Over the last few months during my hiatus from “official” pastoral ministry, I have had the opportunity to hold two part-time jobs. I am working on the Residence Life staff at MTSO, the seminary from which I graduated in May. My other employer is a well-known cleaning company where I am a customer service rep in their national call center. During my first few weeks at the second job, I did my work and kept to myself with only surface interactions with my co-workers. In the past several weeks, however, people have learned that I am a pastor and have started sharing pieces of their lives with me – joys, sorrows, pains, deepest hurts – and have requested that I pray for them and their families. Though I am not there in any official ministerial role, pastoral ministry is my vocation no matter who issues my paychecks. J
A few weeks ago, one of the supervisors asked me if I would come to the office on Monday mornings (not one of my work days/times) to pray with her and to anoint the center. For the last three Mondays I have met her at 7:30am to pray for those whose challenging circumstances are known to us as well as pray for all employees to be their best selves in their relationships with each other and our customers. I cannot say yet whether this practice has made a difference for those with whom we work, but I do know that time spent in prayer is never wasted.
Research indicates that patients who pray heal quicker than those who do not. Given these findings, I would speculate that employees who pray are more productive than those who do not, though I do not have any data to support such a claim at this point. I want to be clear, however, that I do not think that employees who pray are given some magic formula for productivity or that God favors them more than employees who do not pray. I could never support such a claim, but I do think that employees who pray are more grounded and centered which positively affects their productivity and overall well-being.
This new weekly ritual has prompted me to think about prayer and spirituality in the workplace: what is appropriate? what is the best way to initiate such a practice? who should initiate it? what, if any, kind of framework or guidelines should be used? how should it be structured so no one feels excluded and people of all faiths feel welcome? should there be one gathering or several to address the individual faith traditions of employees? how should this opportunity be communicated to employees? should supervisors and/or managers be involved? if so, what level of involvement is appropriate for them (i.e., leader vs. participant)? should this be done on company time or relegated to employees’ own time (breaks, lunches, or before/after work)? I have been pondering these questions and would welcome others’ questions and perspectives on this practice. I am very interested in looking at prayer in the workplace from a wholeness perspective – where people integrate prayer and spirituality into every aspect of their lives including their employment.
So, faithful blog readers, please consider this post as an invitation to conversation about this topic. I would love to hear from you.
Until next time, peace …