Category Archives: spiritual growth

Faith and Resilience

In 2014, Julie K. Hersh, a writer for Psychology Today Online posted a question on Facebook asking readers to share their tactics for building resilience. Their top response was “faith.”

The response isn’t surprising. Faith links our present circumstances to our vision for the future. Hope is similar but wraps our present struggles in an image of better times. Both faith and hope are crucial elements of resilience, “the process of positive adaptation in the face of significant adversity.”

Resilient people have the capability to move ahead in the face of difficult circumstances.

In a blog titled “The Resilience of Faith,” author Jenni White states, “Faith can best be understood as the way in which an individual draws upon and enters into the life of God.”

Faith requires discipline of the emotions and the mind. Those of us who place our trust in the eternal, loving, just, omniscient, and all-powerful God of the Bible, place our faith in Someone who understands and knows our deepest sorrows, who is all-powerful and is for us. This faith gives us hope for a certain future and the strength to move forward in spite of our circumstances.

How Faith Builds Resilience

  • Faith gives us the vision to see beyond victimization.Faith gives us the heart to search for meaning in the messes of life.
  • Faith builds discipline, as we look beyond what is to what will be.
  • Faith is a tool against rumination.
  • Faith is the starting point of our relationship with God, the source of our faith.
  • Christians—those who accept by faith the gift that Jesus offers—gain access to the power of God.
  • The power of faith does not lie in faith itself, but in faith’s object. Christians place their faith in an all-powerful God. We trust His power and His strength to carry us beyond impossible circumstances.

The Source of Our Faith

Faith itself is purposeless if we place that faith in a limited, unloving, non-reasoning, or inconsistent object. Our source of faith must be placed in an intellect bigger than our own who is interested in our welfare and control any circumstance. This is the role of faith for Bible-believing Christians. They boldly move forward because they place their confidence in a personal God who loves them.

Building Organizational Resilience

The psychological health of organizations, just like individuals, hinges on the capacity to bounce back or recover from significant setbacks. Managers need to help their employees navigate layoffs, restructuring, budget cuts, institutional change, economic downturns, and challenging interpersonal dynamics.

So how can faith-based and non faith-based establishments help create resilience in their employees and create cultures of resilience within their establishments?

First, anticipate and acknowledge the reality of adversity. All organizations experience challenges and change. Anticipating and preparing for challenging situations reduces stress and creates a sense of preparedness and confidence. Stress and anxiety are expected responses. Create realistic strategies for addressing those factors.

Be personally involved. Employees need personal responses to stressful conditions. Educate yourself about the stress-producing effects of decisions, policies, the economy, administrative changes, and other elements. Who is the most vulnerable? What do they fear? How can you offer support? Personal communication and support builds resilience.

Share encouraging personal experiences. Draw from your personal experience and share positive stories. Ask others within your organization to share their experiences as well. Build a culture of positivity as you evaluate factors that contributed to past success. Create a culture of appreciation and celebrate staff successes.

Communicate Positively. Employees and staff are reassured when they feel they are kept within the communication loop. Keep the tone and outlook realistic, yet positive. Monitor employees’ attitudes and offer frequent encouragement. Create a culture of connectedness where everyone feels valued and included.

Reward and encourage positive problem-solving and service. Encourage your employees to think outside the box. Provide opportunities for creative problem-solving and organizational and community service. Encourage diverse opinions and perspectives. Develop mentoring programs.

Regularly assess organizational health. Good managers identify what factors can be controlled and what factors cannot be controlled. They focus on factors within their sphere of control. Good managers ask for help and communicate high standards for employee performance, accountability and commitment. Good managers challenge their employees and understand that organizational growth and resilience occurs only if people feel supported when they are required to meet challenges.

What about you? I’d love to hear from you!

What mechanisms are in place in your organization that help promote a culture of resilience and well-being?

How has faith helped you in building resilience?

