Participant Highlight October

Name: Caroline Denham

Age: 37

Hometown: Florence, SC 

Teen Challenge Center: Dixon Kentucky July 2018

Brief Testimony:  I came back into TC almost 2 years ago ready to get whatever it was I had missed the first time. The Lord helped me to understand who I really was and to understand who I really was and that he had a plan for me. His plan is far better than any I could have for myself, and I have learned to trust Him and to wait on Him, no matter what the circumstances. 

What is the vision and calling that God has given you? I believe I am here to share my knowledge of the word and the revelation that God has given me.
How has the ELP Program impacted you? I am learning, each month, how to be a more efficient teacher and leader, and that my own spiritual state plays a huge role in this.

TF Highlight October

Name:  Brittany Cottuli

Age: 25

Hometown: Camden, DE

Teen Challenge Center:  Shenandoah Valley Teen Challenge Graduated in 2015

Brief TestimonyWhen I came into Teen Challenge nearly four years ago I was completely broken and lost. Over the last four years, I have learned to how to find myself and who I truly am in God. Through ELP I have not only been able to grow closer to the Lord, but I have learned that I am a leader. ELP has helped me to become a better leader while keeping the Lord in the center of my life.

What do you enjoy most about your role? I enjoy everything about my job, but what I enjoy the most is that I get to show these women the love of God and to show them the right way to be raised up so that they can go out and share the love of the Lord with others.

Why do you feel that leadership and training are valuable?  I believe that they are valuable because they can become life-changing for anyone who is trying to grow in their relationship with the Lord. I feel as though it is important to expand the idea of leadership so that our students can see that it goes far beyond just the walls of teen challenge. 

Main Article: Inviting an Uncomfortable Conversation

By Tyler Graeff

Of our three core values, the one that challenges us most in our development as leaders is Continuous Improvement. We should always be taking personal inventory as well as seeking feedback from others so areas of improvement can be identified. Often times until topics are discussed in an uncomfortable conversation, we may not know where we need to grow.

In Chapter 26, Witt talks about inviting and receiving uncomfortable conversations. “Hold on Witt, you mean that we are supposed to invite these kinds of conversations and embrace them?” During my early stages as a leader, I found it difficult to receive and participate in those tough conversations. Especially those that were a reflection of my performance and character. It was a natural tendency for me to become defensive, and the root was insecurity.

Witt says that all of us struggle with some form of insecurity, whether we would like to admit it or not. Everything in us wants to resist having those hard conversations because of it. If we are striving to model our core value of continuous improvement, we must embrace having those uncomfortable conversations so that we can grow and help others in our sphere of influence grow.

In the midst of uncomfortable conversations, I have needed to remind myself of who I am in Christ. The good news is that my shortcomings are no surprise to God. He already knows our weaknesses and at the end of the day, the truth is we are gloriously saved and on our way to heaven. So why wouldn’t we welcome conversations that could help us grow?

One cannot simply remain the same when accountability is invited in the picture, there will be some kind of a shift or challenge presented within ourselves. Having these conversations within a team begins to challenge us to cultivate a culture of honor and honesty. Witt leaves us with a challenge when we are faced with an uncomfortable conversation: Lean in and embrace the conversation and consider the opportunity to grow.

Below you will find a good model for leading uncomfortable conversations:

Pray through your own anger and initiate the contact

  • Don’t let emotion lead you. Wait until you’re objective, but deal with issues before they get bigger.
  • Don’t wait for the other person, scripture beckons you to make things right whether you are the offender or the offended.  

Hold a Fact-Finding Meetings

  • Explain what you have seen and/or heard and how you see & understand it
  • Then ask them to explain how they see it
  • The meeting may be more of a clarification than a confrontation.

Listen and allow them to respond

  • You must stop and allow them to respond. They may present a new perspective that will help you both.
  • They may also throw up on you, listen anyway. Give them time to process and answer

Establish forgiveness and repentance, if necessary

  • Connect the issue you are correcting with who they are in Christ
  • Don’t conclude the meeting until issues are clear and resolved and forgiveness is extended, even if it ends with them being in the wrong or leaving

Pray and affirm your appreciation as you close your time together

  • Always close these times with prayer. Give them hope, and remind them of their place in God’s heart and yours

Main Article: The Big Brother Syndrome

By Tyler Graeff

In the past decade, there are a number of words that could be used to describe our culture as a nation. Witt, suggests the word “entitlement” as being one of the top descriptors, particularly for the younger generations. You may have opinions about that, but regardless, we are a part of an incredibly selfish culture. One where self-promotion, pride, and entitlement have become cultural norms. As believers, God has set us apart, however that doesn’t exclude us from falling into some of these cultural norms.

