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About Spiritual Steps on the Road to Success
2016 Best Book Awards Winner in the “Religion: Christian Inspirational” category
What are the spiritual steps to success – and the spiritual tests we encounter when we achieve success? How do you keep your spiritual integrity as you climb the ladder? Author and international keynote speaker, Dr. Linda Seger tackles rarely-addressed issues that facing any spiritual person in their professional lives: our sense of vocation; taking risks; God’s timing versus ours; becoming important (and being overlooked); confronting evil; handling competition; the deadly sins we meet on the way up – and on the way down.Each chapter features interviews with a number of high-profile Christians from the fields of business and the arts.
Listen to podcast interview with Linda Seger, Th.D. on the Spiritual Steps book
“On the shelves of any major bookseller you will find dozens of books about success. The ABCs of it, the secret of it, the seven, ten, or twelve steps to it, the loser’s guide and the winner’s guide to grabbing the brass ring before the ride is over. There are even books that discuss spiritual and religious elements of achieving success. But so far, I have found nothing quite as exciting and practical as Linda Seger’s encouraging, intelligent take on the subject.” –From the foreward by Martha Williamson, Executive Producer of Touched by an Angel, Pasadena, California
“As an elder in the art of life, Linda Seger brings a wealth of experience and wisdom to help us understand true success and how to navigate its adventures.” – Wm. Paul Young, author of The Shack, Crossroads, and Eve
“A highly inspiring book. Dr Linda Seger’s excellent and easy-to-read Spiritual Steps on the Road to Success is insightful, profound, and very practical. It will help a lot of good souls to do great things in the world while staying balanced in their personal lives.” – Dr Leonard Felder, author of Fitting In Is Overrated
“Some of the best spiritual writing since C.S. Lewis.” – Professor Andrew Quicke, Regent University
Spiritual Steps on the Road to Success is the winner of an Illumination Award Gold Medal
“And again I say unto you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
“What gain then is it for anyone to win the whole world and forfeit his soul?”
Life is a spiritual test. This is true, not just for the bad, but also for the good. We might tend to think that all the spiritual issues we confront relate to the negatives in our lives – such as addiction, abuse, illness, unemployment, break-ups, and the death of a loved one. But achieving our goals, being successful, being famous, well respected, and even rich, also present us with spiritual challenges, and they are often spiritual issues that are easy to ignore because of the comfort and respect that we have and the good life that we have achieved. We all know people who have blown it – no matter what the circumstances. And we all know people who have handled their success well and used it to manifest the Kingdom among us.
We live and work in the world, yet we often feel a tension between doing well and doing Good, between being successful in the world’s terms without compromising our spiritual lives, knowing that sometimes they may demand opposite actions. We try to hear the still small voice that calls us, but it can be muted by our desire to accomplish and achieve on our terms.
For those of us working publicly in the world — in careers that have the potential to influence others as well as impact the world — our ability to pass the test and to be an instrument and partner with God becomes ever more important. Our commitment to actualizing the values of justice, compassion, tolerance, kindness, and goodness can have enormous influence on our happiness, our relationships with others, and our world.
All of us, of course, can do Good in the world – whether we’re spiritual or not. But if you’re a person actively working to bring the Spirit into your life, and if you’re a person who wants to do work which you feel God wants you to do, and to express God’s goodness through your work, new questions and challenges arise.
That is what this book explores – the spiritual challenges we meet when we want God in the center of our professional lives. The book explores the temptations, the resistances, the obstacles that try to keep us from getting through the eye of the needle. It explores processes we can use to move us from one step to another.
The book is divided into three parts, since the steps we take seem to fall into either the beginning – when we start on the journey, the middle when we’re well on our way and meet a number of obstacles, and toward the end, when we are achieving our dream or have achieved it and find there are whole new issues to address when we’ve finally made it. Although each person might meet some of these issues in a slightly different order than are mentioned in this book, and there may be one or two you won’t meet at all, chances are, you will have some interaction with each of these mentioned.
The book is written from a Christian perspective, but I hope that non-Christians will find many of the universal spiritual ideas in this book will resonate with them as well.
I write from a fairly broad religious background. I’m the granddaughter of a Lutheran minister with a family tree of numerous ministers, missionaries, and theologians who run the gamut from fundamentalist Christians to liberal Christians to no religion at all. Some of my great-great grandparents and grand-uncles migrated to Australia in the early 1900’s and became influential in the Lutheran Church and Lutheran Seminary there.
