In our society, we tend to gravitate toward valuing titles. We often categorize what we do in life by using those titles. This is especially true in church society. We have pastors, bishops, evangelists, teachers, prophets, apostles, worship leaders, youth pastors, kids pastors, and associate pastors.
Admittedly, I spent way too much mental energy for a couple of years in my 20’s trying to figure out if I was a pastor, an evangelist, an apostle, or something else. To be clear, there is nothing inherently wrong with titles. They give us language to communicate. I have long since ceased in fighting petty battles over inconsequential issues. We live in a broken world desperately in need of Jesus. It’s a waste of time critiquing people because they call themselves prophet, apostle, bishop, or whatever other designation they choose.
Simultaneously, I’ve quit worrying so much about my own title. My current title is “District Youth Director” (DYD). I mean this with no disrespect, because I am grateful for the fellowship of which I am a part, but the title DYD doesn’t mean much to me at all.
I’m more concerned with the fruit of my life. I have come to realize my assignment and calling is less about the descriptor on my office door, and more about the culture I create.
The same is true of you, whether you are in the arena of church leadership, medicine, education, politics, or any other occupational field. Your professional moniker is not as relevant as the culture which evolves around you because of your presence.
Above all, you are a culture creator.
If you will allow, sharing the definition of “culture” seems valuable.
🔶 the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a group
🔶 the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization
🔶 scientifically speaking 🔬 the act or process of cultivating living material (such as bacteria or viruses) in prepared nutrient
As a follower of Jesus, there is only one culture we are to instigate and perpetuate…the culture of His Kingdom. If you want to know what that looks like, a good place to start is the “Sermon on the Mount” in the Gospel of Matthew. Then follow Jesus as He heals the sick, comforts the grieving, gives hope to the destitute, fills hearts with joy, and establishes His “shalom”. (Here is a great video on what the word “Shalom” means)
I’ve led you down this path to make one simple point about creating Kingdom culture in whatever environment you have influence. A younger leader recently asked me about how he should approach rectifying some toxic patterns in the ministry he leads.
Should he address it specifically with his preaching?
Should he confront and challenge the primary perpetrators?
Should he subtly recommend books that address the issue?
Should he simply remove the “cancer”?
I’ve spent 20+ years in the vocation of creating culture. For years I was doing it without realizing that’s what I was doing. The last 5+ years I’ve become much more aware of the process and about how we have accomplished creating healthy culture, and how we can proceed in that direction intentionally, strategically.
What was my advice to this younger leader?
Instead of spending your time trying to correct the negative…
Instead of expending relationship capital correcting the people…
Instead of exerting mental and emotional energy trying to fix a problem…
Ask and answer this question…
This issue we are dealing with in our ministry, what is its opposite in God’s Kingdom?
Think on that. Meditate. Pray. Seek the Lord. Explore the scriptures.
Come to a confident conclusion about the Kingdom opposite.
Now, use your time, leverage your relational influence, and exert your mental and emotional energy on creating what’s good and right. Instead of trying to fix what’s wrong, flood your ministry with what’s right…drown out the illegitimate. Deprive that cantankerous fire of oxygen. Turn on the faucet of what is pure and healing to flush out the toxic.
Does this mean you will never again have to do the uncomfortable thing of confronting a problem? No, of course not. It just means that our goal is to create Kingdom culture. It’s a take on Paul’s encouragement to the Philippians to, “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable.” To be absolutely confident that the substance of His Kingdom is of greater potency than what ails your culture.
Focusing on what’s wrong, what needs correcting, what needs fixing, can become a discouraging, frustrating distraction. After much analysis, observation, and practice, I’ve come to the conclusion that the best route is to focus predominately on establishing what is right.
When I’ve transitioned into new environments and leadership roles, I never spent much time addressing what was wrong with the culture. I spent the overwhelming majority of my energy contending for what I knew to be good and healthy. I didn’t place much emphasis at all on where the culture was or where it had been, I called everyone to where we were going.
How do you do this?
✅ You speak on…preach about…talk about…what’s available and possible.
✅ You identify people who look like the culture you want to create, and you celebrate them and expand their influence. You give them a voice.
✅ You leverage social media and every other form of correspondence to shape right thinking. You use every tool available to teach people HOW to think.
✅ You offer healing and opportunity for growth to those who are broken, insecure, controlling, or toxic.
✅ You stay consistent…you stay the course…you don’t allow your mind to be filled with that which is frustrating. You keep your thoughts on what is possible.
✅ You love really well. Show your heart. Be transparent.
✅ You believe with absolute confidence that His Kingdom way will be established. You learn when to run hard and when to dig in your heels. You are unwavering in this belief.
✅ You do what’s right…repeatedly.
You will look up one day and realize, that issue that seemed so glaring, is no longer a part of your culture. It couldn’t withstand the tide of His Kingdom Come.