In Luke 15 we see pride and entitlement demonstrated in two different ways in the parable of the Prodigal Son. The first son who squandered his inheritance was entitled to the inheritance that his father gave him. He just demanded it, before it was actually time to receive it. The second son demonstrated entitlement when his brother returned home. His father invited him to come inside and celebrate but the older brother responded by saying “Look! All these years I have been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could have fun with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him”. The older brother felt as though he were entitled to more because of his obedience to his father. To argue his case, he was quick to boast in his accomplishments and point out his younger brother’s shortcomings.

As believers, everything we do is for Christ! If we boast in anything, it should be in His great power, not our own. When we get to heaven, we are not going to ask the Lord, “Where are my crowns?” They are going to be cast at the feet of Jesus. A hard truth we must come to terms with is that in this life we are not entitled to anything. We may never see all the promises of God until they are fulfilled in heaven.

Let us examine our hearts and see if we have given into self-promotion, pride, or entitlement. John 3:30 “He must become greater; I must become less.” A few practical things to help combat this in our lives could be to find ways to serve those around you, rejoice at their successes, and stay rooted in the fact that any success you have in your life comes from God.

Participant Highlight September

Name: Grant Dinsmore

Age: 21

Hometown: Smyrna, Delaware

Teen Challenge Center: Dublin’s Men’s Center 2019

Brief Testimony: I grew up in the church and learned a lot about the Bible. I was never good at the application part of the word, so shame got a hold of me. I became depressed and suicidal over a few years. I came to Teen Challenge and found the gospel. Now I live life with a hope in Jesus Christ!

What is the vision and calling that God has given you?  To spread the Gospel to broken and hurt people.

How has the ELP Program impacted you?  ELP has given me leadership tools and an opportunity to serve in ministry.

TF Highlight September

Name: Stephen Potterf

Age: 34

Hometown: Loganville, GA

Teen Challenge Center: Dublin, GA 2018

Brief Testimony: In my darkest days of addiction, my life began to spiral out of control. I was on a path of self-destruction. I came into the doors of Teen Challenge where I was met by love. God called me out of the darkness and into the light. Now I get to give back to the ministry God used to save my life.

What do you enjoy most about your role? I love to pour my heart into the guys. I am a disciple maker and character builder. I love watching God change people’s hearts.

Why do you feel that leadership and training are valuable?  In order to succeed at anything, you need the right leadership and training.

Main Article: Culture of “One Another

By Tyler Graeff

Romans 12:10 says, “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” How countercultural is the word of God in a society that encourages individualism? Being independent and self-reliant is encouraged through the promotion of individualism. People are apt to exploit and hurt others, no position or person is exempt. Many times, these things may be in the spotlight of the news, behind people’s backs or on social media. It’s becoming hard to trust; people are being hurt and people are falling into a pattern of looking out for themselves. This can prevent the pursuit of personal relationships. 

What does it mean to be devoted to one another? Our relationships start to look personal rather than transactional. Individualism allows people to operate in the transactional mindset: what can I get from this person? Being devoted to one another helps us to ask the question: what can I do for this person? In a transactional leadership approach, those that we serve end up feeling used and devalued. When we serve others in a personal way, those we serve start to feel empowered and valued. Two opposite sides of the spectrum, right?

In our individualistic, highly transactional society,  how do we begin to craft a culture which honors one another?  In chapter 21 of “High Impact Teams”, Witt identifies two foundational building blocks that can be used to craft a culture of honor. The first block starts with you! In order to have a culture that is devoted to one another, we must know how accepted we are by Jesus. Insecurities can cause us to become selfish, worrying about ourselves or what others think. Once we have an understanding of our identities in Christ and we operate in that confidence, we can shift our focus outwards.

