Leadership – Character, Conditions, and Community

So once you encounter a Redwood grove, the tallest trees on earth, you naturally have to ask the questions: How do they grow so tall? Why do they live so long? What sets these trees apart from the multitudes in Shrubberyville? The trees seem eager to share their secrets as you embark on an investigative adventure. Three factors begin to come to light: the characteristics of the trees themselves, the conditions they live in, and the fact that you find these ancient, tall trees in groves.


To ask why a tree grows so tall and lives so long, you might start with the antithesis of that question: what limits a tree’s growth and what kills it? Trees are limited by the amount of water and nutrients they get, the physical restraint of gravity to get the water and nutrients from the roots to the top of the tree, and the strength of the tree to stay standing as it grows taller. Trees also have natural enemies, such as fire, wind, pests and disease. We will look at the character of the tree to overcome these limitations and withstand the things that seek to destroy it.


Redwoods are found nowhere else on earth except in the United States along the coast of the Pacific Northwest (north of San Francisco up into Oregon). It’s curious that Redwoods are only found in one location on the planet while fossil records of these trees can be found around the globe. What is it about the conditions of this location that allow these trees to not just exist but flourish? And beware, they might not be the “perfect” conditions you would hope for, but they are the “right” conditions.


One of my favorite sights is an open field with a lone, beautifully symmetrical, one hundred year old Oak tree in the middle of it. But Redwoods don’t grow this way, they are always referred to in the context of the grove where they are found. Redwoods grow best in community. Without the support the trees provide one another, they’d never reach their potential. We’ll discover how these trees truly practice the core value of community, working together and supporting one another.

In the book The Dream Giver, by Bruce Wilkinson, a guy named “Ordinary” is inspired to leave his home town of “Normal” and follow the dream God has given him. The twin city of Normal is surely Shrubberyville. To be sure, God loves us shrubbery and all, but He knows He created us to be Redwoods. Have you discovered yet the dream that God is stirring in you? We can’t envision the fullness of God’s intentions without stepping out and staying on the journey He has marked out for us. And it is only as God shapes Christ-likeness in us that we will realize our potential, fulfill our dream, and let our life glorify Jesus to the fullest! God does this as He refines our character through the conditions He places us in and the community He surrounds us with. Join me as we explore the lessons from the Redwoods on character in the next series of articles.

Article submitted by: Karissa Corpeny (Director, Corporate Training)

Revolutionalized Leadership Podcast Series 1 of 12

This is the first in our Series of 12 Podcast on Coaching where Cathy Alford (Founder of Life Works Coaching in Columbus, GA) and I talk about “What is Coaching?” You can dowload the audio recording here. Attached  is the PowerPoint slides for this podcast.

ELP Highlight

My name is Sarah Nash and I am eighteen years old. I grew up in Greensboro, North Carolina. I have been in Teen Challenge- Columbus Girls Academy for ten months. My Sarah Nashchildhood was pretty good, but I had always had behavioral issues growing up. When I got into high school I began using drugs and alcohol to help me get through my days. I got in trouble with the law some and soon after that my parents sent me to Teen Challenge. Being here has shown me how God uses everyone in many different ways for His glory. He showed me that His purpose for me is to not waste my days, but instead to proclaim His message to all people. I believe that being in the Emerging Leader’s Program will help me grow in my walk with God and show me things that Gods wants me to learn.

Rep’s Link

ELP Events

Registration is now open for the ELP Summit, April 23-25. If you and your students are planning to attend, go ahead and reserve your spot! Remember to indicate your t-shirt size and the sizes of your students when you register.

Level I Adult

This month our core course is Core Values and our text: Our Core Values by our very own Dr. Jerry Nance. Our Core Values connect our people to our culture. We are encouraged to practice these 7 values every day; during our operations, our decisions, how we act and what we believe. Dr. J says “my prayer is that this book will challenge you to become a person of integrity and compassion, who is full of vision and faith.” “I trust you will apply these truths in your community, and practice stewardship, and servanthood.”

Level I Adolescent

Our course for the Adolescent track is Discover Your Purpose and our text: Chazown by Craig Groetschel. Chazown (pronounced khaw-ZONE) from the Hebrew, meaning a dream, revelation, or vision. You were born with your own Chazown. Do you know what it is? God calls us to live on purpose, keeping the end in view. God’s vision for you is bigger than you can imagine and impossible for you to do on your own.


