27 Jan #053 – Integriosity – RENEW—Keep First Things First—Love—Loving Generously—Faithful Presence
ESSENCE: Keep First Things First means going back to Biblical first principles, and one of the four principles embedded in the word Integriosity® is the “Generosity Priority” of LOVE. “All the Law and the Prophets” depend on the commandments to love God and love your neighbor, which makes understanding love your neighbor in an organizational context essential to faithfully “doing right”. James Hunter’s faithful presence is the best tool we know for understanding what it means to love your neighbor through the culture of social structures such as organizations and businesses. It is about enacting Shalom where you are for the benefit of all.
Keep First Things First means going back to Biblical first principles. The last several posts have taken a dive into the “Integrity Priorities” embedded into Integriosity®—Righteousness and Kingdom. We will now begin to look at the “Generosity Priorities”–Love and Humility.
While it is hard enough to understand the intersection of faith and work/business, an initial reaction to the intersection of work/business and love might be to start thinking of Tina Turner singing “What’s love got to do with it?” (You can hear it now, can’t you? We’ve included a link below to the video in case we caused an itch you need to scratch!) But if “all the Law and the Prophets” depend on the commandments to love God and love your neighbor (Matthew 22:38-40), how can Love not be a Biblical first principle and how can it not be essential to an organization faithfully “doing right”? It can’t.
Love in Organizations–“Faithful Presence”
We have mentioned James Hunter and his book To Change the World in several past posts (see #003, #024, #038, #039, #041, #045, and #046). In To Change the World, Hunter introduces a concept he calls “faithful presence“. As described in Post #038, after concluding that the various ways in which the Evangelical church has been engaging culture in America is doomed to fail, Hunter proposes faithful presence as an alternative theology. He describes it as follows:
A theology of faithful presence calls Christians to enact the shalom of God in the circumstances in which God has placed them and to actively seek it on behalf of others. . . . What this means is that where and to the extent that we are able, faithful presence commits us to do what we can to create conditions in the structures of social life we inhabit that are conducive to the flourishing of all.
Faithful presence is a way of living out love your neighbor in our daily life–even while working or leading an organization. Let’s look at some key ideas in Hunter’s description:
- Enact the Shalom of God. “Shalom” does not just mean “peace”. Dr. Anne Bradley defines Shalom as: “universal flourishing, wholeness, and delight, representing the way things ought to be.” At Integrous, we define Shalom as “an environment in which truth, beauty and goodness are valued and people and institutional cultures flourish by doing what God designed them to do in the way God designed them to do it—assisting in God’s restorative plan for His Kingdom by adding to its beauty“. This ties to Part 4 of the BIGGER GOSPEL–it is what the world will be like when Restoration is complete. Enacting Shalom is “building for God’s Kingdom”.
- Where God Has Placed You. Faithful presence and loving your neighbor does not require you to go on a mission trip to a developing nation or volunteer at a soup kitchen (though you may well choose to do those worthwhile things as a way of loving your neighbor). In fact, faithful presence is much more demanding! It is one thing to do a once-per-year (or once-in-a-lifetime) “mission vacation” and feel like you have checked off love your neighbor, but it is quite another to begin living it out where God has placed you–in your neighborhood, in your school, in your community, at work, in the marketplace–EVERY DAY.
- Actively Seek It On Behalf of Others. Faithful presence is not about creating our own personal paradise of Shalom. It is derived from love your neighbor, which means it is about creating environments of Shalom that benefit everyone, whether or not they share your faith.
- Create Conditions in the Structure of Social Life. Faithful presence is not just about loving individuals. It is about transforming social structures, which includes organizations, businesses, departments, working groups. In To Change the World, Hunter argues that cultures change through institutions more than through individuals. Where God has given you influence over or in a social structure such as a business, love your neighbor commands you to do what you can to move it toward Shalom.
- Conducive To the Flourishing of All. Faithful presence and Shalom are about human flourishing, and they are about promoting and facilitating flourishing for EVERYONE in the social structures you or your organization touches.
Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor. (Proverbs 21:21)
While it is easy to think about how to love your neighbor when it comes to being kind to people or helping an individual or a people group in need, James Hunter’s faithful presence is the best tool we know for understanding what it means to love your neighbor through the culture of social structures such as organizations and businesses. Remember, an organization is simply a group of people working together toward a common goal. If people are called to love their neighbor, then organizations must exist to do the same.
The goals of faithful presence—Shalom and flourishing–are central to the three BIGGER purposes of work and business described in our last post that represent ways to faithfully “do right”.
- Humanize: People are more “fully human” and able to flourish when engaged in meaningful work that unleashes their God-given productivity and creativity in a culture of Shalom built on Biblical principles of relationships, community and human dignity.
- Beautify: An organization adds to the beauty of the world and assists in God’s restorative plan for His Kingdom by creating opportunities, goods and services that help families and communities to flourish and by extending its culture of Shalom to all people it touches. In the process, the work of the organization takes on deeper meaning for its own people.
- Glorify: An organization glorifies God and “loves its neighbors” principally through serving people–by providing opportunities for individuals to express aspects of their God-given identities in creative and meaningful work, by providing opportunities, goods and services that enable families and communities to flourish and by creating a culture of Shalom conducive to the flourishing of all people it touches.
We believe it is time for “business a better way” in alignment with Biblical values and priorities such as LOVE–it is time to begin faithfully “doing right” through Integriosity®.
SPOILER ALERT: The path to Integriosity involves five key “mind-shifts” and one of them is all about putting flourishing in its proper place.
PERSONAL NOTE (from PM): When James Hunter launched To Change the World at the 2010 New Canaan Society National Retreat in Washington D.C., we arranged for another keynote speaker to be David Kiersznowski. David explained that when he and his wife, Demi, were forming a new company called Demdaco (you are likely to know them by their Willow Tree Angels), they were very thoughtful and intentional about trying to create an organization and a culture that pursued faithful presence and would be conducive to Shalom and flourishing. This is how they describe the culture of Demdaco on the company’s website:
Our purpose is to pursue business the way it ought to be—not merely as a financial endeavor—but first-and-foremost, a human endeavor.
Therefore, we try to develop an environment where work is not just a job.
Our Mission to Lift the Spirit supports a holistic approach to career that includes opportunities for colleagues to pursue and nurture their personal and community interests in relation to the values we hold dear. We believe there is more to work than bottom lines and deadlines. Our endeavor to Lift the Spirit starts in our own halls, offices and meeting rooms. If we don’t feel a little Joy, Comfort, and Love in the workplace, it will be evident in the products we make and the way we engage with our community.