Leading Culture On It’s Own Terms

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“Trails are managed as part of

the natural environment.

Visitors must be prepared to

meet and accept nature on it’s

own terms.” 

I passed this sign countless times along an all too familiar trail, but never really read it. For some reason it stopped me in my tracks this time and its message was as clear as it was challenging.

Here are four simple takeaways for us as leaders of any organization, especially churches.

1 – “Trails are managed…”

Things aren’t just going to get better because you’ve showed up. You and your team will have to pray, process, plan, and get it done with perseverance for there to be lasting change and preferred outcomes along the way. Own it. It’s your trail… for the moment.

2 – “…as part of the natural

environment.”

How you find the environment of the organization you are leading is only natural. No one said it was optimal, just a natural part of life and leadership in a broken world. Don’t take it personal and simply take personal responsibility for what your organization is and will become.

3 –  “Visitors must be prepared…”

We must be aware and prepared for the fact that we are stewards, not owners. We are the “visitors.” Even if you planted the church or started the business, someone else will replace you. Let this humble you and challenge you to be prepared day in and day out. The very trail this sign is on was once Native American tribal land, then a regional center of colonial life, then a thriving resort, now a national landmark known as Fort Boonesborough.

4 – “…to meet and accept nature

on it’s own terms.”

It’s time to do this in your organization and to keep doing this daily as it evolves and grows through the natural cycles of all organizations. You will vision, work, grow, plateau, decline and eventually die unless you continually and creatively (stubbornly) face new realities, embrace change, and reinvent all while holding fast to the bedrock principles that guide you. For most of us… this means the timeless Gospel of Jesus communicated in ever changing ways.

How is your church or business really doing?

Don’t just pass the signs that

are right in front of you.

Stop. Read them. Realize that how you apply their guidance and where this trail leads you and your organization is yours to steward for a season. Start by accepting the realities of the culture you serve in on its own terms.

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