Faith in Organizations

At an OD discussion list, there is an exchange going on about whether or not it's appropriate to consider religion and spirituality when working with organizations. Are they germane to the practice of OD?

I am a faith-filled person who also practices OD (I am an internal consultant for a natural gas utility in New Jersey).

I find that most of the people I work with are also faith-filled, whatever their faith may be.

But where does their faith enter into their organizational lives? From what I've experienced, it seems that most make a separation. While it is not unusual to see someone wear a symbol of their faith (e.g. a crucifix on a chain worn around the neck), it is very unusual to find faith entering into a business decision.

So where does faith fit into our work as OD folk? Speaking just for myself (though I know some other ODers who have a similar outlook), since my faith is a major part of who I am as a person, it comes with me when I work with my clients. Do I "wear it on my sleeve?" No. But it informs my practice.

For example, part of my faith is the belief that all individuals are gifted with talents ("God does not make junk."). From this belief, I endeavor to operate with a focus on discovery of gifts, and appreciation and utilization of talents.

I also believe that all individuals posses a share of the wisdom required to discern the right course of action when faced with a difficult quandary. As I work with groups, I try to follow the approach articulated by Sr. Mary Benet McKinney in her book Sharing Wisdom, where she says that each member of the group has a "piece of the wisdom" that the group needs to hear in order to discern the "calling of the Spirit."

As the son of a Jewish mom and a Christian dad, who was raised with a set of values and expectations that I am now passing on to my sons (two teenaged boys, one a 6 footer who towers above me), I feel blessed, like I received the "best of both worlds" in the Judeo-Christian heritage.

However, in today's world, where the West is slamming head-on with the Muslim world, I feel uneasy and ill-prepared for the collision of cultures.

Yet, I wonder if the following wisdom will stand us in good stead:

- Love your neighbor as yourself.

- Do justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly with your God.


Brendon said…
What a great post...nothing to add in the comments here, just wanted to tell you I appreciated it.
Terrence said…
Thanks Brendon.

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