Are We To Be Ministers or Mountaineers?


I’m sitting here tonight wondering if I should really tell the whole wide virally-prone internet what I think on this subject.  I might step on toes.  I might offend some of you.  I really don’t like doing either.  So let me just preface this post with saying some of you may completely disagree with me.  And that is OK.

There is a teaching popular in certain streams of Christendom about “seven mountains of cultural influence.”  These mountains refer to different social spheres like business, education, family, the arts, etc.  Because I deeply love people, engaging culture, or more accurately the people who are a part of it, is something near and dear to my heart.  So I was pretty excited about the whole cultural mountain shebang when I first heard some of the basics quite a few years ago.

I totally resonate with the idea of God calling us out of the meeting place to minister in market place…

But what I am talking about here is not that at all.

I am talking about an insidious, sneaky, tangential teaching that can easily mimic the heart and nature of true ministry. Ok, here we go.

I recently heard teaching on the seven mountains of culture that stated the following {and yes this is a direct quote}: “Those 7 mountains of influence are so powerful that he who occupies the top of those mountains can literally shape the agenda that forms nations.”

I replayed the segment a few times to make sure I had heard correctly.

Basically the thinking goes something like this: Say you are called to education. Well in order to be influential in that “mountain” you need to work super hard to get to the top so you can be in charge and set the agenda that will bring God’s Kingdom in the mountain of education.

Does God care about education, about what children are learning?  Of course He does. Because He cares about children and parents and teachers and administrators. Does He call folks to go serve in the mission field of education to demonstrate His character and love and power right where they are at? Absolutely.

Ministry is about serving in love and keeping our eyes on Jesus, not controlling the show.  Does God set people in high places of leadership? For sure He does.  But not because they were trying to climb a mountain to be an influencer and become king of the cultural hill.

God’s Kingdom is not about domination, it is about incarnation.

If I had gone in to South Sudan mandating people just do as I say and follow my protocols because I knew better and those ideas were “holier”, none of what I saw happen would have. I would have wound up building my own kingdom, not God’s.

I didn’t go to South Sudan to be in charge. I went in to love like Jesus, be faithful and do prayerfully only what I saw my Father doing. Was culture transformed? Heavens yes. Education, government, economy, social justice all were impacted.  Not by me being an influencer making policy decisions on the top of the mountain range. But by our family keeping our eyes on Jesus and serving and loving our community in the places of their pain.

Making more policy doesn’t change people’s hearts.  Only a love encounter with who Jesus is can do that. Trying to manipulate, “influence” and even legislate what we believe to be God’s will on the earth, squeezing fatally flawed man-made structures into a religious mold is manipulation rooted in our own strength and understanding.

It is not about being a subculture. We are a counter culture where low is high and the highest place of all is the lowest place of service.

They tried to make Jesus a king and He ran the other direction to hide.  Satan offered Jesus the mountain top kingdoms of this world and Jesus rebuked him.  If influence is determined by cultural power and esteem, Jesus was an epic failure.  His own culture crucified Him.  His greatest platform was realized in a death sentence on the cross.

Jesus Himself said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation {careful scrutiny and visual evidence}; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within, among and inside you.”

So maybe, just maybe, His Kingdom needs more ministers (servant leaders) and fewer mountaineers.