“Why is it that when we talk to God we’re said to be praying, but when God talks to us we’re schizophrenic?” – Lily Tomlin
As you know, I address a lot of issues in my “Tuesday Tips,” but they’re all related to peak performance. I try to give you the skills and strategies that will help you succeed in your work, your relationships, and your life.
But no topic may be more controversial than today’s topic. After all, the news media makes fun of anything that smacks of “religion,” and there are millions of people who insist that everything has to be “politically correct.”
So I find it’s a risk for me to even address the topic of spirituality in the workplace. Some people will send me angry e-mails, and others will drop their subscription to the “Tuesday Tip” when I talk about “such things.” So be it.
I’m not here to preach. I’m here to tell you there’s a quiet revolution going on in business that is getting bottom-line results — even though it deals with the “F” and “P” words.
=> 1. The Power Of The “F” Word: Faith
That became obvious to me when I was speaking to Abbott Laboratories, one of the oldest and finest pharmaceutical companies around. They gave me a copy of their “Technology Futures Report.” It outlined breakthroughs in medical science as well as the predictions of things to come in health care. As they wrote, “It is better to scan for signs of the future than to blindly accept current thinking.”
One of those signs of the future was the connection between faith, medicine, and health. They quoted “Psychosomatic Medicine 1995,” saying, “A study of 232 patients at Dartmouth Medical School found that elderly heart patients were 14 times less likely to die following surgery if they found strength and comfort in their religious FAITH.”
Along similar lines, hospitals and patients are learning they can save lots of money by putting chaplains on their health care teams. It may sound strange, but some hospitals are beginning to recognize that spiritual well-being can be a critical factor in the healing process. The Reverend George Frank, director of pastoral care at Victory Memorial Hospital in Waukegan, Illinois, says, “I don’t think you can separate the physical from the emotional and spiritual. People are whole people. You can’t treat the body without there being spiritual or emotional impact.”
Again, that kind of rhetoric may not be philosophically popular or politically correct. I’m talking facts.
In a two-year study, Dr. Elizabeth McSherry studied 700 coronary patients admitted to the Brockton/West Roxbury (Virginia) Center. The Center dealt with some of the most costly and complicated procedures, such as bypass operations, valve replacements and open heart surgery — in addition to patients undergoing care for heart attacks and chronic heart disease.
The patients were divided into two groups. One group had daily visits by a chaplain. The other group saw a chaplain on an average of three minutes during their entire hospital stay.
The study found that the patients who had the most contact with the chaplains were released from the hospital an average of two days sooner than patients who did not receive regular visits. Dr. McSherry estimated that the cost of the chaplain visits was no more than $100 per patient. But the savings that came from letting a patient go home earlier amounted to $4000 a day. And the group visited by the chaplains also had fewer complications after surgery.
In short, faith paid off. And faith pays off in lots of ways on and off the job.
=> 2. The Practice Of The “P” Word: Prayer
Of course, one of the most powerful ways you can release your faith is through prayer. Dr. Norman Vincent Peale said, “If you expect to solve your personal problems, have peace of mind and release your powers for great living, you must learn the art of prayer. It just won’t come without prayer.”
Dr. Charles Allen also commented on the power of prayer. In his book, “All Things Are Possible With Prayer,” he wrote, “As the disciples saw Jesus pray, they realized it was something quite different from what they had been doing when they prayed … they saw how much time He gave to prayer and what it meant in His own life. They saw Him go into prayer in one mood and come out in another. As a result of His prayers, they saw things become different. To them, prayer had been a FORM but to Christ it was a FORCE.”
Do you have that FORCE in your life? Are you tapping into this source of power? Here are a few things you might want to try.
~~~TRY FRACTIONAL PRAYERS.
Dr. Frank Laubach coined that term. He observed that “Everybody in every ordinary day has hundreds of chunks of little wasted time which may be filled with flash prayers, ten seconds or a minute only.” It may be praying while you wait for the bus, drive to work, eat your lunch, or sit on a telephone hold.
Laubach said, if you do that, “At last, the whole day is as full of little prayers as the sky is full of stars.” And the result of this practice will be a change in your thinking, attitude, and life.
~~~TRY PRESENCE PRAYER.
Just practice God’s presence. Brother Lawrence of the 17th century talked about that. He simply believed that at any hour of the day or night, in whatever circumstance or condition he might be, God was actually there — present with him. God was walking along side him, so Brother Lawrence could talk to Him and ask Him all his questions. The practice brought Brother Lawrence a great deal of peace.
The English poet William Wordsworth practiced a similar habit. He imagined what it would be like to talk to the Lord; what would be the look on His face and the tone of His voice? He said the Lord became so real to him that he actually felt the Master was his close companion and friend.
~~~TRY CARING PRAYER.
Dr. Peale said, “Prayer will not work well for anyone who does not practice forgiveness. If you hold hate or resentment in your heart, the circuit to God is closed.” If you want power to come into your life, you’ve got to let hate out.
I remember one employee who got hold of this principle. He could not get along with his supervisor. In fact, their relationship was so bad that it actually made him sick. So he talked the situation over with his wife.
She quietly asked him, “Why don’t you pray about it?”
“I have prayed about it,” he answered, “I’ve asked God to get him out of my hair.”
“Don’t you know that God doesn’t answer hate prayers?” his wife asked. “Why not try a caring prayer instead?”
“That’s stupid,” he grumbled, “but I’ll do it. I’ve tried everything else!”
It took several days before he really prayed for his supervisor with sincere goodwill, but he did. Then one day his supervisor said to him, “Jason, you seem different. Come into my office and let’s talk over some plans.” And their relationship became a good one.
That’s it. The “F” word and “P” words may not be politically correct — but I’ve dedicated my life to telling you about those things that work. And there’s lots of evidence that these are two things you don’t want to live without.
Action “F” and “P” can be all about FORM or FORCE. Where does your spiritual life tend to fall on that continuum? Are you more about FORM, or are you tapping into the FORCE?