By R.A. Weigel
The meaning and truth about “Culture” might be an elusive concept for some, but it is a concept that is key to developing an organization or collection of people to become what God intends. Peter Drucker said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” That’s a powerful statement and one that we should all learn to embrace because before we determine another new strategy for what we say we want… we must first do an honest assessment of our group or organizational culture.
Every generation of Christians has new issues, threats, and cultural overtones that need to be reviewed and either accepted or rejected based on the unchangeable truths of God’s Word. Any group or collection of people who readily accepts the majority of those worldly issues, issues that are too often based on Satan’s influence, might find it easy to get along in life, but… that’s not what Christians have been called to do. Christians are told to follow Jesus, deny themself, and take up Jesus’ cross and follow him, (Matthew 16:24), and if there was anyone throughout all history that has been counter-cultural, it’s Jesus.
Jesus didn’t die on the cross just to keep you safe. He died to make you dangerous – a threat to the enemy. He died so that you could make a difference for all eternity. ~ Mark Batterson
For Christians, culture is a word often used but rarely defined. It comes from the Latin word “cultura”, which means “tilling the land” or “preparing the earth.” So, if your mind goes to thinking like a farmer around the ideas of planting, tilling, cultivating, and weeding, that might work for you. Culture is what people say and do relating to the words, ideas, direction, and processes they plant, till, cultivate, and weed. Culture is contained in all the patterns we deem acceptable for living.
Culture is for humans what water is for fish: the environment we live in, and what we tend to think is normal. The main difference is, unlike the fish, we make our own environments. Humans impose themselves on the world in a way animals don’t. Animals make habitats IN the world, but humans make little worlds WITHIN their world. Culture is evident everywhere you go and in everything that happens. Humans are the only animals that make, break, and modify their own culture.
Culture is, in fact, one of the things that makes us different from the animals. But, like fish immersed in water, we tend to become so immersed in certain ways of thinking and certain patterns of doing things that we become unable to recognize the culture we’ve created, live in, adapt to, and the forces behind it.
What is Culture?
Culture is the shared pattern of beliefs, expectations, and meanings that influence and guide the thinking and behaviors of an organization, collection of people, members, institution, or personnel. Culture, (often unwittingly), dictates what is considered to be acceptable and unacceptable behaviors. Yet, the prevailing culture of an organization or group has more influence for determining the results, products, or byproducts than anything else. The prevailing culture trumps the leader, the board, and all the workers or an organization and that’s why “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” The prevailing culture dictates how people are expected to respond or interact. The prevailing culture tends to move, shape, and mold people into what’s an acceptable ways of behaving, thinking, and living. The prevailing culture is most often world-centered, based upon who controls power, money, and the media. And most prevailing cultures move in opposition to biblical truth, never admitting they are flawed, leading to spiritual decay.
Until we bring some attention to certain cultural influences, too many people will fall victim to the lure of adaptation and allow cultural forces to shape their ideas, habits, words, desires, and even their social constructs. In truth, you either make a conscious effort to shape the culture – or the culture will shape you.
Culture is not fixed, static, or immovable. Culture is dynamic and changes with every generation and each new invention of the mind. If you were suddenly transported to an alien planet where everything was different from anything you’ve ever experienced – you’d be very aware of the culture. But most of the cultural changes are complex and many times, hard to identify and the prevailing culture is often impacted by people who want to redefine cultural norms based a spiritual and anti-biblical influences.
The culture is your friend in the same way that a brown bear is your buddy. ~ L. Paige Patterson
What Makes This Important For Christian Coaches?
Jesus was and is counter-cultural. He did not accept what the culture dictated simply because it was the way things had been before. Instead, he boldly stated what was right according to God’s word and not according to tradition or current acceptable cultural standards. Jesus consistently made it clear that just because things had been done a certain way, that didn’t make them right.
For example, “Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out all the people buying and selling animals for sacrifice. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves. He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves!” (Matthew 21:12-13) Those in power had allowed the temple, a place of piety and holiness, to become a place of corruption. The Temple had become a “cash cow,” (excuse the pun), for the selling of animals for sacrifice – probably with a kickback to those who had allowed it to happen. There was not one person who stood against that corrupt cultural practice, until Jesus stood up and said it was wrong.
As Christians, we too have been chosen to stand apart from the world. And like Jesus, we too are to be counter-cultural. We know that the world is not our master and when we allow the world to set our cultural standards we may find ourselves on the wrong side of eternity. As Christians we cannot quietly acquiesce to the cultural influences of evil and not pay a price.
Luke 16:13-15 (NLT) – No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.” The Pharisees, who dearly loved their money, heard all this and scoffed at him. Then he said to them, “You like to appear righteous in public, but God knows your hearts. What this world honors is detestable in the sight of God.
