Show the Way

Values are caught as much as taught. They are most infectious when people can see them genuinely embodied in the lives of people around them. You can duplicate programs, but you can’t duplicate values. They must be incarnate. They need to be owned and lived out, especially by the leaders, before they settle into the hearts of the larger church body.

One of the names given to Jesus was the Great Shepherd. He came not in the mold of a dominant CEO, but as a servant leader. A shepherd gives the image of one who leads, not by walking behind and driving the sheep, but by being in front of them. When Jesus called His disciples, He didn’t just tell them what to do; He called them to follow Him. Even the Apostle Paul exhorted the Corinthians to follow his example as he followed Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1).

In order to shape values, we must model them by leading in such a way that others catch the wake and follow. One thing is for sure: people will never own values they don’t see their leaders living out.

On the other hand, values begin to go viral when groups of people begin to own and live them. When this happens, things spread to the fringes. People who are not a part of the inner circle may now see, hear, or come in contact with others on the edges who are embodying the values of the church. This expands the influence, and it reinforces what’s important.

--from Chapter 12 of Dirt Matters: The Foundation for a Healthy, Vibrant, and Effective Congregation

Next week, I will offer the last of the nine principles you can use to implant your church’s values into its culture.