Monthly Book Orders and Grades

Southeast region Rep’s can go to Google Drive and search for ELP Monthly Order Form and Grade Sheet Edited. Look for your center’s name in the tabs at the bottom and fill in your center’s information. No need to save or email the spreadsheet (Google Drive saves it and I can access the info from my Drive). If you place an initial order on the form and update the order later (i.e. add 2 more books) after we have ordered your books, please send Kerry Pevey (ELP Admin Asst) an email at kerry.pevey@teenchallenge.cc. Blessings!

Level II

ELP Summit

Registration is open for the ELP Summit Apr 23-25. If you have not already done so, go ahead and register. This year is the 10th Anniversary of the ELP and we are excited to celebrate with you, our Emerging Leaders for aspiring to greater levels of responsibility within Teen Challenge.


This month we welcome Dawn Gallagher (Pen W), Billy Crocker (Southwest FL M), Becca Price (Women at the Well, PA) and Justin Hartmann (Jax) to the Level II. I’m looking forward to work with you and see how God matures you and your leadership over the next few months.


Congratulations to Lisa Collier, Stephanie McGreevy, Kristy Sewell (Women at the Well), Hannah Larson (Columbus Girls) and Thomas Payne (Jax) for moving on to your electives!

Core Courses

Our next Core Course is Leadership Principles and our book: 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell. Maxwell talks about how leadership requires you to do 21 Laws PICmore than one thing well. To do leadership well, we must do 21 things well. Whether you are a follower who is just beginning to discover the impact of leadership or a natural leader who already has followers, you can become a better leader. No matter where you are in the leadership process, the greater the number of laws you learn, the better leader you will become.

We will send you the DVD set from the office. When the course is finished please return the DVD’s, if not your center will be charged the cost ($299) of the DVD’s. Your first post will be up on the forum Monday, March 16th

3 Things Leaders Do to Change History

Most everyone who is involved with Teen Challenge knows the story of David Wilkerson from the book, “The Cross and the Switchblade.” When David Wilkerson was just a 26 year old preacher he heard God calling him to sell his TV and spend the last two hours of each day in prayer. To his surprise, the next day he sold the TV for the exact price that he had in mind for it. Then he began to spend his nights in prayer and seeking the Lord. David Wilkerson had no idea that not only would this time in prayer change his life but it would also forever change history.

19 days into this new experiment he had a radical encounter with the Lord when he saw a Life magazine article about a young boy named Michael Farmer who was killed by a gang in New York City. As he looked at the article he heard the Lord speak to his heart that he was supposed to go help those boys. The thought would not go away. It filled his heart with such an unction that the very next night he stood in front of his small country church to try and raise enough money to drive to New York City and help the boys in the gang. He had such an encounter that suddenly he was filled with a boldness and a passion for pursuing the unknown. He now had an unnatural measure of courage because he had a word from God that had possessed him.

There are some really amazing observations that I want to make from this story and also I want to talk about how this story can really apply to our lives today. I see that first of all David Wilkerson was willing to step out and sell his TV. I also notice that he was willing to sacrifice and give up an extended period of time each night to be with The Lord. Lastly, I see that he was simply obedient with the word that the Lord gave him. These three things all brought David Wilkerson to a place where he was positioned to receive a word from Heaven that would not only change him but all of history. We are called to change history and impact the world around us.

What separates leaders who simply controls and those who change history?

They are willing to do the following:

1. Step Out

Many times God calls us to do things that are really unusual. When we listen to Him this opens up the ability for Him to break into the everyday and ordinary places of our lives. We can become so complacent and comfortable and it is in these times that he challenges our faith and brings us to new places. We must be willing to step out if we want to step into the destiny that God has for us as world-changers.

This is demonstrated to us through the story of Peter when he steps out onto the water towards Jesus. That act of faith is what separated him from every other person that was in that boat. All of the men in the boat were disciples of Christ but Peter stood out because he was willing to step out. We see the fruit of this willingness in Acts Chapter two when he is the first to step out and boldly proclaim the Kingdom of Heaven to those in Jerusalem. The church was birthed because of Peter’s willingness to step out. God is calling each of us to do the same!

