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Faith at Work

January 19, 2012 by  
Filed under Books, Dan Burke, Resources

Dear Friends, The following interview is from a friend that I made at my recent appearance on EWTN’s Journey Home program. Kevin Lowry’s book Faith and Work is a great read and has a few interesting points to make with respect to the kind of thing we discuss here at Catholic Spiritual Direction. Kevin agreed to provide us with a bit more insight into his motivation and perspective on living out our faith in the workplace. Enjoy!

Q: What motivated you to write your book Faith at Work?

In some ways, it was more “who” than “what.” My dad was a big influence. When I was a kid, he was a Presbyterian minister with a Ph.D. in business. He spent time in academia, the ministry, and as an entrepreneur – he and my uncle owned a technology firm back in the 80s. So talk around the dinner table frequently concerned faith and work. When I entered the working world after college (a CPA firm), I was well on my way to becoming Catholic. It soon became clear that challenges to the faith in the workplace were enormous, with rampant secularism and poorly formed consciences among some organizational leaders. 

With challenge comes opportunity, and I became convinced that in practical terms, the opportunities for spiritual growth in the workplace were even more significant. Living the Christian virtues in the workplace is a powerful concept – if we could all do it just a little bit better, it would cause a revolution of holiness. When we seek to sanctify our work, people benefit – both ourselves and others – and the Holy Spirit can use our successes and failures to accomplish what I like to call an “infinite multiplier effect.” 

 In a practical sense, living our faith in the workplace can also increase our job satisfaction, enhance effectiveness, improve workplace relationships and teamwork… the benefits are incredible. 

Q: In the chapter on “Get Me off of this Roller Coaster” you mention the value of a “plan of life” and how it can help us to integrate faith, family, and work. Can you tell us a bit about this idea?

Yes, this is one that I never seem to perfect, but continue to strive towards. A “plan of life” can sound a little daunting, but it’s really a process of prioritizing certain practices and incorporating them into our everyday routines. It’s not meant to be overly structured, but rather to ensure that we keep our lives Christ-centered, saying “yes” to His plan every step of the way. So things like quiet prayer in the morning, frequent reception of the Eucharist and penance, scripture or other spiritual reading, the rosary, etc. Just as with any relationship, an investment of time is absolutely necessary.

From a practical standpoint, our lives are dynamic, often with many ups and downs each day. There are joys, troubles, minor annoyances, successes, and major tragedies – all going on simultaneously. To think we can function in our various roles with no overlap is just plain silly. When Kathi and I had our seventh child, he had major medical problems that eventually caused me to make a career change. It had nothing to do with what was going on at the office. Instead, God used the situation to speak to us, and to challenge us to re-assess our priorities. Ordering our lives around God helps us to put our faith in Him completely, and to trust Him regardless of where life is headed next. 

Q: How is this idea working now in your own life? What does it look like for you on a daily, monthly, or even yearly basis?

Here’s an excerpt from the book on that topic:

Here’s an example of a pretty good day, at least for me. First, I get up right away and go running (physical exercise is another very important thing!). Afterward, I have prayer time, along with some Scripture reading. Then I get ready for work.

During my commute, I pray the Rosary and offer up my day’s work. In addition, I pray for any particularly difficult situations and ask for the grace to act with love and wisdom. When I get to work, I may pray over my workload and ask for God’s help setting priorities and getting things done on time. At noon, I might duck out for Mass or catch lunch with a friend or coworker.

Throughout the day, I’ll say an occasional prayer asking for God’s help, especially when things are crazy. At the end of the day, I’ll pray prayers of thanksgiving for the things that went well, and I’ll ask for assistance with those that didn’t. If I’m lucky, it will be Friday night, and I’ll have a date with my wife. Then we’ll spend time with our children, playing cards, saying a decade of the Rosary, and maybe watching a movie.

The most important part of my day is prayer, whether I feel like it or not. I must admit that I’m struggling a bit with my physical exercise (running) right now, and not putting in the kind of mileage I should. However, I’m a huge fan of the rosary, and making it to daily Mass whenever possible. During my conversion process, I used to drag poor Kathi and our infant children out of Mass early (before communion, which I couldn’t yet receive) because I had such a strong desire for the Eucharist. Twenty years later, this is still huge. I’m also a fan of the sacrament of reconciliation.

I believe it’s important to have written goals, so I tend to do this personally from a number of different perspectives – spiritual, family, health, financial, career, etc. Nothing elaborate, just simple, practical stuff. “Write the book already” was one from last year. This type of ongoing planning and prioritizing really works.

Q: One of the key principals to acquiring prudence or wisdom is to seek counsel from others. You reflect a bit on this idea in Chapter 10 on the topic of mentors and spiritual direction. Can you talk a bit about why we need spiritual direction and how it can benefit us as we seek to lead our families (current and future) and grow in grace?

In my experience, spiritual direction is essential to growth, since it provides objectivity. In addition, it’s great for peace of mind! Left to our own devices, we’re way too prone to fickle emotions or outside influences that may or may not be helpful. One of my weaknesses is the tendency to over-think certain decisions, and sometimes this can result in “analysis paralysis.” I’ve gotten better, but it still happens sometimes. Spiritual direction can break this kind of circular thinking.

Spiritual directors know our strengths and weaknesses, understand our struggles, and have some distance between themselves and the situations in which we find ourselves embroiled. Besides all that, to the extent that they’re properly trained and faithful, they also become tremendous conduits of grace. My spiritual director is Fr. Ray Ryland, a former Episcopalian minister who is also the Chaplain for CHNI. He has been a gift beyond price to me for many years.

