Exploring the DNA of Heaven in Family and Work
The Kingdom of God is not only manifested in large-scale situations but should be seen in our everyday lives.
Steve Chua is an executive life coach who has taught about kingdom culture around the world, touching more than 500,000 people in over 20 countries. This is Part 3 of our interview with Steve.
READ UNTIL THE END for an incredible story of Steve teaching non-Christians to hear the voice of God!
We don’t have to spend much time with you to see how proud you are of your family – how does living a transformed life impact family life?
The simplest way to define kingdom culture is that it is heaven on earth. And I believe that family is the greatest expression of heaven on earth, so it is the way we can most clearly express kingdom culture.
For me, family is the incubator of destiny. Family should be the most dynamic, secure place where there’s a constant release of value, worth, and significance. When you know your value, you discover your destiny.
A lot of people, when they think of heaven on earth, think of signs and wonders. But I think first of the DNA of heaven, the fruit of the spirit. Heaven is the most energizing, creative, beautiful place you could ever want to be. So kingdom culture is more than having a miracle here or a miracle there. It’s a set of values, it’s an atmosphere. Ultimately, it’s home. Home, in the family, is where our identities are formed.
“Kingdom culture in the context of family is about how to love well, unconditionally, and show grace.”
Identity is a huge message for me. 99% of our identity is formed by our home environment – what we received and what we didn’t, both positive and negative.
So how can we build kingdom culture within the context of our family?
Family starts with marriage. When your kids see mom and dad hugging, kissing – they feel secure. Christ is coming back for a Bride – for a Wife. This is someone devoted and submitted. It’s not a forced submission. The Greek word for this type of submission means “submitting out of devotion.” There’s a different Greek word that refers to “forced submission.” There’s a choice, a willingness to be submitted. Marriage is a picture of God’s relationship with us.
I’ve been married to my wife for 28 years now, and she’s the best thing that happened to me after Jesus. Outside of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, she’s transformed me the most. Anything in my life that has integrity and purity is because of her. Marriage is pivotal in being shaped for God’s purpose.
Kingdom culture in the context of family is about how to love well, unconditionally, and show grace. There are so many dysfunctional families and broken homes that look good on the outside, but are actually crumbling on the inside. These families operate out of shame instead of a place of glory. The biggest issue in identity is the word ‘shame’.
We talk about ‘the Fall’ and we talk about sin. But if you read the message of ‘the Fall’, there is more talk about shame – man and woman were ashamed. Shame says, “There’s something wrong with me.” It destroys intimacy. So to combat this, I want to create no-shame zones, where we don’t shame or humiliate other people, but instead we look to empower and bring the best out of them.
How does discipline fit into this? Do parents in a kingdom culture still discipline their kids, or do they avoid it because we don’t want to bring shame?
There is a difference between punishment and discipline. Punishment wants to leave one knowing their guilt, making them feel unworthy and full of shame. This is not the Jesus way. However, this doesn’t mean we don’t discipline children, and we don’t just give our kids whatever they want.
In the kingdom, discipline is essentially discipling others and making them like the Master. Our discipline does not focus on the bad behavior, but on bringing the best out of someone’s God-given identity and their potential. We have to discipline our children, because it shapes their character and directs their future. We don’t just give our kids whatever they want.
We’ve always told our kids – you were created to influence, not to be influenced. If you’re insecure and go into the world, you’ll need the world to secure you; but if you’re secure going into the world, then you become dangerous to Satan’s system – the world needs to conform around you.
We’re not trying to make our children “cookie-cutter kids.” I have five kids, and every single one of them is different – they all have unique giftings and unique personalities. They bring me so much life. I’ll be a grandfather in April, and I can’t wait to meet my new granddaughter.
Kingdom is family. If you have a healthy family, you will have a healthy society. As family goes, society goes.
Moving on from the family, how can people in other leadership roles (perhaps a business leader, teacher, or pastor) instill value, worth, and significance into the people they are leading?
