26 May #070 – Integriosity – RENEW—Mind-Shift #4–The “HOW” of Integration
ESSENCE: The fourth key “mind-shift” of business a better way through Integriosity® captures a new way of thinking about the HOW of faith-work integration–it is getting at the PRACTICE of “business a better way” through actually implementing a “heart” change in the organization being stewarded. The critical thing to remember about Mind-Shift #4 is “SYMBOLS ARE SECONDARY“. In the spirit of evangelizing, the explicit or implicit message of the faith-work movement is often that overt is better (or even necessary), but being overt may be absolutely the wrong approach–poor stewardship–for a particular organization (both the over-emphasis on “overtness” and the fear of being overt may push a leader down a Side Road). Matthew 10:16 cautions to be “wise as serpents”, and we believe the “wise” approach is a flexible approach, pursuing “heart change” along six Covert-Overt Continuums. The most important step is getting on the continuums, because any place along a continuum is better than no place on the continuum. Leading an organization to faithfully “do right” through business a better way requires mind-shifts that lead to heart-shifts, both in the leaders and in the organization.
In post #066 we introduced the five key “mind-shifts” of business a better way thinking that are the gateway to moving into the RE-IMAGINE process of Integriosity®, and in our last three posts (#067, #068 and #069) we explored:
Mind-Shift #4 is about rethinking the “HOW” of faith-work integration–it is getting at the PRACTICE of “business a better way” through actually implementing a “heart” change in the organization being stewarded.
“MIND-SHIFT #4”–Practice of Implementing Faith-Work Integration
In prior posts, we have talked about the type of faith-work integration that is good–better than doing nothing at all–but misses changing the heart of the organization. As with all the “mind-shifts”, we believe there are two common (and misguided) views as well as what we call the RENEWED view.
- World View.
- Traditional. Traditionally, the secular “world” view of integrating faith and work has traditionally been pretty simple–you really shouldn’t do it, but if you do then keep it personal (e.g., be a better person, pray silently) and, by all means, KEEP IT TO YOURSELF. You CAN’T BE OVERT about your faith at work.
- Enlightened. In recent years, the traditional view has softened with the growth of Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). ERGs are basically affinity groups of employees that are either recognized or at least tolerated by an organization in recognition of the benefits that come from encouraging employees to “bring their whole self” to work. ERGs can be formed around numerous commonalities, such as race, sexual preference, gender, parents, veterans, disabilities and faith. In some cases, faith-based ERGs are becoming a force within the organization. For example, Salesforce has a faith-based ERG called Faithforce with over 2,000 members across five continents. (The Religious Freedom and Business Foundation is a great resource for information about faith-based ERGs.)
- “Faith as Usual” Views.
- While the concept of work being sacred is not something new (Protestant reformers Luther and Calvin argued that work was a sacred calling and Catholic Popes have recognized the sacred nobility of work), the “faith-work movement” has largely been driven by Evangelical Christians.
- In the spirit of evangelizing, the explicit or implicit message of the faith-work movement is often OVERT IS BETTER (or even necessary). Moreover (and understandably), the focus of business practices promoted by faith-work messaging tends to be on initiatives that “evangelize”. For example, holding Bible studies, forming prayer groups, mentioning God in the mission statement, hiring corporate chaplains, distributing Bibles, putting Christian messaging on business cards, putting Bible verses on invoices or in shipments or on packaging, paying for Christian counseling, arranging mission trips for employees, supporting local Christian ministries , etc.
- In post #026 we talked about the Placebo we call The Save or Give Pill. It is a message that crosses the Sunday/Monday Gap but then gets stuck. It correctly gets the leader across that Gap by acknowledging business is a platform for doing Kingdom work, but then stalls the leader short of the next Gap (the Sacred/Secular Gap) by suggesting that only two types of Kingdom work can legitimately be done from the business platform: Save – Evangelizing people at or through work (e.g., employees, customers, vendors); or Give – Generating wealth that can be donated to support people and organizations (like the local church and missionary and humanitarian organizations) that do the “real” Kingdom work of evangelizing people or caring for “the least of these”. The problem with this message is that it sees business as a secular platform for sacred work, rather than a sacred platform itself.
- Overt faith initiatives are not necessarily bad, and, in and of themselves, they may be good, BUT
- They may lead down the Side Road of Cosmeticizing, which is when an organization adopts overt faith symbols and practices without transforming how it actually does business.
