A Christian Science perspective: Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg's recent book "Lean In" has some helpful career strategies, but this writer has discovered the importance of "leaning up" for divine inspiration.
A new book titled “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, is prompting much discussion. It focuses on the challenges women face in the corporate arena and how women can best be visible, impactful, and effective. As healthy dialogue continues about Ms. Sandberg’s views, much can be appreciated about the importance of bringing one’s talents and inspired leadership into the world of work.
While there are indeed helpful strategies for finding work, advancing our careers, or achieving “best fit” job alignment, many people find that more than human effort and analysis is required – that God’s guidance and wisdom are needed. And for this, we must lean up.
“To those leaning on the sustaining infinite,” writes Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, “to-day is big with blessings” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. vii). Leaning on the sustaining infinite, God, is an active process. It involves praying. It involves listening. And listening from a spiritual basis often involves letting go of human will and human reasoning. As we lean up to hear God’s guidance, which often comes as a fresh idea or impulse, we are inextricably linked to the source of all good.
The Bible teaches us how to recognize ideas from God. “The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits,” says the book of James (3:17). This is how we know the influence has a divine source.
I experienced the fruits of leaning up several years ago. After moving to a new city to support my children’s education, my previously successful self-employment shifted through no fault of my own. With earnest energy I employed every possible strategy to find a job or land new clients. After many months, three imperfect answers presented themselves: high-paying work in another city, contract work with no security, or local full-time work at low pay. As a solo parent with significant responsibilities, none appeared right.
All the while, I had been praying. One day when faced with much fear, I took a walk at a nearby park. While meandering through the blossoming bushes and trees, I prayed, “Father, which of the three jobs should I take?” Immediately the thought arrived, “That’s the wrong question. Ask the right question.” I “leaned up” in order to hear God’s wisdom, and I realized that the issue requiring an answer was not about three particular jobs, but about my life purpose. As soon as I asked the new question, these words suddenly appeared in my consciousness: “Love’s divine adventure.”
Thrilled and somewhat in awe, I went home to look up the source of this spiritually impelled phrase. When I found it, I couldn’t recall ever having read it before.
“We live in an age of Love’s divine adventure to be All-in-all,” declared Mrs. Eddy at the laying of the cornerstone of a Christian Science church in Concord, N.H., recorded in the Concord Monitor (“The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,” p. 158). This resonated strongly for me as my reason for doing any kind of work at all.
With that, I took a piece of paper and made three columns across the top: Love, Divine, and Adventure. I then wrote the three work opportunities down the left side of the page. For each, I captured the degree to which that job role would fulfill each of the three distinct characteristics of my purpose: to express love, to achieve a higher (divine) aim through my work, and to experience adventure/growth.
A clear pattern emerged from this effort. Part-time employment, combined with the contract opportunity, seemed a perfect combination. It was one I had not even considered a possibility. With that, I contacted the organization where the full-time job existed and offered to fulfill all the work requirements on a part-time basis but with full-time pay. They were a bit stunned but agreed to consider it. Within the week, they offered me exactly that position, on those terms. I became the first part-time director ever at that organization.
Combined with the challenging contract work I also secured, this wonderful arrangement lasted many happy years. I was more than able to meet financial obligations, care for my family, save for my children’s college education, and grow professionally in leaps and bounds.
“Leaning up” to God brought not only enriching results, but evidence of how divine Mind responds to our needs in creative ways – outside the box – with infinite blessings.
Living Love’s divine adventure continues to be my purpose. And for every one of us, leaning up can bring uniquely suited answers to our immediate needs, whatever they may be – and to our bigger life questions.