2. Sacrifice

Everything great that we do in life requires that we sacrifice other “good” things for the “greater.” We make sacrifices and choices every single day on the way we spend our time. We may sacrifice time watching a football game to be with our kids or sacrifice our relationships with friends to pursue a deeper relationship with our finance. Sacrifice is natural and is something that we all do each and every day. Every decision we make in life bears fruit in our lives. When we are willing to sacrifice some “good” things in our life for the better things that God is calling us to is when we begin to step into our destiny as world changers.

We can see an example of this in the life of John the Baptist. He was set apart as a forerunner of the coming Messiah even while he was still in his mother’s womb. Even though he had angels tell his mother that he was to be especially set apart from birth he still had to make a choice whether or not to comply. He was set apart in a Nazarite type vow and chose not to partake of certain things because God had a special plan and a special purpose for his life. Because of his obedience in this and making such a huge sacrifice he got one of the coolest privileges in all of history… He got to baptize Jesus! God has huge plans for each of us and when we are willing to sacrifice the good for the best then we are able to step into them.

3. Simply Obey

Once we have pressed in through sacrifice and stepping out God will eventually give us a word that will not only change us but will also possess us. This is what happened to David Wilkerson. He waited on the Lord until he had been given a word that absolutely possessed him and drove him along the path of his destiny in Christ. After we have received the word it is important that we practice simple obedience and do what God has shown us to do. When we begin to walk in this simple obedience to his word then we will begin to see greater miracles than we ever could have imagined!

When Jesus told the man to go wash in the river to receive healing the man practiced simple obedience by going and washing even though it made no sense at all. Because of his simple obedience to Jesus he was healed of blindness as recorded in John 9. This man’s simple obedience led to an astounding miracle! When we walk in simple obedience to the Holy Spirit we will see even greater things in our lives.

I believe that God is calling each of us to consider how He might be calling us to step out and where we can make sacrifices. He has even greater things for our life than we could ever even imagine but sometime we are too complacent to find out what these things might be. I feel like He is calling each of us to take some time to consider what He might be calling us to do. I can only wonder what might happen if the body of Christ began to set aside 2 hours each night like David Wilkerson did for those 19 days. The Lord is just waiting for people who are willing to step out, sacrifice and simply obey.

Andrew Chalmers



The Potential of Leadership

If you’ve been around the ELP long enough you know that we can’t use John Maxwell’s
quote often enough: “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” Leadership holds great responsibility and it wields sobering power, for good or bad. It has the ability to shape ideologies and cultures, influence the destinies of people, and rally people around a common cause or organize people to accomplish huge things. Ken Blanchard’s definition of leadership is still my favorite: “the capacity to influence others by unleashing their power and potential to impact the greater good.” Of course leadership can impact the greater bad as well…and that’s what we love to see at Teen Challenge, a person’s leadership capacity re-directed from a negative influence to a positive influence through Christ.

This year in the ELP newsletter we’ll be exploring the awesome potential of leadership toRedwood Hiking unleash the capacity within people, impact the greater good, and bring glory to God! And we’re going to look to a tree as our example. Not just any tree, but the giant Redwoods of northern California. If you’ve never seen these trees you’ve probably heard about their staggering size and seemingly eternal life-span. But this isn’t just about the American tendency to get caught up in the “biggest” and “oldest” and “best”, this isn’t about leadership impact based on the number of people you lead, the size of organization you run, or the length of time you’ve been a leader. This is about the God-given capacity each of us has been entrusted with. This is about wanting our lives to impact the greatest good and bring God as much glory as possible by unleashing this capacity to its fullest. So there’s no comparison game here, we’re only responsible to develop the unique capacity God has measured out to each of us. So if you don’t know a lot about Redwoods, let me attempt to paint the picture.

I had the opportunity to visit the Redwoods in 2006 and had an encounter I wasn’t expecting. These trees were grand beyond description, like the Queen of Sheba going to visit Solomon and saying, ‘the half had not been told.’ I felt I had truly entered another world, another realm or another time. I couldn’t take a walk among these trees without constantly pausing, jaw dropped and imagination conflicted, contemplating the girth and mass of the trunks, neck strained in an unsuccessful attempt to view the tops of the trees. It is impossible for the literature to exaggerate in their descriptions of an encounter with these trees. Writers liberally borrow architectural, religious and mythical vocabulary which still seems to fall short in communicating their “other-worldliness”.  R. A. Rasp says, “The hushed atmosphere of a cathedral redwood forest engenders feelings of awe and reverence. An ambience of gigantism humbles the mind but enriches the spirit.” These trees can grow more than 350’ in height (that’s like a 35 story building…) and up to 22’ in diameter, and somewhere in these forests are trees that were seedlings when Jesus walked the earth.