- They may not be the wisest stewardship of the organization God has entrusted to its leaders–they may not be the path that actually maximizes the flourishing of all humans connected to the organization.
- Matthew 10:16 counsels: “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of the wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.“
Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. (Matthew 10:16)
- The “Renewed” View. Matthew 10:16 cautions to be “wise as serpents”, and we believe the “wise” approach is a flexible approach. The critical thing to remember about Mind-Shift #4 is “SYMBOLS ARE SECONDARY”. What comes to mind is the popular quote usually mis-attributed to St. Francis: “Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.” The faithfully “doing right” version might be “Change the heart of the organization. Use overt faith symbols to the extent led by the Holy Spirit.”
- BEING overt may be absolutely the wrong approach–poor stewardship–for a particular organization, given factors such as the industry, geographic location, customer base, employee base, regulatory environment.
- FORCING overtness can result in leaders doing nothing (Agonizing), keeping it personal rather than organizational (Individualizing) or turning to financial generosity (Monetizing), without changing the WHY of the organization and the way it operates.
- IDOLIZING overtness rewards surface change without heart change (Cosmeticizing).
- The Continuum Approach.
- At Integrous, we view faithfully “doing right” along six Covert-Overt Continuums:
- Each continuum goes from COVERT to OVERT and represents areas in which leaders can begin to institute changes to the heart of the organization.
- Many leaders are intimidated by the idea of overt faith initiatives and do nothing. We believe the most important step is getting on the continuums, because any place along a continuum is better than no place on the continuum.
- At Integrous, we view faithfully “doing right” along six Covert-Overt Continuums:
Leading an organization to faithfully “do right” through business a better way requires mind-shifts that lead to heart-shifts, both in the leaders and in the organization. Anything less can bring the the missed purpose for organizations, the missed calling for leaders, the missed flourishing for people and the increased misery that was explained in Post #036.
We believe it is time for business a better way in alignment with Biblical values and priorities–it is time to begin faithfully “doing right” through Integriosity®.
SPOILER ALERT: In the third step of Integriosity–RE-ALIGN–“Flexible Approach” is one of the five ingredients for execution, and we will look more deeply at the various Covert-Overt Continuums.
PERSONAL NOTE (from PM): I am embarrassed to admit that in February 2020, I had to Google “ERG”. A friend had connected me with Bill Peel, who at the time was the Executive Director of The Center for Faith & Work at LeTourneau University. Bill is one of the early leaders and visionaries in the faith-work movement in the United States. After a wonderful conversation, Bill said “Are you going to the ERG conference next week in Washington?” I replied, “No, I didn’t even know about it.” After Bill’s endorsement, I Googled “ERG”. As it turned out, I did know what ERGs were–I just had never heard the acronym used as a word. For several years, I served on the planning team for the Professionals and Marketplace Track of Movement Day in New York, and we brought in a number of speakers who led Employee Resource Groups. With the new-found knowledge that “ERGs” were relevant to Integrous and not just the machine that elicits expletives (and other things) from rowers, I immediately signed up to attend. I believe faith-based ERGs can be a fantastic “ground up” path to cultural heart change, particularly in publicly-held businesses where top-down change to faithfully “do right” would take extraordinary leadership, wisdom and courage.
The 2020 conference in Washington (one of the last events I attended before the Covid lockdown) was sponsored by The Religious Freedom and Business Foundation, which is led by Brian Grim and Kent Johnson and doing wonderful work encouraging and supporting faith-based ERGs. I saw some old friends (e.g., Eric Welch, who has been a leader in networking the faith-work movement and now works with the Christian Employers Alliance and John Bishop, a friend from the New Canaan Society) and met some really great new ones (e.g., Kent Johnson, who was Senior Counsel at Texas Instruments for 37 years and now serves as a Senior Advisor to The Religious Freedom and Business Foundation; Rabbi Michael Shevack, who writes and has taught on business ethics and spirituality; Jonathan Berry, who was heading up the regulatory office at the U.S. Department of Labor and is now a partner at Boyden Gray & Associates in DC; and Dr. Nicoleta Acatrinei, who works with an old friend, David Miller, at the Princeton University Faith & Work Initiative). Check out their website.