#133 – Integrity Idea 007: Personal Prayer

ESSENCE:  From time to time, we are devoting posts to describing specific actions a faithful leader can consider in leading faithfully through business a better way.  We are calling these Integrity Ideas.  

INTEGRITY IDEA: Personal Prayer

COVERT-OVERT CONTINUUM (six Continuums for action):  Prayer

COVERT-OVERT RATING (several levels from Highly Covert to Highly Overt):  Very Covert

STAKEHOLDERS SERVED: Employees, Customers/Clients, Owners, Suppliers/Vendors, Community, Kingdom

Most Integrity Ideas are practical actions that will begin to Re-Align the organization with Biblical beliefs, principles and priorities.  “Personal Prayer” is about a leader praying privately for the organization, for its owners, employees, customers, vendors and community, and for wisdom and guidance in every decision. Personal Prayer is essential in equipping faithful leaders to face the spiritual challenges of leading an organization faithfully through business a better way in a fallen world dominated by business as usual.  The same God who calls leaders to lead faithfully through business a better way will be present to guide, equip and protect those who are called. “Personal Prayer” should be the very first Integrity Idea implemented by a faithful leader wishing to lead faithfully.

From time to time, we are devoting posts to describing specific actions a leader can consider during the Re-Align step of Integriosity®–actions that will begin to Re-Align the organization with Biblical beliefs, principles and priorities.  We are calling these “Integrity Ideas“.

We usually say that some Integrity Ideas will feel like a good fit, and others will not, and that the choice should be based on which approach is best for stewarding the organization toward its WHY.  That is not the case for “Personal Prayer”.  It should be done by all faithful leaders all the time–no exceptions!

INTEGRITY IDEA: Personal Prayer

“Personal Prayer” is about a leader praying privately for the organization, for its owners, employees, customers, vendors and community, and for wisdom in every decision.

The importance of “Personal Prayer” in faithfully leading an organization seems so obvious that some may say “do you really need an Integrity Idea on this topic?”  But “Personal Prayer” is so important to faithfully leading an organization that the answer is “YES!”

A reminder for “Personal Prayer” is necessary because unfortunately many faithful leaders do not associate God with organizational decisions.  Oswald Chambers observed:

In spiritual issues it is customary for us to put God first, but we tend to think that it is inappropriate and unnecessary to put Him first in the practical, everyday issues of our lives.

Chambers warns “Don’t plan without God. . . . We get ourselves into circumstances that were not chosen by God, and suddenly we realize that we have been making our plans without Him—that we have not even considered Him to be a vital, living factor in the planning of our lives.

Dr. Skip Moen goes so far as to assert that prayer is required to Humanize us–it is required to move us toward God’s design rather than our own self-made design.  If one of the three bigger WHY’s for an organization is to Humanize People, how can faithful leaders faithfully move the organization toward that goal if they aren’t themselves becoming more fully human through “Personal Prayer”?  If the goal of leading faithfully through business a better way is to move the organization toward God’s design rather than the world’s design of business as usual, how can leaders hope to succeed without Personal Prayer”?

I can move toward God’s design innately implanted in me, or I can move away from His design, forging a self-made creature fashioned by lesser purposes.  I am equipped to manifest God’s design.  He has insured that I lack nothing necessary for this project.  But accomplishing the task of becoming human requires a continual connection to the Maker. . . .  Therefore, prayer . . . is the absolutely necessary ingredient for being what God intended.  The man who does not pray will soon not be a man.

If Chambers and Moen are not convincing enough, the Bible is full of guidance on the topic of leaders seeking (or failing to seek) God’s guidance.  Here are just a few:

But they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in their own counsels and the stubbornness of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward. (Jeremiah 7:24)

For the shepherds are stupid and do not inquire of the Lord; therefore they have not prospered, and all their flock is scattered. (Jeremiah 10:21)

And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left. (Isaiah 30:21)

CONTINUUM: Prayer

The Integriosity model organizes “heart change” along six Covert-Overt Continuums.  There is nothing magic about these categories, but we believe they are helpful in thinking about practical execution of a Re-Imagined Purpose, Re-Imagined Values and a Re-Imagined Culture.  The Continuums are Prayer, Proclamation, Policies, Practices, Products, People.

Each Continuum represents an area in which leaders can begin to think about, plan and institute Re-Alignment changes to the heart of the organization.

“Personal Prayer” is obviously on the Prayer Continuum.  The Prayer Continuum should also be the very first one addressed by faithful leaders pursuing leading faithfully through business a better way, because “Personal Prayer” will facilitate the heart-change in leaders needed to RENEW their understanding of God’s purpose for work and business, it will guide how those leaders RE-IMAGINE the Purpose, Values and Culture of the organization, and it will guide how they address and implement RE-ALIGNMENT along the other five Continuums.

