This is the fifth part of a five-part series of blogs that chronicle the journey of a cohort of business leaders who together pursued deeper relationships with God and the integration of the resulting spiritual transformation in their personal lives into their roles as leaders in their businesses, and ultimately into the culture of their businesses as a whole. More information can be found at http://www.spiritualleadership.com/journeyinfo/. You can read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 at their respective links.
When The Journey drew to a close in June of 2015, lives of individual business leaders and the cultures of their organizations had been changed in profound ways. These leaders had begun this Journey process together in April of 2013 with great anticipation, though unsure of what God actually had in store for them. Reflecting back on the ways God had worked through The Journey, several areas stand out.
The priority of spending extended times of personal communion with God at the beginning of each retreat led to significant experiences of personal healing and transformation. God reached down into the souls of these leaders and touched them in places of deep need in ways they did not know they needed to be touched. As they listened to God and allowed him to pour himself into their lives until their hearts overflowed with his character and grace, that overflow began to spill into the lives of those within their own organizations and even beyond. They were able to serve and lead as expressions of God’s gracious presence and work in their lives.
During his first time of extended solitude with God at The Journey, Jim Seiler, Director of ES Lighting Controls and President of Bremen Financial, heard from God in the depths of his soul for the first time in his life. God’s word to him brought profound emotional healing in some areas of deep need. This in turn led to a willingness to listen to God in other areas of his life. Eventually, at a later Journey retreat, God gave Jim a plan for mentoring young business entrepreneurs in the Dominican Republic and other developing countries. This plan helps these entrepreneurs start businesses and create jobs in their countries. The plan has been successfully and enthusiastically received and implemented in countries such as the Philippines and elsewhere.
Troy Walling, who is President of Red Pallet, Inc., a parcel shipping company, took some of the spiritual practices that he had learned through The Journey and had implemented in his own life, and adapted them for his employees. Twice a day employees take five-minute Time Outs. For the first three minutes they contemplate their hearts and their work by asking where they felt good (unbelievers) or where they experienced God’s gifts (believers). The final two minutes are a time to share briefly with fellow team members how they were led in their contemplation to refocus themselves and their tasks for the next part of the day.
In addition, every employee takes the Gallup StrengthFinders test. Supervisors pray over each employee’s unique profile, assigning these employees roles based on their top five strengths so that they are filling a niche in the company that only they could fill. Troy also encourages his employees to see the service his company provides for his clients as a tangible reflection of Christ’s servant care and helps each employee see their unique part in contributing to this act of service in the world. One agnostic employee reported thinking about God a lot at work, though Troy rarely mentions the name of God at work.
And all of these ideas and practices were spawned in a safe community of likeminded business people. Many of the business leaders in The Journey commented that this community became a spiritual home where they could freely share the unique needs and perspectives of their world with others who could relate to and understand the issues and problems that arise in their environment. The competitiveness and often cutthroat nature of the business world can make it difficult to establish relationships characterized by openness and vulnerability with fellow business leaders. But in The Journey community, these leaders were able to move beyond façades, to share honestly with each other, and to encourage, uplift, and pray for one another. And because of a strong action orientation common among business leaders, these leaders had a powerful inclination toward stimulating one another to good deeds through practical implementation of all God was doing in them and teaching them through The Journey.
Though The Journey retreats for this group of business leaders have come to an end, for most of them The Journey experience continues. Some of them continue to connect regularly and meaningfully with one another. And the transformation that God began in their own hearts and in their businesses is ongoing. Extended times of intimacy with God have become a regular and treasured rhythm. As God continues to pour his love and grace into their lives, the overflow continues to impact the way they lead their own businesses and to open new avenues into ways in which they might use their business skills and contacts to transform the world.