This outward focus brings us to the second block of viewing others through the eyes of God. A culture of one another is viewed from the lense of Christ. A culture of honor puts those that you serve and those you serve with, first. We are called to treat people with dignity, respect, value, and care. Often times when a leader’s focus is turned inward, it starts to affect those that they serve. We treat others with value so that there may be no divisions within the body of Christ. We are made in the likeness of God and He does not show partiality. 

It’s not about us! In ministry, we need to remember the example that Jesus set as a servant leader. As leaders, we need community. Crafting a culture of honor takes work and is counter-cultural.  Take the challenge and start to craft a culture of honor and devotion. When we craft a culture of one another, we begin to maximize unity and minimize division. Let’s show the world the standard of God by showing honor and devotion to one another and influence the status quo of a fallen world.

Participant Highlight August

Name: Melanie Douglas

Age: 48

Hometown: Warner Robins, Ga

Teen Challenge Center: Columbus Women’s Home 2018

Brief Testimony: I came into Teen Challenge broken from abuse stemming from the early age of 9 years old. Walking into the doors of TC broken and suffering from rejection issues as well as abandonment issues, God met me here and has totally transformed my life. He continues to heal me daily and walk with me as I continue to serve Him.

What is the vision and calling that God has given you? I believe the vision for my life is to help win souls for the kingdom. I know and have faith that one day I will be a director of a Teen Challenge and continue to help women find freedom in Christ

How has the ELP Program impacted you? ELP has and continues to teach me leadership skills as well as coping skills to walk this journey out as I come alongside my leaders to help win souls for the kingdom and bring Hope to the lost.

TF Highlight August

Name: Amanda Taylor

Age: 36

Hometown: Jackson County, GA

Teen Challenge Center: Columbus Women’s Home 2007

Brief Testimony: I started using drugs at the age of 13, and began using meth at the age of 15. Five years later, I still did not know I had a problem, although I was using daily. When I was introduced to crack cocaine, it did not take me long to realize that I was in real trouble. After a few more years of trying to stop and going deeper in the lifestyle, I walked through the doors of the Columbus Women’s Home and immediately, I encountered Hope. I am so thankful today that God called me into this ministry, and I am honored that he would use me to share that same hope with others.

What do you enjoy most about your role? I find myself saying, “This is one of my favorite things I get to do” to most of the responsibilities I have, but ELP has always been deeply embedded in my heart. I truly enjoy the opportunity to pour into up and coming leaders in the weekly sessions and one-on-one.

Why do you feel that leadership and training are valuable?  I believe that without the experience of leadership, we would not face the pressures of standing for what is right before we step outside the role of a student. Without training, we would not grow beyond where we are at today.

Main Article: Techo-Danger

By Tyler Graeff and Bryan Sampson

While reading through the gospels I can’t help but notice how intentional Jesus was with connecting with people. Time and time again in the word, we see Jesus interacting with one person in front of him, i.e. the demoniac, the woman at the well, the lame man, and countless more. Jesus was intentional and personable with the person in front of Him. I am challenged in my own walk to be the same. How often I have been guilty of being on my phone or checking emails when out to dinner with friends or in the presence of good company or even being inquired upon by an intern or student. Today it is all too common to be in an important conversation or meeting and being challenged to remain fully present and engaged with those in the room.

Witt (2018) emphasizes the need to embrace the skill of in-person (incarnational) conversation. This is what God did by becoming incarnate in Jesus Christ. We must be present with those we are in conversation with face-to-face. Focus on the person in the room, give them your full attention.  And if you must take a text message or incoming call, apologize and ask permission to do so.

Texting and emails are a great blessing for communication; however, many times we can misread the delivery one uses to communicate. Many times I have read an email and thought that a person was being harsh with me, when the complete opposite was being communicated by the sender. When conflict needs resolving, it is best to do this in person (incarnational) rather than through technology.

Technology can be a blessing when it is used to glorify God, we just don’t want it to cause us to become so impersonal that people do not feel the love and connection from us and the God who lives within us. Let’s challenge ourselves to become more like Christ, so people experience the incarnational love of Christ through us. Jesus sets the example of what it looks like when another person is in our company. Are we giving that person the attention they need? Are we being intentional to create space and distance from technology, considering all of the ministering and training opportunities presented to us?

Let us pray today that God will give us the discernment and the power to use technology and build personal relationships in a way that brings him the most glory.