Institute for Spirituality in the Professions

Our workplace experience is that we know something is wrong and something is missing. Shouldn’t our work mean more to us and our organizations than paychecks and headaches? Wouldn’t it be great to get the right answer to the questions that gnaw at us? You know: “Surely there’s more to work than this?” “What’s the point?” “Isn’t there’s a better way to operate?” These questions, like all our pain-points and stress triggers, can be endless.

Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace provides the data that validates our workplace experience. Jim Clifton, Chairman and CEO, begins his introduction with, “The very practice of management no longer works.” After presenting the findings that only one-third of American employees are engaged at work (contributing productively), 16% are actively disengaged (destructively miserable), and the majority 51% is not engaged (apathetically present), he rightly observes: “America needs to historically transform the practice of management….” [p. 2]

What does that historic transformation of management look like? It begins at the Institute for Spirituality in the Professions (ISP), a new enterprise at Mercer University – McAfee School of Theology, where our values center on people and their careers, as well as organizations and their triple bottom line. These values are consistent with one another, not mutually exclusive. Through our transformative Marketplace Theology™ paradigm we help individuals and organizations come to see that employee wellness is not possible without employee engagement, and engagement requires the whole person be present.

While we agree employer-provided crisis intervention efforts like employee assistance programs and counseling are beneficial, and encourage any form of effective employee wellness efforts, we recognize that experience and data teaches sustained employee wellness and engagement flow from some yet missing resource. From that clarity we see that to be fully human means one’s career and workplace are significant aspects of the spiritual journey, and to separate rather than integrate one’s journey with one’s work is a primary source of frustration and failure. In other words, upstream of sustained employee wellness and engagement is vitality and upstream of vitality is spirituality. Spirituality is the element that’s missing in our workplaces, and explains why the whole person isn’t present and the majority aren’t engaged.

ISP services and opportunities will include training in the form of workshops and courses, which are not afraid to intelligently engage the spiritual aspects of high stress professions. Examples of profession specific training will include Spiritually in Law Enforcement – the highly popular predecessor course was taught at the FBI National Academy, legal practice, health care, social work, and business management; all developed and led by professionals accomplished in their respective fields. I’m confident that professionals and organizations across Georgia will very quickly reap benefits that flow from the transformative training made available through the ISP. Please feel free to call (404-245-0957) or email me ( if you have any questions or would like more information.

In the News: Institute for Spirituality in the Professions

Smiling caucasian man with greying hair in a white button down shirt and blazer

Paul Knowlton, J.D., M.Div. is the Founding Director of the Institute for Spirituality in the Professions at Mercer University - McAfee School of Theology. In this role, he has the responsibility of conceptualizing and implementing the Institute's value proposition: We help increase individual wellness, organizational well-being, and value by helping professionals develop their soft skills.

Paul's corporate experience began in construction and forensic engineering before transitioning into law. He is licensed to practice before all State of Georgia Courts, the Northern District of Georgia, and is a registered patent attorney. In addition to his roles as an attorney, court appointed guardian ad litem, and court appointed commercial mediator, his leadership responsibilities since law school include law firm director, law firm co-founder and managing partner, and CEO of a foster care agency.

He presently serves on the State Bar of Georgia Attorney Wellness and Lawyer Assistance Program committees. A former foster child, Paul is the author of The Original Foster Care Survival Guide.

Paul holds his Juris Doctor from Georgia State College of Law, his Master of Divinity from Mercer University’s McAfee School of Theology, and his Bachelor’s degree in engineering from Temple University.

The ISP is located on Mercer’s Atlanta campus, where Paul can be reached at 404-245-0957 and

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