#025 – Faith As Usual – The 4-Hour Content Pill

As you hopefully know by now from prior posts, we borrow from a famous scene in the Matrix movie and refer to the blue pill of business as usual  and the red pill of business a better way (or Integriosity®)–this has nothing to do with States or politics (or that “other” blue pill)!  We believe there are five common Placebos of what we call faith as usual that can lead well intentioned leaders down Side Roads in their effort to integrate their faith and their work.  The first Placebo we will explain is The “4-Hour Content” Pill, which commonly leads to the Side Roads of Agonizing and Individualizing.

The “4-Hour Content” Pill

Anyone exploring the topic of faith/work integration will realize that there is no shortage of excellent content (hundreds or even thousands of books), conferences, ministries and coaches devoted to the “faith and work movement”.  We believe many leaders begin to pursue integration of their faith and work after being inspired by content–whether that is reading a book, watching a video, listening to a podcast, hearing a sermon or speech or attending a conference.

The problem occurs when the inspired person returns to work after ingesting a few hours (or minutes) of content and tries to figure out how to internalize and personalize it to apply to their life and organization–amidst the pressures and time commitments of the organization’s day-to-day operations.  Perhaps they are inspired to read another book or find additional content.  Unfortunately, there are significant hurdles to converting typical faith/work content into transformative action.

  • Gaps.  Transformative action requires leaders to figure out how to take the content and jump the Knowing/Doing Gap.  But they may not yet have crossed the Sacred/Secular Gap or even the Sunday/Monday Gap.  Content that is meant to be practical may not lay a sufficient Knowing foundation–jumping the Knowing/Doing Gap without really Knowing is just flailing with good intentions.  Content that focuses on the theology of the Sunday/Monday Gap and Sacred/Secular Gap, may leave the leader hanging unequipped on the precipice of practical application.
  • Stories.  Much of the content available on faith and work integration is stories–stories about how a particular person, in a particular industry, in a particular geographic region, in a particular organization, at a particular point in time in the organization’s development and at a particular point in the person’s faith journey, went about integrating his or her faith and work.  They are great stories full of ideas and methods and even miracles, but they can be hard to apply to a different person, or in a different industry, or in a different region, or in a different organization, or at a different time in the organization’s development or as part of a different faith journey.
  • Checklists.  Some content on faith and work integration comes in the form of very specific checklists or programs.  Checklists (e.g., start a Bible study, start prayer groups, sponsor mission trips, give Bibles to customers, start a benevolence fund) and programs are often compiled or created from a particular story or from numerous stories and, like stories, can be challenging to apply to a particular person, in a particular industry, in a particular geographic region, in a particular organization, at a particular point in time in the organization’s development and at a particular point in the person’s faith journey. Applying an ill-fitting list or program can lead to confusion, frustration, intimidation, just giving up, or worse. While they may feel “easy” to implement, in fact, they might call for action that would represent poor stewardship of a particular business (e.g., encouraging overt use of Christian symbols and practices in a context where such use would be detrimental to the leader and harmful to the organization).
  • Principles.  Content that consists of general principles (e.g., “Apply the Golden Rule”) avoids the checklist problems but will likely be difficult to apply practically without more context or understanding, particularly in the midst of leading the organization in the day-to-day business.  Again, confusion, frustration, intimidation and just giving up may follow.
  • Theology.  Other content on faith and work integration may be more theological than practical–making it hard to apply to anything in real life without more context.  Even worse, we believe a fair amount of theology espoused in the faith and work movement (what we call faith as usual) actually leads people down the Side Roads that result in missed purpose for the organization, missed calling for its leaders and missed flourishing of its people.  “Bad theology” is behind the Placebos we call the “Save or Give” Pill, the “Add Some Faith” Pill and the “Bless You” Pill, leading to the Side Roads of Individualizing, Monetizing, Cosmeticizing and Prosperitizing.

Content plays an important role in creating the needed spark for a leader to pursue faith/work integration, but it may not be enough to sustain the fire (or even get it started).

Without action, the best intentions in the world are nothing more than that--intentions. (Jordan Belfort in ``The Wolf of Wall Street``)

Placebos like The “4-Hour Content” Pill can be presented as being the red pill of business a better way, but are actually empty capsules or “feel good” pills. 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 doing nothing (except Interimizing, which is basically doing nothing with the best intentions).  BUT, they are not the best–we believe they are not what God calls us to in stewarding organizations of humans pursuing their humanity through work.  Sadly, the “side roads” often make us feel good about ourselves (and can even lead to huge pats on the back and even notoriety from the church and the faith/work movement), so we don’t see the need to seek more.  We believe more is necessary and worth the journey. That journey is the journey of Integriosity®.


PERSONAL FOOTNOTE (from PM):  Content is not bad–in fact it is necessary for Knowing.  But it is not enough.  Conferences are not bad–in fact, they can be inspiring.  But they are not enough.  Coaching and Cohorts are not bad–in fact it can help many people figure it out for themselves.  But I believe for many people they are not enough to navigate Doing.  Integrous was started to help leaders who understand the limitations of Content, Conferences, Coaches and Cohorts and are ready for an experienced advisor and trusted counselor to walk by their side and help them bridge the Knowing/Doing Gap.

I have spent the last few years creating a great deal of “content” for use in providing advice through Integrous (e.g., the model and process of Integriosity), but I do not want Integrous to be just about “more content”.  These Integriosity blog posts are just a way to share some of that content for those who are not yet ready to go “all-in” in faith/work integration or for those who may be stuck behind a Gap or on a Side Road and not even realize they are stuck.  Integriosity calls leaders to something much more challenging, but I believe much more in line with God’s creation story and His plans for His Kingdom.  It is about changing the heart of their organization–its WHY.  I know many leaders are not ready for that “leap of faith”, but Integrous is here for those who are ready for a “Chief Integrity Counsel”.

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