Every year I teach a graduate course or two on integrating our faith into our practice as caregivers, professionals, leaders or business people. Often the students go through three phases. First they want cookbook-type models for “doing integration.” I argue that each case is unique and that no one model fits everybody. This leads students to confusion and frustration because they’re not getting easy answers. Eventually they reach a stage of relief and freedom when they realize that integration comes out of who we are rather than from what we do or from which model or methods we seek to apply. I also give these general guidelines for integrating faith and practice:
- Focus consistently on your own spiritual growth and relationship with Jesus Christ.
- Be aware of the values, expectations and worldviews that you reflect in your life and bring into your work.
- Consistently draw on your training including your clinical, coaching or intervention skills. Integration is much more likely and effective if you demonstrate and keep growing in competence.
- Consistently draw on your biblical and theological knowledge. It is not likely that you will be an effective integrator if you are biblically illiterate, ill informed theologically or insensitive to spiritual issues in yourself or your clients.
- Post your values and procedures with clients if possible. Let them know in advance where you are coming from.
- Know your employer’s expectations and assumptions. Is it appropriate, forbidden or expected that you will mention God in your work?
- Seek to know your client’s assumptions and expectations about what will come from your work together.
- Be aware of the environments where each client lives and works. What is his or her culture? What family dynamics and social trends shape each client and shape you as well.
- Consult regularly with a respected supervisor, consultant or colleague.
- Consistently seek the Holy Spirit’s. This is of crucial importance.
What would you add to this list of guidelines? Please click “comment” to share your conclusions with the rest of us.