Biblical values and truths are often at odds with the world’s culture. What’s highly valuable according to the world, is often detestable in the sight of God. This is where we, as Christian Coaches, need to make a conscious decision to love each other to the point of helping each other to see where we’ve been shaped more by the world’s culture than God’s truth. When we find that happening, we should follow Jesus’ example and be fearlessly counter-cultural, calling out what seems to be wrong, and bringing in biblical light to dispel that darkness. For example:
|The World’s Perspective
|Leaders should be venerated, obeyed without question, paid the most, and be served by others. It’s the top spot for making money and being important.
||Matthew 20:25-26 (TLB) – But Jesus called them together and said, “Among the heathen, kings are tyrants and each minor official lords it over those beneath him. But among you it is quite different. Anyone wanting to be a leader among you must be your servant.”
|It’s okay to lie to get what you want. They say that “the end justifies the means.”
||Ephesians 4:25 (NLT) – So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body.
|The world says our Christian Coaching community is not really important.
||Isaiah 43:4 (ESV) – Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life.
|The world says that lawlessness can be justified when it’s for the right cause.
||2 Corinthians 6:14 (ESV) – Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?
|The world says that prayers are stupid and there is no reason to pray for colleagues, clients, or the people in your life.
||James 5:16 (NLT) – Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.
|The world says that you only have worth according to how much money, power, and influence you have. You’re to spend your life in pursuit of those things.
||Colossians 3:1-2 (NLT) – Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.
|The world tells you to be quiet about the lies they promote. Just “go along to get along.” They call it love as they justify evil behaviors. They say that it’s okay because everyone is right in their own eyes, and Christians have no right to judge or disagree with their perverted agenda.
||1 John 2:15-17 (NLT) – Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.
|The world tell you that you should “coexist” and that all religions are the same. Everyone is going to heaven.
||John 14:6 (NLT) – Jesus said, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one can go to the Father except by Me.
It’s a sad time when Christians won’t call out the forces of evil that push a perverted culture. It does not bode well for organizations or people that present abnormality as normal. This is not the first time in history it’s happened, and if you study history, it’s easy to see the consequences when people go down that wrongful road. Woe – what sorrow and distress will be to those who insist that evil is good and good is evil. There will be a price to pay.
Isaiah 5:20 (NIV) – Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.
As humans we enjoy routine and habit. We live our lives, loves, desires, and efforts around the products and processes that the culture allows. Too often, without realizing it, the culture shapes us instead of us, as Christians, shaping it. But God clearly instructs us saying, “Don’t copy the behaviors and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” (Romans 12:2) That means, as Christians, are not only capable of seeing the influences that push an evil culture and we also have the right to say and do something about it.
What I’m asking is that we, as Christian Coaches, do what we can to push back against evil cultural designs within our coaching industry. Right now we have an incredible opportunity, as a unique body and profession, to consider where and how to be counter-cultural. We’ve been given the right to stand for Christ and stand against those who want to build anti-biblical cultural norms. Jesus didn’t compromise what was right in order to be accepted, make money, fit in, or influence others. So, if you say you’re a follower of Christ, then shouldn’t you also refuse to compromise God’s truth?
- What is the right amount of time, classes, and money that should be involved in order to become a qualified Christian Coach?
- What is the right type of coaching credential for those who proclaim to be Christian?
- What are better frameworks, competencies, or skills that should be required for Christian Coaches?
- How should Christian Coaches show the love of Christ in their coaching?
- How might Christian Coaching be more clearly defined, supported, and promoted than secular coaching?
- How might all of us as Christian Coaches show that people really need to be helped by a Christian Coach who has the ability to listen to the Holy Spirit?
It’s time for all of us as Christian Coaches to push back against any organization or group of people who promote anti-Christian values and culture. It’s time for all of us as Christian Coaches to make the argument that great coaching, real life-changing coaching, cannot happen without the love of Christ and the help that comes readily from the Holy Spirit. After all, “The Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what we ought to say.” (Luke 12:12)
So…let’s decide that we’re going to shape a strong and effective culture for Christian Coaching. We’re not going to let the secular world decide what is and what is not worthy. Our calling is clear. Now is the time to show up, fulfill doing what we say we will do, and push the biblical truth about what Christian coaching is so we can all make a positive difference for God’s people in this world.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dr. Rich Weigel has an extensive background in leadership with over twenty years leading school districts. In addition to being a credentialed Leadership and Visioneering coach, he has been an adjunct professor five times in various universities teaching Strategic Leadership, Business Ethics, and Educational Leadership. He and his team provide support, coaching, and professional development for teams and leaders in schools and businesses around the country. Rich has served as CCNI’s President since January 2020. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.