We Are Depressed—Because We Miss the Love of God
What does it mean to live from a core of love, becoming a leader of integrity, passion, vision, and wisdom?
Johann Hari in his book, Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression, lists several causes for depression, including disconnection from meaningful work, meaningful values, other people, nature, and respect. Hari draws from social science research and, in contrast with much current psychiatry, he shows that depression is not simply based in individual brain chemistry. It is also a manifestation of deep cultural problems. Our modern Western society compels us to treat each other and the natural world as objects to be used and exploited, and this alienates us from all that could bring meaning, grace, and beauty into our lives.
In our neurosis and despair, some of us look to religion for answers—yet here, too, we often find emptiness and exploitation. Our dominant religion in the West—Christianity—has been increasingly emptied of its profound wisdom, numinous mystery and prophetic challenge, and pressed into service to sanctify the interests of states and corporations. In our materialistic system, greed and fear run our lives and careers. We become blind to the effect that our work, our organizations, and our enterprises may be having on ourselves and our relationships, and also on vulnerable communities and on the environment itself.
In our work with corporate executives and leaders of organizations, we see first-hand both the structural systems that perpetuate this soul-destroying culture of materialism, and the personal cost on individuals, families, and communities. No person, and no community, can thrive without caring for the heart, nurturing the soul, and treasuring all the deeper things of life that evoke meaning, wonder, and joy.
The irony, and the hope, in all this is that there is a place inside each of us that is connected to, and hungering for, Source—that which Christians name as God. To live, love, and lead from that place is to know our true identity, first and foremost, as Beloved. When we come to know ourselves as deeply loved, forgiven and held, created in Love and for the sake of Love, our relationship to what we are doing in the world changes. We stop trying to fill an empty hole with our work. We are no longer driven by greed and fear. We begin to ask deep questions about ourselves, our relationships, our ambitions, and our work. Gradually we see that our work must become an expression of that core of Love, and so what we bring forth in the world can be creative, healing, filled with the power to repair the world—tikkun olam, as our Jewish friends call it.
This kind of personal inner discovery, and the transformation it evokes, can be deeply challenging both individually and communally. Little in our churches or our corporate worlds prepares us for this—on the contrary! We long to hear the invitation to re-discover Divine Love within and to let it transform us, yet we also run from it. On the day we stop running, that’s when something new can begin.
In our program Love Power Justice, we create a welcoming, reflective environment in which participants, and especially leaders of organizations, can experience the invitation to let themselves be loved. We all need to come back to this primary experience of our existential worthiness, of being loved in our core, without conditions or judgments.
At the same time, we need community, we need the fellowship of others who dare to reach deep into their hearts and souls and learn how to live, love, work, and lead differently.
Building on our long experience as both Christian theologians and business coaches, we have created a unique program that invites a profound re-imagining of the core of the Christian gospel and the vocation of leaders today. We also support one another in asking the tough questions that must be faced by anyone seeking to follow Jesus today, and especially in the corporate world. What can it mean to live from the core of love, and so become a leader of integrity, passion, vision, and wisdom in this 21st century? We have learned that no one can ask or face these questions alone—and so we develop ongoing networks for shared discernment and support.
As we are found and healed by love, we are freed from that deep, intense fear and need to “succeed” no matter the cost, and we can wake up and look around to see what we have been doing to ourselves, to one another and to the world. We find that we can make different choices, that we can be guided and motivated by different values and visions. We can gradually become people who are empowered to build loving and just communities, whether they be churches, local cities, or corporations.
For more information on the program, visit here.