Last week I received a question on the “Spiritual Fitness” definition.
Chris wrote: “OK. What are the essential spiritual functions of a public safety officer? How do you define that? I canâ€™t come hear you speak so I am going to need it via this weblog!”
The origin of “essential spiritual functions” comes from my work with physical fitness programs that started more than 15 years ago. The Americans with Disabilities Act impacted how we could conduct physical fitness training and specifically physical fitness evaluations. We could only evaluate the performance of essential functions of the job, and since we were dealing with physical fitness, we could evaluate essential “physical” functions.
Therefore we could evaluate the ability to chase someone, handcuff them, wrestle with them. We could evaluate the ability to drive a car, shoot a gun, give verbal commands and the countless other physical skills needed to perform the job. We could not evaluate the number of push-ups or sit-ups a person could perform. These exercises measured strength and endurance but not the specific essential functions that officers performed.
So, again I draw the physical /spiritual fitness comparison. Essential spiritual functions of police work are not prayer, faith, religion, meditation (push-ups, sit-ups, etc). Essential spiritual functions that police officers must perform are things like applying fairness in enforcement, being compassionate with victims as well as suspects, being ethical, not abusing authority, applying the spirit of the law, honesty, integrity and the countless other spiritual skills needed to perform the job. One of the most demanding spiritual functions of this job is the ability to manage personal emotions. Officers need the ability to turn off personal emotions in the numerous traumatic situations they encounter. More importantly they need to know how to turn those emotions back on.
But we need to remember, spiritual fitness is job performance. We cannot forget that spiritual exercises, like those listed above, are critical elements in effective spiritual fitness training program.