Peace and Health,

Dr. Clem


Belonging Matters

We’ve all experienced times when we felt we didn’t belong. That feeling can range from uncomfortable to excruciating. The human need to belong and form relationships refers to our need to associate with, be accepted by, supported by, and known by a group. We feel this need in many areas of life: our profession, family, school, on teams, among friends, and in our churches. The need to belong is a natural and universal need. We all want to be heard, loved, and cared for.

God, who has eternally existed as Father, Son, and Spirit, created humans in His image. As God’s image bearers, we long for the sense of belonging that exists in the unity of the Father, Son, and Spirit. This need to belong is wired into our DNA and plays a critical role in our overall wellness. When we feel that we don’t belong, we may experience emotional, psychological distress and isolation.

Belonging influences motivation and behavior.

The desire to belong motivates us. This motivation can be both positive and negative. For instance, a longing to belong to a group may motivate us to conform to norms and relate positively to others. However, when our desire to belong is out of balance, we may conform to the point of compromising our values or identity.

We can also over-emphasize comparing ourselves to others in a group. This can create self-doubt and self-criticism. However, comparing ourselves can also be a positive motivator and initiate self-reflection and personal growth.

We are wired for relationships.

A sense of belonging increases happiness and reduces isolation. Belonging instills a sense of safety, where people feel they can be heard, understood, and known. Belonging encourages creativity and problem-solving because people in healthy relationships thrive. A sense of belonging promotes avenues for fellowship, service, learning, and stimulates personal and professional growth.  

In the fellowship of belonging, we cultivate and restore our sense of humanity. A healthy sense of belonging impels us to seek out healthy relationships. It motivates us to participate in clubs, teams, community service, and faith-based activities. Community is cultivated upon the foundation of belonging. This is because we are spiritual beings, and our need for love and acceptance lie at the core of our being.

Build a sense of belonging.

  1. Building a sense of belonging requires personal investment. Look for people with similar interests or aspects of life (children, marital status, vocation, etc.). Take a class or join a Bible study. Join a yoga or swimming class. Enroll in a college course or seek out specialized training.
  2. Work on accepting others. Get to know people who are different from you. Serve in an inner city ministry. Visit nursing homes and shut-ins. Participate in a prison/jail ministry. ‘Adopt’ a widow or single mother. Volunteer at a hospital, school, or community outreach.
  3. Focus on serving. It’s always possible to find someone to serve. Offer respite breaks to a caregiving parent or spouse. Offer free child care to a single parent. Become a mentor. Teach your special gifts/talents to someone who would appreciate learning.
  4. Take time for self-assessment. What do you enjoy? What kind of people do you enjoy being around? What special abilities do you have? What groups interest you? Pray and ask God to direct you to an area of need.
  5. Seek out churches, community activities, and ministries that create a sense of belonging.
  6. Be open to change. Ask friends and family who know and love you where you might fit and how you can best reach out to others.
  7. Evaluate your effectiveness at helping others feel that they belong. What qualities do you possess that create a sense of belonging in others? Where could you improve?

Tips for Churches and Organizations

  • Foster an environment of service. Organize groups that offer practical help to widows, single mothers, the sick or injured, caregivers, people who are moving or need transitional housing or home maintenance. Wherever there are people, we find needs.
  • Teach your team to communicate compassion and grace. Train greeters, teachers, staff, and personnel in your church/organization how to nurture an environment of belonging. Training should be ongoing and be modeled by leaders who lovingly and graciously instill a sense of acceptance and care for others.
  • Teach your people to put themselves aside and reach out. Offer opportunities for service as part of membership training. Incorporate media clips that teach about and show your people reaching out to others and thriving in groups. Model compassion and soul care in leadership.
  • Know and pray over the needs of your members. Involve your church or organization in prayer chains and ongoing posting of prayer needs.
  • Walk alongside people. Create a sense of safety by living out a culture of transparency, welcome, and grace.  
  • Inventory the groups in your organization and evaluate how their need for belonging is being met: married, divorced, single, widowed, chronically ill, caregivers, parents, those without children, students, etc.
  • Become knowledgeable about barriers to belonging: health challenges, power imbalance, discrimination, shame, loneliness, emotional wounds, and lack of social attunement, socioeconomic and cultural factors, to name a few. Seek out training from experts about how to meet these people where they are.
  • Create environments for people to fulfill the “one another” commands of fellowship, confession, repentance, encouragement, forgiveness, friendship, and walking together in love: small groups, accountability, breaking bread together, prayer groups, hosting others, service groups, etc.

