Shut Up and Start Using Your Spiritual Imagination

Shut Up and Start Using Your Spiritual Imagination February 21, 2011

For years I have been complaining bitterly about the great divide between church and work. I eagerly joined the band of enlightened and indignant comrades in the marketplace whining about the maddening compartmentalization of spiritual and business life; how the church has failed to meet our needs as professionals; how we must redeem the spiritual dignity of work; and generally making a big stink as we desperately sought to locate a culprit to blame.

For the most part this has been a fun hobby, and a good opportunity to channel some pent up frustration. But I am not at all sure that it is ever going to solve anything. It’s not like all of this complaining will suddenly perk up the untapped integration of my own spiritual life into my management job.

Yet, there is an ongoing tension in reconciling the genuine person of faith with the guy who shows up in your office every day for work. Many find it difficult to meld the spiritual and work life together. But I, for one, am resolved to turning a corner.

Good ladies and gentlemen, I am starting to think this lack of connection is our own fault, and the responsibility sits squarely on the shoulders of each one of us. The problem comes down simply to this:

We lack spiritual imagination.

That’s right. If you have a problem figuring out how God fits into your work, or your career, or your business enterprise, then maybe, just maybe, you are being lazy.

Because God is present everywhere, including your dingy office cubicle. You either believe it, or you don’t. It’s just a matter of us recognizing the obvious, and making it manifest. But guess what? It’s not going to happen by sitting around doing nothing, or passively waiting for the chaplain to show up while you light up another cigarette.

You’ve got to use your mind to tap into that spiritual imagination of yours, to look and to see your work in a new light.

So, ye soldiers of faith in the workplace, get over ye-selves. Enough with all the theological hand-wringing, and let’s get busy finding God. Let him in on your messy work situations. Think about it. Pray about it. Imagine it. Let His divine essence lather all over your career.

Stop waiting for someone to show you what to do, and how about you be the one to figure it out?

It may not look all holy and sacred-ish, the way you think it should. That’s because you’ve been brainwashed into thinking that God has to be all holified and stained-glassed in order to be any good to you. Well, that’s not true. Because God is in the blood and mess of our bodies. He’s also in the executive suite and on the plant floor.

He’s in the coffee maker, and the vending machine snack.

He’s in the spreadsheets and the power lunch.

He’s in the corporate politics and the corporate jet.

He’s in the mistakes you make, and the mess you have to clean up afterwards.

He’s in the lost sale, and the mega-bonus.

He’s in that assinine co-worker, and the irritated customer.

He’s on the conference call and in the Board presentation.

He’s in the cash flow statement and the lawsuit you’re fighting.

He’s in the competitor who’s eating your lunch.

He’s in the mountain of paperwork and on the corporate website.

He’s in your next promotion, and the years of not knowing.

Wherever your station, whatever it is you are doing, you are with God, and he is part of your work life. Which makes it holy and purposeful and full of grace and of great potential for doing good.

And if you are having trouble seeing it, work a little harder at using your spiritual imagination.

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  • Fascinating post, Brad – I particularly like this part:

    “It may not look all holy and sacred-ish, the way you think it should. That’s because you’ve been brainwashed into thinking that God has to be all holified and stained-glassed in order to be any good to you. Well, that’s not true. Because God is in the blood and mess of our bodies”

    I am constantly running around that holified, stained-glassed God-idea as I try to move forward in my own business. Thanks for making me think. LOL – so if I can find that imagination behind my brain fog, I’ll be doing good, right? 😉

  • I borrow a thought from Ann Voskamp — where we are most apt to find God (including the workplace) is not in the big mega-events but in the daily — the common stuff we experience every day — the coffee maker, the spreadsheets, the politics, the mistakes, the lost sale, the conference call, the competitor and all the rest you list. That’s where he is, and that’s where he wants us to live who we are.

  • Awesome post. So many people aren’t really being fully utilized at work, because they sit in a cubicle, or do some other menial work. But they stay because the money is good. It’s hard to meld that sometimes soul-crushing environment with spirituality which is supposed to make souls live. I am so grateful for all the people who do the work I am simply unable to do or tolerate, and those people need to be ministered to more effectively.

  • Sacred-ish and holified. Most excellent word choices here! You’re right–every place I set my foot is holy ground if God is present and cares about redeeming all of creation, both of which I believe to be true. I’m not always sure about how God wants to use me in his redemptive work, but need frequent reminders that He does. Then I need to start paying attention to what’s going on.

  • I read this post in Google Reader and have marked it as unread so I can reread it.

    Love these thoughts!

  • You definitely wag when you bark. Go Bradley! Woof. I’m hearing it as a deep authoritative spanking sort of growl. Preach it, brother. 🙂 Imaginations are highly under rated.

  • Scripture clearly instructs us to glorify God in all that we do, remembering that it is Him we serve rather than men. We are to pray without ceasing and to give thanks in everything.

    When I read Brother Lawrence 20 years ago, he inspired me to think differently about practicing the presence of God.

    Yes, it is possible. I have done it, and I have forgotten to do it and run in my flesh.

    Here’s the reality: God is available. He can fill the smallest, most menial labor and sanctify it with his presence. But I must invite him.

    He does not force himself on me.

  • I have a friend who often encourages me in this very way (spiritual imagination). I think I’ll take your “He’s in…” list around with me today and see how I can add to it. ‘Cause I sure don’t want to be counted among the lazy.

  • LOVE this! Calvin is in an interview as I type this.

    My imagination is running wild!

    Bebo Norman sings a song about this: “I am” it is called. “I am where you cannot be…”

  • God is in the asshole co-worker. Can you imagine how the world would change if we really believed that?

    • Do I really have to believe that Marcus! How do I know it’s not the Devil (half kidding — but half serious)!

  • i’m seeing a movie idea… “the big stink”

    now, THAT would be a good movie. just think…it can star a business man

    played by richard gere or maybe hugh laurie…

    all about him making a big stink and then turning the corner…


    i like how you “zero in” on our own eyes and heart and mind,

    and how we can allow ourselves to see the omnipresent attribute of God.

    i also like how you listed the pleasant as well as the not so pleasant examples

    of where God is.

    i would like to turn this corner as well.


    i like the photo with this article…good match.

  • Ok, Ok, this is just too simple. But I like it. Simple is good right now. And I am totally with you. We need to take the responsibility here and stop blaming the church. We are the church!

  • This makes me smile. Just the title is all jacked up. And my favorite was the sacred-ish and holified part too. This. is. a call. to action!

  • Awesome Bradley! Printing it out as I type this.

    Coworkers and customers are one thing, but the corporate jet and lawsuits? Big shots need to fly places. Justice needs to be served to the greatest extent possible. I struggle to shake thoughts of unnecessary extravagance, of villinious, ill-inious lies and red tape.