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Work and Spirituality

Work and Spirituality: Finding the Balance
by Greg Heylin
Dublin, Ireland: Veritas Publications, 2008
192 pages
Reviewed by Jan Jett

Written by spiritual director Greg Heylin, Work and Spirituality: Finding the Balance recognizes a tension many workers experience between their spirituality and workplace. Heylin identifies work as activity for which one is paid. He addresses the diversity of perspectives and traditions in the workplace, suggesting that individuals have choices and decisions when they identify their needs. Heylin recognizes the desire of individuals to find their own spirituality and move toward transformation.

Our churches are challenged as they seek to reach these individuals who declare themselves spiritual, but not religious. A wide gap exists between church teaching, spiritual practice, and the workplace. In addition, work conditions and stress lead people toward spiritual questioning. Modern technology, mobile phones, e-mail, and commuting all consume time that might be used for spiritual reflection and growth. Chapter 13 is titled “Robust Conversations Leading to Action.” In this chapter Heylin focuses on the church, on lay initiatives, and fresh, creative listening with a need to take action.

In the chapters focusing upon spiritual practices, Heylin describes himself as passionate about spiritual direction. He is very specific about the listening and understanding role of the spiritual director when the directee focuses on his or her relationship with God. In addition to spiritual direction, attention is given to prayer, scripture, Jesus Christ, prophetic stance and teaching. The second half of Work and Spirituality is concerned with these topics. Heylin is mindful of the need for individuals to question and seek answers that will ultimately apply and integrate spirituality into their working life.

Heylin states “This book has tried to engage with a topic which is in many quarters a taboo subject, mainly, religious commitment” (178). Attention is focused throughout Work and Spirituality  enabling the reader understand work as what one gets paid for, and to comprehend how spirituality might be lived day by day in the work setting. Recognizing the current era as one of transition, Heylin is honest about the barricades that can arise when spirituality is overtly brought into the workplace.

Work and Spirituality: Finding the Balance is well researched and annotated. It could be a useful and vital tool in an academic setting where the challenges of spirituality and meaning are a focus. This topic can certainly provoke reflection and discussion in spiritual direction, or everyday conversations in the workplace, the home, or in faith communities.

Jan Jett is a diaconal minister (United Methodist) from Indianapolis, Indiana, USA. She serves as a spiritual director, retreat leader, and writer. Her spiritual direction training was completed at the Benedictine Inn, Beech Grove, Indiana. Further education was at Christian Theological Seminary, Indianapolis, and Garrett-Evangelical Seminary, Evanston, Illinois.

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