What about you? I’d love to hear how the need to belong has influenced your personal or professional growth.

What does your organization do to foster a culture of belonging? I’d also welcome your story of helping someone else gain a sense of belonging.

Peace and hope,

Dr. Clem


Harnessing Prayer Power

Felicia was devastated when she learned her daughter was self-abusing. Thomas didn’t know who to turn to when he discovered his wife’s affair. Single mom Alexa lost her job and struggled with anxiety about how she would support her three young children.

You may have experienced different circumstances, but we’ve all experienced times of crisis when we felt we had nowhere to turn and few, if any, resources. During the most challenging moments in my life, I have come to value the power of prayer. It has played a powerful role in my story and become my greatest asset in times of my most heartbreaking loss.

Author and Pastor Rick Warren states that “there’s no way you can fulfill your purpose in life without being plugged into God’s power.” I fully believed this truth because I’ve experienced it in many ways.

Prayer Is Power

  • Prayer prevented me from spiraling into depression, anger, and bitterness during turbulent times.
  • Prayer is a link to God, the greatest power in the universe.
  • Prayer provided intimate connection to God, the only friend I could rely on and trust.
  • Prayer gave me hope when all hope was gone.
  • Prayer gave me peace to sleep in the midst of the storms of life.
  • Prayer gave me courage to act when fear held me captive.
  • Prayer taught me gratitude for the things God had done and faith for the things God would do.
  • Prayer offered me the opportunity to praise.

Prayer teaches us three things that give us power.

Our knowledge is limited. We’re dependent upon God.

We can’t see into the future. And much of the time we have difficulty making wise decisions because our knowledge is always limited. But God knows our past, present, and future. The Bible tells us he’s numbered the hairs on our head. He knows which is the most gray and which ones fell out or got stuck to my pillowcase on Tuesday.

So why would this be important? God cares about the tiniest details of our lives. He orchestrates the function of every cell that operates in our body. Prayer reminds me that I am totally dependent upon God. It also reminds me that He yearns to speak to me and have me pour out my heart to Him.

God builds our faith through the power of prayer.

Perhaps you’ve forgiven a friend who deeply wounded you. Forgiveness requires us to risk being hurt again. Maybe you’ve been challenged to tithe to your church when you struggle to make ends meet. Again, you’re faced with risk. Or maybe God is calling you to serve and you don’t feel qualified. Are you willing to take the risk to move forward in the power of God, in spite of your emotions?

Prayer empowers us–not because it’s a formula for success. Prayer is conversation with God, communication with the greatest power in the universe. God uses prayer to build our faith. He uses it to build our vision. He uses it to direct us. He uses it to comfort us. He uses it to guide us. He gives us peace through prayer. The more we talk to God, the easier it becomes to step out in obedience and faith because we know Him better and learn to trust Him more.

God speaks to us through prayer, expecting us to move in obedience. Prayer is conversation. I speak to God. He speaks back to me. But He also expectantly waits for my obedient participation in His plan. We must remember that our emotions are not the truth, and we must act upon the truth—who God is and who we are in Him.

I would love to hear from you. How has God worked in your life through prayer? How has He strengthened your faith through prayer?

How has prayer helped you through a difficult time?

Have you struggled with your prayer life? In what way? Can you offer suggestions for others who are working at creating a more intimate and powerful prayer life?

I’d also appreciate the opportunity to pray for your needs and requests and to encourage other readers to pray for you. What needs are close to your heart?

What answers to prayer have you seen in your life recently? We would love to rejoice with you.

I appreciate the opportunity to get to know you better and to join with you by Harnessing Prayer Power.

Dr. Clem


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