COVERT-OVERT RATING: Very Covert

The Integriosity model breaks the Covert-Overt Continuums into six gradations–from Highly Covert to Highly Overt–that we believe are helpful in beginning to pray and think about what is most appropriate for an organization at a particular moment in time.

Most Integrity Ideas will have one place on the scale.  Some can vary depending on how they are implemented.

“Personal Prayer” is Very Covert (an overtly faith-based action known only to the faithful leader).  In future posts we will examine other more overt spots along the Prayer Continuum.

STAKEHOLDERS SERVED: Employees, Customers/Clients, Owners, Suppliers/Vendors, Community, Kingdom

When we categorize faith-based actions, we also consider the stakeholders principally impacted by the action: Employees, Customers/Clients, Owners, Suppliers/Vendors, Community and Kingdom.  “Personal Prayer” serves all those prayed for and all those touched by the organization–Employees, Customers/Clients, Owners, Suppliers/Vendors, and Community.

As a faithful leader leads faithfully through prayer, the example set by the leader and the organization in the way the leader leads and the organization conducts business in alignment with God’s design and guidance also impacts God’s Kingdom because they are, in the words of N.T. Wright, “building for” God’s Kingdom (as we explained in much more detail back in post #051–Where Are We Going–We Have a Role):

What you do in the present—by painting, preaching, singing, sewing, praying, teaching, building hospitals, digging wells, campaigning for justice, writing poems, caring for the needy, loving your neighbor as yourself—will last into God’s future. These activities are not simply ways of making the present life a little less beastly, a little more bearable, until the day when we leave it behind altogether. They are part of what we may call building for God’s kingdom.

Don’t plan without God. (Oswald Chambers)

IMPLEMENTATION

Implementing “Personal Prayer” is the easiest, the least expensive and the most important of all our Integrity Ideas.

In post #091 (Trust in God), we explored three types of challenges that will be faced by a faithful leader committed to leading faithfully through business a better way.  In each case, a leader will be facing those challenges with both hands tied behind their back (and possibly blindfolded with their feet bound) without seeking God’s guidance, protection and provision through prayer.

Although these challenges may come in the form of human resistance and resistance from worldly systems, the Bible tells us that these challenges are spiritual:

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.  (Ephesians 6:12)

We identified these challenges as resistance, dilemmas and risks.

• Resistance.  Resistance to faithfully leading an organization through business a better way will come because it challenges the “given structures of the social order” in a fallen world of business as usual characterized by assumptions of Profit as Purpose, Scarcity and Self-Interest.  With Personal Prayer, God can break through that resistance.

• Dilemmas.  Because an organization is operating in a fallen world, there may not be “easy answers” to organizational challenges–leaders are likely to be faced with choices that involve two imperfect alternatives.  Through “Personal Prayer”, God can provide creative “third-way” solutions to dilemmas, such as reconciling business a better way with profitable sustainability in the world’s systems.

• Risks.  Risks are necessary when facing resistance and resolving dilemmas in line with Biblical beliefs, values and priorities.  Through “Personal Prayer”, God’s favor can protect leaders and organizations facing such risks.

Through “Personal Prayer”, leaders can face resistance, dilemmas and risks with the promise in Ephesians 4:7: “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds.”  In his book Why Business Matters to God, Jeff Van Duzer rightly suggests that the same God who calls leaders to lead faithfully through business a better way will be present to equip those who are called:

We are not expected to fulfill the creation and redemption mandates in business relying solely on our own wisdom, judgment and perseverance. The same God who calls us to these high standards provides us with access to the discernment and power that will enable us to fulfill them.

In case you are wondering “when” to pray as a faithful leader leading faithfully through business a better way, look no further than 1 Thessalonians 5:17 “Pray without ceasing“–but you knew that one!

PERSONAL NOTE (from PM):   I shared a story about prayer recently.  One of the New Canaan Society brothers I shared it with sent me a text that said “Still thinking about that baseball story – it’s more than a little incredible.  You should tell people about that more often.”  Well, here it is.

Our family was on vacation in Chatham, MA.  One evening, we decided to go to a Chatham A’s baseball game.  My son (who was probably 6 or 7 at the time) really wanted a foul ball and I was determined to try my best to get one for him.  After a few innings, our kids got bored with the game and wanted to go to a playground that was on the first base side of the field but set back from the field.  My wife took them there, and I spent a few more innings along the first base line waiting, praying and hoping for a foul ball.

Eventually, I gave up, went to the playground and sat on a bench with my back to the field.  I continued to pray, asking God for a baseball for my son. All of a sudden, I heard cries of “LOOK OUT!”  A foul ball was heading for the playground full of children.  The ball whizzed over my head, hit a playground slide 10 feet in front of me and then slowly rolled toward me, stopping in-between my feet.  The Father delivered so that His son could deliver for his son.  Below is an aerial photo of the field and the playground–the site of the “miracle”.

I believe in the power of “Personal Prayer”.

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Photo Credit: Original photo by Juan Marin on Unsplash (photo cropped)