Gary’s Newsletter #399 – Careers and Christianity

The church where I grew up assumed that the most committed believers would spend their lives doing “the Lord’s work” as missionaries or pastors. I wonder what those church leaders thought when I went into psychology? I’ve been pondering this for two reasons. First, this is Labor Day weekend in Canada and the United States, a time to think about work. Second, three new books have appeared, each dealing with the relationship between psychology and Christianity, with how we bring our spiritual beliefs into a secular marketplace.

We’ll begin with the books. Psychology and Christianity: Five Views edited by Eric L. Johnson summarizes the theoretical and sometimes practical conclusions of seven professionals who discuss how Christians “understand and undertake the discipline of psychology.” Glendon L. Moriarty’s Integrating Faith and Psychology, brings together twelve psychologists who tell personal stories about “their spiritual, personal and professional journeys of interrelating their faith and profession.” Everett L. Worthington Jr. takes a different approach in Coming to Peace with Psychology. The book discusses “what Christians can learn from psychological science,” and “what psychological science has to offer theology.”

I’ll recommend these books next week when I begin teaching my annual course on Psychology and Christianity. I’ll remind my class that integrating our faith with our work is a challenge, especially in work places where we’re discouraged from mentioning the name of Jesus. I’ll maintain that in any area, effective integration:

  • Is learned by watching mentors and supervisors, rather than memorizing principles from books.
  • Is expressed by our deeds, attitudes and lifestyles more than in the application of integration methods and models.
  • Reflects who we are even more than what we do.
  • Is least resisted when practitioners are competent in their professions. All of these books show individuals who are knowledgeable, constantly learning and effective in their disciplines.
  • Emerges from individuals who have solid biblical-theological knowledge and who seek to be guided by the Holy Spirit.
  • Is best when counselors and other professionals consult regularly with respected supervisors and colleagues.

Please leave a comment telling us how you integrate (and the integration books you recommend).

3 Comments

  1. Great list. Seems to work in many areas of interacting with people who do not understand the belief system that you bring to the table.
    I integrate by respecting what the world brings to the table and then realize that there is an added dimension that is not understood. It is this spiritual -Christian- component that I can add and make a more complete picture.
    Where there is a conflict of ideas or conclusions I then assume two things:
    1) I have incomplete understanding and need to be careful with the conclusions I draw.
    2) I have a standard of Truth that bears on the situation and that I need to be careful that I don’t live in a either/or world but that there might be a both/and situation.
    The longer I live the more flexible I become. I just wish the same was true with my body.

    Reply

  2. I couldn’t agree with you more, Gary. I’ve always emphasized to my inquiring clients how that being a Christian Counselor is a dynamic and ongoing process. It’s one that incorporates all those things you have just mentioned and begins in the heart of the dedicated, Spiritually alive, and sensitive Christian professional–i.e., sensitive to both the client and to the “wee small voice” of the Spirit of God whispering within him or her.

    Thanks for being there and doing what you’ve obviously been called to do.

    Dick

    Reply

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