“Do unto others as you have them do unto you.” I don’t think anyone wants to have their character assassinated or be embarrassed publicly. That golden rule is very important. See people not for what they do but for who they are – see their potential. You begin to instill value by encouraging the people.
I was coaching an unbeliever recently – he is the CEO of a consulting company and is going through a potential lawsuit. One of the members of his team is based in another country and told him, “I’ve got this, I think this threat of a lawsuit is just noise.” Yet the person I was coaching was a micro-manager; he would wake up in the middle of the night and call this other guy, saying, “Make sure we do this right, make sure we do that.” So he asked me, “Am I doing the right thing?”
I told him, “Actually, no, you’re not. Every time you micromanage, you’re saying to this guy, ‘I don’t trust you.’ Has his track record been good? Is he thorough in what he does?” And if the answer to those questions is yes, I told the CEO, “You’re operating out of your fears. What you need to do is trust your team.”
The CEO replied, “You’re right, I can see exactly how what I’ve been saying to him is frustrating to him. Next time I’m going to tell him, ‘I trust you. I’m going to let it go, and I think you can handle it.’”
“Culture is always created by the people at the top: people will follow the example of the one who’s leading.”
I later found out that after the CEO did this, his team member quickly felt completely different. His productivity increased, simply through hearing this one phrase, “I trust you, go ahead.”
I believe that every single individual wants to be trusted. When we give people opportunity to add value, we’re going to see incredible breakthroughs.
We need to avoid shaming and belittling people. Let’s create no-shame zones. Watch your words and watch your body language. People can say “I forgive you,” but their body language still tells you they’re displeased.
Everybody wants to please their boss and do well. People want to know that they’re adding value. Shame doesn’t do that – it actually brings out the worst of people.
What if you already are in a less-than-honorable environment? How do you undo a negative atmosphere?
Culture is always created by the people at the top: people will follow the example of the one who’s leading. If the leader treats other people badly, it gives everyone permission to treat others badly.
If you want to change culture, you need to influence the people at the top. They need to realize that they’ve not represented the culture that they want. I’ve met with companies who have great corporate values on paper, but nobody lives by them. You need to have leaders who are committed to the process.
Changing a negative environment does not happen overnight. Like the Titanic, you can’t make a sudden turn, or it will capsize.
It takes a period of time, commitment, and a buy-in from all the main leaders. Healing a culture is never completed in only a few months.
It’s just like learning a new language: it takes a while to learn and perfect a language. What we need to understand is that transformation is a journey, and when you’re changing a culture, it will take time.
We’ve really enjoyed spending this time with you. Do you have one more story you can share with us as we close our time together?
Most life coaches examine a person’s present and project their future. The problem is that for many people, their past is actually affecting their present. Because of my counselling background, I can help people see the past, the present, and the future.
I was coaching a man who had set up a business and was being audited by the US government. When I first met him, he was totally full of fear. He made decisions out of fear and had lots of insecurity.
Even though he was a successful CEO, this man was constantly hearing voices that said, “You’re fake, you’re not good enough.” So when the government said they were going to audit him, he was terrified. One of the things I taught him was how to hear the still small voice, and how to take every negative thought captive.
“Write down all the negative voices on a piece of paper,” I told him. “This is the voice of the Judge.” By “the Judge” I meant the noise that was keeping Him from hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit. Once he finished his list, I told him to say, “That’s not who I am,” and to tear up the list and throw it away.
He did what I told him to do. “That’s not who I am,” he said out loud.
As soon as he did that, he heard a small voice that gave him a strategy to deal with the audit. He came to me later and said, “I heard the still small voice, and it worked!”
It’s so fun to watch God move in this process, teaching non-Christians to hear the voice of God, without them even knowing. The Lord is constantly wanting to speak. Years ago, I used to think that God can’t speak to unbelievers. Since then, I’ve formed this fundamental belief that because God is love, He always looks for ways to talk to the people He loves.