When I returned home after my time in the Redwoods, it hit me that what I once would have considered to be a mature stand of trees now looked like mere shrubs! An old oak tree, a giant relative to its setting, was no longer as impressive. The thought came to me: what if the lives we are living are mere shrubbery as well? Suppose God intended something far grander for His creation? While learning about these trees at the various National Park visitor centers, I felt like I had read about this place somewhere before. These trees were flourishing in a landscape that sounded very similar to a landscape described in the first few pages of Genesis before the account of the flood in Chapter 6. Walking among these trees felt like a glimpse of Eden, felt like you could once again literally walk with God in the cool of the day. In the wake of Adam and Eve’s fall, as they were escorted to the county line of Eden, certainly the reality must have hit hard when they saw the sign that said, “Leaving Eden, Now Entering Shrubberyville.” We’ve had a sense of restlessness with Shrubberyville ever since, but we’ve settled because it’s all we’ve ever known, all we ever thought there was. Maybe we’ve convinced ourselves to be content with lives that only seem big because we had no other reference point. In the book Rising Above, Wayne Cordeiro says, “God is not concerned that we will dream too big. He is more concerned that we will settle for far too little.”

The Redwoods tell me that we haven’t yet envisioned the fullness of what God intended for us and what He intends to accomplish through us. He knows us so well, has created us so uniquely, and has a journey that is hand-tailored for us, for our joy and His glory! Join me as we learn leadership lessons from the mighty Redwood and grow in our capacity and unleash our potential and the potential of those we have the privilege of influencing. Let’s let Jesus get all that He died for!

They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”   – Psalm 19:3-4

Article contributed by: Karissa Corpeny (Director of Corporate Training, TCSE)


Level II Link

Current Course

We are just 2 posts away from finishing Values in Leadership and our text: People First by Jack Lannom.  you can slow mail or fax me your Personal Action Plans at the end of the course. These will be graded as your final assessment so if you are not caught up, now is a good time to do so.



Core Courses

Our next Core Course is Strategic Planning and Decision Making and our book: Executive Values by Kurt Senske. This book combines two aspects of Exec Values PICorganizational leadership not often mentioned in the same breath: getting results and integrating Christian values within an organization. Executive Values serves as a roadmap for incorporating faith and values into everyday organizational life. He demonstrates how doing well and doing good are inextricably linked, and provides a comprehensive strategy for utilizing Christian values to achieve organizational goals. Your first post will be up on Monday, Feb 16th.

Rep’s Link

ELP Events

Seeing time seems to be going faster than I can type, I want to get these dates on your calendar for this year: our 10th. Anniversary ELP Summit will be April 23-25th and our Rep’s Retreat will be May 7- 9th at Lakeside Retreat and Event Center, Seale, AL. Look out for our Summit promo video next month. Please keep these two events in prayer and make plans to be there!

Level I Adult

This month our core course is Servant Leadership and our text: Lead Like Jesus by Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges. Blanchard asks the questions “Who will you follow? How will you lead?” There is one leadership role model you can trust and His name is Jesus. There is a way to lead that honors God and restores health and effectiveness to organizations and relationships. It is the way Jesus calls us to follow as leaders: to serve rather than to be served.

Level I Adolescent

Our course for the Adolescent track is Servant Leadership and our text: Help! I’m a Student Leader by Doug Fields. “The backbone of Christian leadership is simple to understand yet very difficult to pull off: Serve. Master this task and you’ll become a very powerful servant leader. If servant doesn’t describe you right now, don’t give up. Read and pray and ask God to mold you into the type of leader He wants you to become.”

Monthly Book Orders and Grades

Southeast region Rep’s can go to Google Drive and search for ELP Monthly Order Form and Grade Sheet Edited. Look for your center’s name in the tabs at the bottom and fill in your center’s information. No need to save or email the spreadsheet (Google Drive saves it and I can access the info from my Drive). If you place an initial order on the form and update the order later (i.e. add 2 more books) after we have ordered your books, please send Kerry Pevey (ELP Admin Asst) an email at kerry.pevey@teenchallenge.cc. Blessings!