#030 – Faith As Usual – Agonize

We have explored the five common Placebos of what we call faith as usual that can lead well intentioned leaders to stumble down Side Roads in their effort to integrate their faith and their work.  We have also hinted at the six common faith as usual Side Roads that represent responses to Placebos advertised as the Red Pill but, we believe, actually miss the ancient path of business a better way.  The first of these Side Roads is Agonizing.

Remember, Side Roads are not inherently bad–in fact, they are better than doing nothing at all.  But Side Roads are not transformative and can lull the leader into believing they are on the ancient path when they are missing deeper purpose for the organization, deeper calling for themselves and deeper flourishing for their people.  In his book Ekklesia, Ed Silvoso writes “The enemy of the “best” . . . .  is the “good”, because by being so satisfying, it deprives  us of the hunger for the “much more” that in this case God has in store.


Although everyone who starts down the path of faith/work integration likely Agonizes at some point about what they should be doing, some people get stuck there.  Agonizing isn’t “bad”–at least you are thinking about transformation–which is better than simply staying behind the Sunday/Monday Gap and blissfully going about business as usual.  Agonizing could be described as a period of conviction without direction.  The Holy Spirit is working, and the leader has a gut feeling that the idea of faith/work integration sounds like the right thing to do.  But Agonizing is clearly not where you want to stay and is clearly not business a better way.  Agonizing is particularly common right after taking The “4-Hour Content” Pill when it involves content or teaching ingested without context, intentionality or understanding.

People generally don’t stay in Agonizing forever (that would be cruel).  They either find a way to move forward or their initial good intentions are overwhelmed by busyness and morph into inertia and business as usual.  Flashes of Agonizing may come back, but the memories of the earlier discomfort make it go away more quickly.  In the words of the “Wolf of Wall Street”, “Without action, the best intentions in the world are nothing more than that:  intentions.”  If words from the immoral character Jordan Belfort are not convincing, here is how Rick Warren expressed it in a devotional:  “Faith is more than believing. Faith is more than thinking, talking, or having convictions about Jesus. Faith is action. It is movement; it is activity. Faith is something you do.”  Agonizing is not action.

Faith is more than believing. Faith is more than thinking, talking, or having convictions about Jesus. Faith is action. It is movement; it is activity. Faith is something you do. (Rick Warren)

As we have emphasized in prior posts, the risks of relying on a Placebo and stumbling down a Side Road include:

  • Missed purpose for the organization
  • Missed calling for its leaders
  • Missed flourishing of its people

It is important to emphasize that none of these Side Roads is bad–they are better than not even thinking about faith/work integration.  Agonizing is a precarious Side Road because it is like balancing on top of a fence.  It is not sustainable, because it is painful.  The leader will either push forward in his or her pursuit of the ancient path or fall back to business as usual.  Although other Side Roads often make us feel good about ourselves (and lead to huge pats on the back and even notoriety from the church and the faith/work movement), so we don’t seek more, the Agonizing Side Road is unfulfilling–we must fall one way or the other.

SPOILER ALERT:  The guidance of the Holy Spirit is important in the pursuit of Integriosity®.  This is particularly true in the third stage called RE-ALIGN as a leader finds the right places along six Covert-Overt continuums.

PERSONAL FOOTNOTE (from PM): When my faith was renewed in 2003 and I began to think about what my new-found faith meant for my practice of law, I quickly entered a state of Agonizing.  I had absolutely no idea what I was supposed to do. I never found a “how-to” book for practicing law as a follower of Jesus in a large Wall Street law firm, and I certainly didn’t find any role models in the halls.  I put a Bible on my bookshelf and eventually slipped forward into some of the other Side Roads to be discussed in future posts.

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