Recently, I attended GLI’s Leadership One Day and for the breakout session I decided to attend a speaker I hadn’t previously heard. Doug Bierer, owner of DBC, offered his thoughts during a session entitled “Biblical Blueprint for a Culture of Purpose”.  He began with the question, “How do we create a culture that fulfills God’s purpose?”  

This fits in beautifully with the Dream Disciple concept: Compassionate Storyteller, Savvy Follower, Intentional Friend, Embedded Influencer. At the intersection of all these concepts is a unified mission: integrating into and influencing our unique cultures.  

Not Culture with a capital C, but the micro culture where we all individually live and work and engage with people.  This is the place where my “good works” happen— where I live out the fruits of the spirit through the grace of God.  

As a business owner and employer, Doug addressed this prosaic life mission head-on with disarming humor and relatability.

Those You Lead Become Like You

And yet, my own spirit was provoked when I heard him say, “Those you lead become like you.” Regardless of my area of influence, from disciplining to parenting, my own mission has never been to cultivate people who look like me. The idea feels both prideful and sobering. But my perspective changed when I reversed the idea: as followers of Christ, we should become more Christ-like. It’s called sanctification, a big word for the bigger work of the Holy Spirit. 

Though I do not perceive myself as a capital “L” leader, I do embrace the influence I have on those in my circle. As a middle school teacher, it necessarily keeps me accountable for the daily interactions and even casual remarks I make to my students.  

Also, I’m fascinated by culture as a concept. Human culture writ large is a mirror of humanity’s unique quirks. For instance, trick-or-treating kids in St. Louis are expected to recite a joke before receiving their candy. In Hendersonville, NC one eats “supper” instead of “dinner”. And right here in Erie my husband and I were intrigued to find that people husk their corn right there in the grocery store! (Yes, Erie friends, I’ve lived in sixteen states and never seen that one before!) 

How do these fun quirks of culture come to be? Because culture is a living, breathing thing, reflecting the humans that comprise it. We all help to create it.

Culture is Determined by What You Follow

As Doug stated in his presentation, “Culture flows from who or what the leader follows.” I left that conversation encouraged to “step up, Savvy Follower”, choosing to regularly ask: How accurately does my daily life reflect biblical doctrine? Is my next step to build consistency in my daily quiet time?  Or learn better techniques for reading the Bible? (There’s a GLI class for that too.) Or to simply repent of my wrong attitude and allow Christ to change me?   

If culture is determined by what I follow, it necessarily follows that getting clarity on my identity is extremely important. I am inundated by a daily deluge of messages about my identity and few of them are holy, healthy, or accurate. Do I know whose I am? What does scripture say about my identity? By the way, GLI has a great six week class, Calling of a Leader, that addresses that topic well.

His second point (he had three main points, which is probably de rigeur since he is a former pastor) was that having a well-defined purpose will equip you to create an effective culture. This lesson was driven home during a recent visit from my newly-adult children. We were discussing how, several years ago, I was encouraged to write down and memorize my own spiritual purpose statement. I am well aware of how this discipline of purpose has helped me over the years. But I wasn’t aware of the impact it had made on my own children— until they recited my purpose statement back to me, word-for-word, in unison! Obviously, they were paying attention in ways I never could have predicted! This perfectly illustrates Doug’s point: a well-defined purpose absolutely drives a culture of influence. 

How does our calling align with God’s purposes? How am I investing in my culture? Look for the intersection of who you are, in fact who you were made to be, and how God is leading you to serve those around you. By deliberately engaging with our sphere of influence, with the leading and empowerment of the Holy Spirit, we really can help to forge a broader culture of growth, healing, and faith.