#027 – Faith As Usual – The “Add Some Faith” 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 third Placebo (after The “4-Hour Content” Pill and The “Save or Give” Pill) is The “Add Some Faith” Pill, which commonly leads to the Side Road of Cosmeticizing.

Remember, Placebos can be presented as being the red pill of business a better way, but are actually empty capsules or “feel good” pills.  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.

The “Add Some Faith” Pill

We have suggested in prior posts that 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.  Unfortunately, we believe some of the faith as usual content on faith/work integration is based on “bad theology” or, at least, poor communication of good theology.  As a result, the leader setting out inspired or guided by that content is doomed to a Side Road.

“Bad theology” or poor communication is behind the Placebo we call The “Add Some Faith” Pill.  We believe words are important and powerful.  After all, God created the universe by speaking, and Satan tried to tempt Jesus by twisting God’s word.   The most common words used to express The “Add Some Faith” Pill are:

  • “Integrate your faith into your work or business.”
  • “Bring your faith into your work or business.”

The problem with this theology (or expression) is best captured by a quote said to be from Max De Pree, CEO of Herman Miller (quoted by Richard Mouw): “Talking about integrating your faith into your work is like talking about integrating your marriage into your sex life.The “Add Some Faith” Pill gets the whole thing backwards!  The leader who has successfully crossed both the Sunday/Monday Gap and the Sacred/Secular Gap, gets sent on a Side Road in trying to cross the Knowing/Doing Gap because the foundation of their Knowing about Doing has been turned on its head.

Talking about integrating your faith into your work is like talking about integrating your marriage into your sex life. (Richard Mouw quoting Max De Pree)

We believe faith and work integration is about integrating your work and business into your faith.  Semantics?  We don’t think so.  “Christian businessperson”–backwards.  “Work/Life Balance”–deceptive.  Words matter–words have power.  There is a famous quote (attributed to various people in various forms) that essentially says our words become our actions, which become our habits, which become our values, which become our destiny.  What is the “destiny” of our efforts to integrate faith and work if we start out with the words backwards?

The “Add Some Faith” Pill can lead a person to see their work or business as the “main thing” and their faith as the sugar on top.  The “Add Some Faith” Pill can deceive a leader into believing that the integration of faith and work is principally about sprinkling some “faith” pixie dust over the organization to make it look and feel “Godly”–and that leads down the Side Road of Cosmeticizing.

Placebos like The “Add Some Faith” 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.  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 lead to huge pats on the back and even notoriety from the church and the faith/work movement), so we don’t seek more.  We believe more is much harder, but it is necessary and worth the journey. That journey is the journey of Integriosity®.

SPOILER ALERT:  One of the key “mind-shifts” in the first stage of Integriosity–RENEW–is “Faith Can’t Fit Into Work“.  It is understanding that a person’s work or business is not big enough to hold the faith God calls each of us to have.  Our faith, on the other hand, is to encompass our life, including work and family and leisure.  It defines who we are in every aspect of life.

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 and for five years never really got past Individualizing when God called me to walk a different path.  I had heard the “bring your faith into work” message, but had no idea what to do.  I did sprinkle a little pixie dust by “bringing in” a Bible and putting it on my bookshelf.  In five years, one person noticed (but I patted myself on the back numerous times).

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