System of Belief or Way of Life


I started reading Brian McLaren’s latest book, “Finding Our Way Again: The Return of the Ancient Practices”. Like many of Brian’s book, it jolted me with amazing challenges. The first one was in the introduction!

Brian tells the story of a time when he was asked to interview Dr. Peter Senge, author of the mega-bestseller, “The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization”. The audience was about 500 Pastors. It seems the night before, Dr. Senge visited a bookstore and found out that spirituality was a hot-selling category. He asked the bookstore employee which books and the answer was Buddhism. As the interview began, Dr. Senge turned the tables and asked the assembled Pastors, “Why are books on Buddhism so popular, and not books on Christianity?” Brian decides to ask Dr. Senge for his answer and he replies, “I think it’s because Buddhism presents itself as a way of life, and Christianity presents itself as a system of belief. So I would want Christian ministers thinking about how to rediscover their own faith as a way of life, because that’s what people are searching for today. That’s what they need most.”

Wow! That absolutely blew me away. Brian goes on to write, “Without a coherent and compelling way of life, formed in community and expressed in mission, some of us begin losing interest in the system of belief, or we begin holding it grimly, even meanly, driving more and more people away from our faith.”

I don’t know about you, but I know this is dead center for me. My faith is fueled by passion, by mission, by trust, by love and a strong feeling of community. When I don’t feel those things, I tend to slip into the mundane and my faith becomes lackadaisical or just another thing to do.

Later, I had a conversation with myself (which I do all the time) and began thinking about work life. Isn’t it true that our work life can be either a system of belief or a way of life? I know when I am working with passion, a sense of mission/vision, a purpose tied to the greater good, and in my area of strengths that my work life is a Way of Life. When I’m not in that zone, I tend to be caught in the System of Belief (which is negative thinking or attitude, drift, worry, etc.). I know I’d rather be in the Way of Life zone.

Now, how about the team? Don’t you think they feel the same way? As leaders we need to keep them in that same zone so they can be not only effective but joyful and sane coworkers.

I don’t have all the answers but I’m committed to making both my faith and my work a Way of Life. How about you? What do you do to stay in the Way of Life zone? How do you motivate or encourage your team to be there? Stay there? I’d like to know.


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Trust is the winsome wedding of faith and hope.

Brennan Manning

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