Culture: “The total of the inherited ideas, beliefs, values, and knowledge, which constitute the shared bases of social action; the total range of activities and ideas of a group of people with shared traditions, which are transmitted and reinforced by members of the group.” (Collins English Dictionary).
Our lives are strongly influenced by the cultures we live in; my life has been a “one culture” experience growing up here in Canada. Reading through the book of Judges made me think about the variety of cultural influences that shaped the lives of the Israelites. The type of government or kingship that was in power then and in our current time has largely defined how the cultures behave. For the Israelites this was a big part of the problem, they were wandering around like lost sheep with out a shepherd. They had no one to help keep them aligned with their inherited ideas, beliefs, values and knowledge. As we read in each account of Judges, God delivers the people from their problems by establishing a leader who calls them back to a shared understanding of God’s plan for them. The problem that resurfaces over and over again is once the leader is gone they fall back into their old ways and drift away from God, this is the repetitive action that follows their behaviour for many generations.
As I work to understand how culture plays a role in shaping who we are I know that as a leader in the church it is my responsibility to help people identify with beliefs and values that are counter to what our culture has defined. My lesson from Judges today calls me to be consistent; it calls me to be leading others to live a life that honours God through my actions and example of my own life. As I grow and learn I also realize that I need to be mentoring and training the next generation of leaders so that we don’t fall into a season of “wandering like lost sheep” like the Israelites.