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Monday, January 29, 2018

The Power of Flourishing

While still months away, I recommend you consider attending the annual Acton University event in Grand Rapids this June. They descibe it as a “four-day exploration of the intellectual foundations of a free society” and “an opportunity to deepen your knowledge and integrate philosophy, theology, business, development––with sound market based, economics.”

That sounds heady and overly academic but I find their sessions powerful and practical. A long time friend, Dr. Paul Bonicelli, serves at the Acton Institute as Director of Programs and Education. He’s involved with a number of events around the country during the year centered around various themes.

An Acton event to be presented March 5th in La Jolla, California, is titled, “Toward a Free and Virtuous Society: Foundations for Flourishing.” The concept expands by asking, “How does our view of the human person, theology, economics, and government affect our approach to poverty?” This has very strong implications for the workplace.

As one example, I’ll cite a historical reference from the blog, “Work and Human Flourishing,” published March 20, 2015, by Ann Heekin. She notes, “Desert fathers and mothers of Christianity of the 4th century take the biblical foundations on work to new spiritual heights. These monastics understood a natural rhythm of work and prayer as compatible ways to entering the presence of God.”

Heekin quotes medieval historian Patricia Ranft who states, “Work in all its numerous forms and types is the means by which humanity maintains its relationship with the world, and, as such, work is the means by which humans fulfill their potential to become one with the sacred.”

This underscores that our work has much greater importance in life than we generally give it. When seeing our work in the larger picture of human flourishing, it brings a powerful challenge to the way we should manage and direct our efforts.

A practical application of this comes from Al Lopus. Al is the president and co-founder of the Best Christian Workplaces Institute. ( A couple of years ago he blogged on “8 Factors of a Flourishing Workplace.”

The list was developed from the BCWI research to help ministry organizations. But it’s obviously practical for any business as well. Here are the eight factors with edited comments:

1. Fantastic Teams. These teams engage in passionate dialogue around issues, resolve conflict, and strive for excellence in what they do. They are competent in their work areas and across department lines.

2. Life-Giving Work. Work is inspirational when staff are devoted to their role, and are able to utilize their skills and spiritual gifts to their fullest.

3. Outstanding Talent. Flourishing organizations recruit and retain high quality talent, promote those who are most capable, and reward their top performers.

4. Uplifting Growth and Development. This element measures supervisory competence and compassion, the quality of performance feedback, recognition, and the opportunity to learn and grow.

5. Rewarding Compensation. This includes fair compensation and employee satisfaction with their medical, retirement, and paid-time-off benefits.

6. Inspirational Leadership. This measures the authenticity of leaders who live with integrity, exhibit humility and compassion, are transparent, and create high levels of trust in the organization.

7. Sustainable Strategy. These organizations have an effective or winning strategy for meeting the needs of those they serve in a high quality way.

8. Healthy Communication. Communication is “real” when staff experience managers listening to their suggestions and acting on them. Where staff feel free to voice their opinions, diversity is evident and they are encouraged to innovate.

Want a flourishing workplace where your team performs with passion and excellence? Apply Al Lopus’ list.

And consider this…“the godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon. For they are transplanted to the Lord’s own house. They flourish in the courts of our God.” (Psalm 92:12-13, NLT).

That is a bonus worth pursuing!

That’s The Way WE Work. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

Let’s Talk with Mark Elfstrand can be heard weekdays from 4-6 PM Central. To listen outside the Chicago area, tune to for live streaming or podcasts, or download the AM1160 app.

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