In addition to spiritual direction, wise counsel can often be had from mentors or others who can be much more familiar with the nuances of certain situations and therefore bring another useful perspective. It’s important to be careful in selecting these types of  confidants, obviously, and we need to respect proper authority and channels within organizations. I tell a story in the book about a trusted colleague with a Human Resources background who really helped me through a difficult situation involving the termination of several employees. It was excruciating, but his counsel was invaluable.

Q: Where can folks find your book?

Anywhere where books are sold. Signed copies are available at http://gratefulconvert.com/ with free shipping, or you can visit your local Catholic bookstore, www.osv.com or www.amazon.com. Thanks Dan, I hope this book helps encourage people to find greater purpose in their work, and for organizations to become ever more faithful and effective!

 

More About Kevin:

Kevin Lowry is a writer and speaker on topics including faith, work, finances, and conversion. He spent twenty years in secular financial and executive-management roles, and currently serves as chief operating officer of The Coming Home Network International. Kevin and his wife Kathi are converts to the Catholic faith and have eight children. Kevin blogs at gratefulconvert.com and recently wrote a fantastic book called Faith at Work: Finding Purpose Beyond the Paycheck.

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About Dan Burke

Dan is the founder of Catholic Spiritual Direction, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, and author of the award winning book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God. Beyond his “contagious” love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband and father of four, the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN’s National Catholic Register, a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer and speaker who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN’s Journey Home program and numerous radio programs. If you have an interest in having Dan come speak at your parish or Catholic event or group, contact us at rcspiritualdirection@gmail.com or call 818-646-7729.

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  • judeen

    i love to hear of smooth lives, that they go well ….
      for me – putting God in my life in prayer is a stuggle.. consitation and organization is my weak points.. reading liturgy of hrs.. is nice but cant seem to keep it going. rosarys are said by praying for different people on each bead to help me to finish thefull rosary.. being with people , is hard yet I look for the grumpy , too quite, or angry.. to smile and touch them to be their freind to bring out their gifts and calm them . so on… this is my prayer to God.. I start the day with the divine praises. 1st.. then go do what I need to do.. and talk to God from my heart. mass is important ,but If I cant drive that day I watch mass

  • http://rcspiritualdirection.com/blog Mary@42

    Kevin, reading excerpts from your Book reveals a truly blessed man of God. I have no doubt the Holy Spirit will  touch all those who will read your Book and draw them even closer to God than ever before.  And thank you, Dan. We look forward to reading more of the “Journey Home” Testimonies…..to all of them I say…..Welcome Home….with Love, Granny Mary !!!!!

  • Clare Northern

    One of THE MOST important parts of your day is Prayer with your Wife. I’m amazed at how little Our Sacrament of Marriage is practiced. You and your wife took a VOW. You are in a sense Vowed Religious-Others married to Christ and His Church. Religious Sisters state ,they are the Bride of Christ. 
    ah the practice of the Sacrament in Marriage- entails EVERYTHING but the essential part-PRAYER with your spouse. Sunday Mass- it’s Community worship,and there is Family worship- Rosary. Ah the dreaded praying with your spouse! It would have been nice to read- despite raising seven children in today’s world and my work- I still find the time to pray with my spouse to strengthen our Intimacy in our Marriage and our Intimacy with the Lord in it.
    When we speak on Marriage we always say only 0.1% of all Catholic Marriages engage in Couple Prayer. And we wonder what is happening to Catholic Marriages today.
    I’ll leave you with this LASTING thought. You might just find -on the other side- you were given the greatest Spiritual Director- your Spouse- and never saw it.

  • sue

    Judeen: I think that to make the angry, grumpy, and quiet folks smile is a wonderful “way” to pray.   The workplace is a tough place to be.  I couldn’t have survived it without prayer.  

    • judeen

      God blesses us when we love one another.. to see theHoly Spirit work in just a touch or kind word to someone having a bad day.. is such a blessing.. even people will say , why are you kind to me – i do not know you…. and tell a mean grumpy person you would like to get to know them , so 1 could learn all the gifts they have.. it takes them back.. surprized . love is our weapon and prayer – to change the world

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kevin-Lowry/100002047021117 Kevin Lowry

    Dan, thanks so much for posting this interview! Granny Mary, thank you too for your kind comments. Writing this book was a privilege, and it’s gratifying to see the Holy Spirit use it to touch hearts. Grace and peace!

    Kevin

    • Anonymous

      You bet Kevin – it is a great book and love your work at Coming Home Network. Thanks for all you do.

  • Anonymous

    Dear Clare – I bet you will appreciate these posts on marriage spirituality. I like all that you are encouraging to, however, I personally don’t believe we can be a spiritual director for our spouses. We can help them a great deal but spiritual direction is something very specific that would be a challenge when there is so little objectivity possible… Here’s the link. http://rcspiritualdirection.com/blog/topical-series-and-resources-on-the-spiritual-life/marriagespirituality

    • Clare Northern

       Have you ever made a Marriage Encounter Weekend?

      • Anonymous

        No I haven’t. Though I have heard great things about it.

    • Anonymous

      The way I’ve heard this is that family…..including spouses are our equalivent of the “Hair Shirt”  :)

      SO TRUE!!  I’m sure my husband would agree!!

      That said……family does help to form us…that’s what I got from Clare’s comment.  Though I agree with you about spouses not truly being director’s of the others’ soul.

    • judeen

      one has to stand stronge in marraige to over come the others influence not to pray… also even when the couple is praying all the time – the devil will attack the other through the spouce.. – goody 2 shoes, Holyer than thou… so on… this is scripture… the Holy Spirit is stronge.. and the devil is mad.. one has to let go , of who is talking and pray