Sunday, September 03, 2006

coming out as Christians

My partner, Chris, and I believe that the stories we tell about ourselves convey more information than we consciously place in them. They are important revelations of how we have integrity, and of what is integrated within us. Much of our work invites people to consider new stories and all the different possibilities they hold.

We talk about the many different reasons why we hold this belief: I frequently refer to business books or psychology books or websites on the power of story and storytelling. I am interested in narrative - including the narratives held in business plans and narrative therapy and narratives in the arts. This is all true, and all well-documented. It is only part of our story.

When I met Chris, I was in the process of being certified as a candidate for the Presbyterian ministry. After one year of study towards my Master of Divinity degree, I came to a decision that God was calling me in a different direction. I began to work with Chris at NLP Canada Training. I came to this decision because Chris is also a devout Christian, and God was always and intensely part of our interaction.

This sounds strange, even to me. I was educated at a time when no serious literary academic could openly acknowledge religious faith as a way of thinking. Nietzsche said God was dead, and so began a whole lineage of scholars who were eager to agree. Academics are people who write about the beliefs and speculations of other people. So it was relatively easy to keep my religious beliefs separate from my work as a Ph.D. candidate. Just as it is easy to work for decades without colleagues ever knowing there is a bible in your "favourites" folder or in your desk drawer.

Chris and I are comfortable working with lots of different people with lots of different beliefs. We do not preach a part of our work. It's not the way we do business.

Shared faith is the reason for our business: it sits underneath everything else. It is our rock. We do not pray in class or in coaching sessions or in meetings (at least not out loud). We do pray - about and for the work, about and for each other, about and for our families. In our own lives, we use all the practices we teach to deepen our faith - to give us new ways to hear the voice of God in our lives, new ways to see the path being given to us, new ways to feel the presence of God as make our lives and build our business.

After much of what the Presbyterians would call 'prayerful consideration,' we have added some of this story to our 'team' page on our website. It's a little scary - we are not entirely sure how people will respond. We want all our clients to know they will be comfortable (and comfortably challenged) in our trainings, whatever their beliefs. We also want people to know who we are and how important our work is to us.

We believe that when God gives a gift, God expects us to look after it and to use it and to love it. Our work is a gift from God.

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