like this: “Come to my help, Oh God. Lord, hurry to my rescue.”
Simple. Useful. Easy to whisper. Sometimes I repeat it, like a mantra. Not that I’m in trouble all the time, but there’s no question I could use the help all day.
After a good strong sip of coffee, I told my pre-commute friends that after years of struggling, I think I am finally getting the idea that my work is God’s work. I no longer think it strange that my management position is anything other than revealing His kingdom at my workplace—as it is in heaven. Just like he taught us to pray.
Getting into the habit of saying micro-prayers during your work day is a handy method for keeping you plugged in, incorporating spiritual practice into your work life. Take the opportunity to step back for a few moments today to call down some good grace on your situation.
Post by J.B. Wood, author of the cleverly-titled work-faith e-book, At Work as it is in Heaven.