The Lift Project: Shaping Culture: Fueled by the Fire or Living Off Its Glow?

The past 5 years of my life have featured a greater focus on developing spiritual habits. These personal disciplines fuel my walk with God and service in ministry: prayer, engaging the word, breath prayer, reflection time and most recently journaling. But when do personal disciplines need to become cultural disciplines? If we all grow on our own, when we do make time to grow together.

Week 5 of Shaping Culture class in the LIFT Project focused on building a culture of spiritual practices. Learning style this time around featured 4 articles to read with time to reflect on each one.

Article 1: Living in the Vision of God by Dallas Willard

Dallas deals with the danger of living in the afterglow light of a founding leader. The founder’s vision fueled a fire that burned brightly and launched a movement. Typically the next generation doesn’t live off that fire but off its glow.

Being the pastor of a congregation 70+ years old, this article caught my attention. Our culture seeks to fuel up with the fire of the Holy Spirit to worship, connect, learn and serve, to ultimately passionately transform lives to be like Christ.

Dallas says the key to staying connected to that vision fire is “at the center of care for the heart is love for God … The love God, and only the love of God, secures the vision of God: keeps God constantly before our mind.” That’s a love that Jesus describes in the great commandment as one with all my heart, soul, mind and strength.

Article 2: Collective Soul by Mindy Caliguire

This Lift course is doing a great job of helping me to understand the value and importance of culture. Instead of seeing leadership culture as a byproduct of life’s interactions, shaping culture seeks to be intentional in who we are and perhaps even more exciting who God is calling/making us to be.

As Mindy puts it, “If we focus on the how, the what has a much better chance of being accomplished.” She suggests 3 steps to intentionally building a “collective soul”:

1) Define your culture-vision. What is God’s dream and your dream of our “way of being” together. Vision is often defined as “picturing a preferred future.” Same is true for culture-vision. What does it look like for where God has placed you to serve.

2) Lead towards that God-given culture vision. Specifically be more then a team builder, be a community builder. Develop freedom and responsibility for the individual, what Jim Collins calls “disciplined integrity” in his book, Good to Great. Most of all stand strong together empowered by the Holy Spirit and His work in and through us.

Article 3: Speed of the Leader, Speed of the Team by Bill Hybels (Axiom 29 from his great leadership book Axiom)

Axiom is one of my favorite leadership books, a great book to slowly digest and learn from each day, and this is one of my favorite axioms from the book. It’s one that remember often. It motivates me to get in the game and keep serving strong.

This time around, this quote stuck out (did help that it was highlighted as well), “If you cannot say, ‘Follow me,’ to your followers — and mean it — then you’ve got a problem. A big one.”  Bill’s not on an ego trip, just wrestling with the implications for leadership when Paul tells believers to imitate him as he imitates Christ. One could get on a big ego trip down a wrong path, if one’s leadership and followership is not ultimately directed to Christ and the cross.

Article 4: Is Your Team Culture More Corporate than Christlike? by Lance Witt (Chapter from his book Replenish)

His opening 2 questions made be pause, think and pray:

1) Are the people on your team better Christ followers because of your leadership?

2) Are those you lead better Christians because they’ve been hanging around you and your ministry?

Christlike team/community culture builds on authentic spirituality and puts a high premium in developing people in their God-given call.

Christlike team/community builds relationships and not just knock on spiritual tasks. At least that’s what this task-oriented leader picked up. As Lance says, “Our first priority is to build people, not a program.”

Put the 4 articles together and I came away with a deeper desire not only to fuel my own fire from the Holy Spirit, but fuel the fire of the people around me and to leverage the heat and energy our fire can be when we burn brightly together. I also again am thankful for how the shaping culture class and Lift courses keep the fire burning.

What keeps the Holy Spirit’s fire burning brightly in your life? In your church? On your leadership team/culture?


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