Growth - Jethro Creating a System for Sustainable Leadership

Musings in CMi and the Bible is a 12-part series on each of the 12 Dimensions of Culture of the Cultural Mapping Inventory (CMi). You can find the overview article here.

The Growth Dimension of the CMi looks at how a culture tends to foster growth in organizations. Do you prefer to see your organization invest more in its people or in material things such as its infrastructure or systems and processes?

We may tend to say that God is always more interested in people, the crown of his creation, than in systems or things and He would for sure favor investing in growing people (training, retreats, rewards etc.) over investing in material growth (like better computer systems, processes and infrastructure) when building his kingdom on earth. But is that true? Let’s take a look where we can find examples of the growth dimension in the Bible.

For starters, we need to realize what the cultural dimension of growth stands for. It is not about favoring people over material things. It is about what one thinks is the best way to grow a company, further the mission of an organization, etc. “Is it by primarily investing in people or by primarily investing in systems, processes and material things (computers, buildings, etc.)?”

God Investing in People

There are many examples of God investing in people as a means to further his kingdom. Moses spent 40 years in the desert herding sheep. God was training him to have the right heartset, mindset and skill to lead the Israelites out of slavery (and spend another 40 years in the desert). In a similar way, God invested in David and trained him to be a leader through the years David was caring for his family’s sheep and  the years he was fleeing from king Saul. The apostle Paul, after his conversion, spent years in Tarsus, Antioch and the desert. A time God used to prepare him for ministry. The most famous example is, of course, Jesus walking for three years with his disciples and training them to bring the gospel to the ends of the earth.

God investing in Material Things

However, God also “invested in” or created systems and environments to make people and communities thrive. Right in Genesis 2, God created the garden of Eden as a physical environment for Adam & Eve to work in, live in and thrive. One that outdoes any work environment of the 21st century! The Promised Land that God led the Israelites to is also an example of material growth. God created and designated a physical place for the people of Israel to live and thrive and to be an example and witness to the nations.

Later on, when Moses led the Israelites from Egypt to the Promised Land, God used Jethro, the father-in -law of Moses to create a system of judges. After God spent 40 years getting Moses ready for his job, Moses was still overwhelmed with all the issues people wanted him to referee. He didn’t need more training; he needed a different system. Instead of investing in Moses to be more effective, God used Jethro to create a system of judges where all the easy matters would be resolved without taking any time or attention from Moses. Moses would only handle the most difficult cases and, more importantly, teach the people how they were to live and behave as God’s covenant people. (Exodus 18)

In the New Testament, we see similar things happen. After Jesus trained the apostles and gifted them with the Holy Spirit, the church grew too large for them to do a good job by themselves. The apostles realized this problem and convened the disciples together and came up with a different structure for church leadership, where deacons took caring for people off the hands of the apostles (Acts 6). When the church grew again in size and number of locations, God inspired the apostles again to change the structure of church leadership with the incorporation of elders, apostles, evangelists, etc. A prime example of Systems Thinking to foster and grow the organization. (Ephesians 4:11-13, I Corinthians 12:27-31)

Personally, I think Growth is the one Cultural Dimension where an organization needs to excel in both poles/extremes.

Published April 28, 2023

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