When I was 21, I became a Born Again Christian and made a commitment to try to put God in the center of my life. In 1970, I became a Quaker (Society of Friends) and in 1971, I decided to study theology in a seminary in Berkeley which consisted of a consortium of nine different seminaries. I took classes from the Baptists and Methodists and Lutherans and Catholics and Episcopalians and Presbyterians and focused on classes in Theology and the Arts. I received an M.A. in Religion and the Arts from Pacific School of Religion and a ThD in Drama and Theology from the Graduate Theological Union.
In the 1990’s, I was lonesome for the academic study of theology and decided to return to school. I attended a Catholic graduate school — Immaculate Heart College Center in Los Angeles – and received an M.A. in Feminist Spirituality in 2000.
My work life has focused on drama – first as a college professor in theater, and since 1979, in the film industry. I created my job in 1981 as a script consultant and script troubleshooter, based on my doctoral dissertation that developed a method for understanding why a script (for film, television, and theater) worked, or didn’t work. The creation of the job took a huge leap of faith for me, since this job didn’t exist and no one was used to paying for feed-back on their scripts except in the few screenwriting classes that existed in the early 1980’s.
I felt called to drama since the age of 19, and through many years, the exact calling began to be worked out. I determined, at the beginning of my consulting career, to try to apply spiritual principles to my work even when I wasn’t sure what they were. I wanted my work to have integrity, and to be Spirit-filled, and over the years, I began to understand what some of those principles were. Most of the principles discussed in this book I’ve learned from my own experience.
Throughout the book, you will hear voices, other than mine, talk about their experience and their faith and how they practice it within their work. A few of their names will be well-known to you. Many will not, although many are well-known within their own field which spans the arts and sciences and business and social sciences. I tried to find Christians who came from many walks of life, from different denominations, and from many different places in the world. I interviewed people from many countries – including Great Britain and Africa, the United States and India, New Zealand, Australia and Singapore. I interviewed Baptists and Episcopalians and Lutherans and Quakers and Church of the Brethren and Presbyterians and Catholics, among many others. But I was not just looking for famous people. I wanted to find people who may not be as well known, but are living out their faith and making a difference in the world. I talked to several people within my home town of Colorado Springs, in hopes of encouraging you to discuss some of these issues with people from your own home town as well. You will find questions at the end of each chapter for discussion, which could be used in a Book Club or church discussion group or with friends. Hopefully you will find the ideas provocative and worth your reflection.
When choosing people to interview, I looked for people who were successful within their own work and who seemed to have a vibrant faith that guided them. I defined success not by money and fame, but by whether the person felt they had been called, pulled, shoved, nudged, or led into their profession and were doing work that expressed their spirituality in some way, whether through medicine or art or science or social service. I sought out people who were making a living at what they were doing and thereby were able to continue to do it. And I tried to find people who were good at what they did and respected for it. Many people came to me through recommendations of others. Some I sought out, because I had heard of them. Some I already knew and respected, and had heard them say something in normal conversation that caught my attention. Writing this book deepened my thinking about the many issues that revolve around success, and blessed me in these interactions with others.
Although the book is written from a God-centered perspective, I also understand that people use many names for God. At times, I will be speaking about The Spirit, or The Presence. You might address God as Lord, Holy Father, or Holy One, or as Holy Mother (yes, there are a few Bible verses that point to the Feminine attributes of God) (FOOTNOTE: Isaiah 66:13, Matthew 23:37) or as The Creator, Compassionate One, Guide, Comforter, Providence or that Power greater than ourselves.
As a Quaker, I tend to see myself as a bridge between people from different spiritual disciplines. Quakers, as a whole, tend to believe that ours is not the only spiritual path, but a spiritual path that some of us find suits our specific needs and yearnings and seekings. As a result, we tend to be encouraging of however others choose to nurture the Spirit within. We call this Spirit by many names: the Seed, the Light Within, the Christ Within, the Indwelling God or Spirit. We believe this Spirit is constantly present, it’s personal, and it can guide us, no matter the circumstance.
You will notice that the book raises questions and discusses some answers. It invites you to reflect on how you interact with these issues. Life is a mystery and not everything has clear-cut answers that can be handed to any of us. I believe in the on-going dialogue with God as we try to work out what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, and how to keep spiritually balanced in the process.
I hope, in this book, to talk about the intersection of our spiritual lives and our professional lives in ways that will help you examine spiritual issues from whatever spiritual viewpoint or whatever your denomination. I hope this book helps you explore some ideas and insights that can support your spiritual journeys. I believe that God loves us, desires to nurture our abilities, and calls us to make a difference in our world. I believe no matter where you are in your spiritual life, and which spiritual practice you’re a part of, you will resonate with the issues discussed. I hope all readers will find this book opens up new possibilities for faith and practice, as we all continue to deepen our relationship with the Spirit that transforms our work.
–Dr. Linda Seger