CONNECTION

Connecting with others has always been difficult for me. Even as a kid, I only had a handful of close friends. I have never been someone that had to have tons of people around me to call friends. I loved people and wanted to be in relationship with them, but I just didn’t “need” very many deep connections. Even in College I was content with my 5 or 6 close friends and made no effort with anyone passed that.

I remember so clearly a defining moment in my life when God taught me the importance of connecting with others. It was in the summer of 2007, my wife and I had just stepped into full time ministry with Teen Challenge. We had just moved, started going to a new church and joined a cell group with 3 other couples. The guys were all out going and ready to be vulnerable, I was resistant at first but soon they drew me out of my shell.

Now to the defining moment…

Janel and I were going through some difficult circumstances and I had become very angry with God, our situation, and began to get bitter at life in general. I went to that cell group reluctantly one evening not wanting to open up or be vulnerable, I was fine…just fine. The guys saw through that front and pushed me to open up. It ended with them pushing Janel out of the way to surround me while I ugly cried…tears, snot and all. They hugged me, cried with me, prayed for me and encouraged me. God broke through some walls in my life that had been there for as long as I could remember.

The Bible is full of examples on the importance of connecting with others. In Matthew 22:37-40 Jesus said, Love God & Love People, in Matthew 18:20 He said He is with us when two or three gather in His name, in John 15:12-15 we see Christ telling us to love each other enough to be willing to lay down our lives for each other, in Hebrews 10:24-25 the writer encourages us to meet together and spur each other towards love, in Ephesians 4:2-3 Paul tells us to live in unity and the list goes on and on.

We as Christians are a part of the body of Christ and therefore we must live in connection with one another, but it is that much more true for Christians who work together on a daily basis. In Teen Challenge SE Region, over the past 2 years, I can’t tell you how many times I have heard “it’s all about the we not the me”. This is absolutely counter culture to the world we live in. Jon Gordon says it like this, “The message they (we) receive from the world is that it’s all about the individual, not the team. It’s about me, not we.”

We know the importance of connecting with one another, but often times we are not intentional in our efforts to connect with each other. We assume it will happen over time or we intend to do it, but never get around to it. Meaningful connections don’t happen by accident. You must be intentional as you are trying to build connectivity as a team and in your walk with Christ.

Ask yourself some key questions today:

  • Are you intentionally building connection with those around you?
  • How can you improve those connections?
  • What are some distractions you can put boundaries on?

 

Article written by: Dustin Nance, Divisional Leader of Training

Source: You Win in the Locker Room, by Jon Gordon and Mike Smith

COMMUNICATION – The Foundation of Strong Relationships

If you’ve worked at Teen Challenge long enough, we’ve all been there. You have a church rally, banquet, work crew, or something else of importance about to happen. Where is the van we are taking? It’s out on the town somewhere and no one signed it out. Where is the crew leader or student for this job? They were assigned somewhere else for the day and no one was notified. Who is supposed to be on duty right now? Where are they? No matter what the case, it’s a flat out communication breakdown.

Fires happen and chaos can come at any time, and adapting to the mayhem of each day can be a feat of its own, but many of these things can be prevented or improved. What’s the magic ingredient? You got it—communication.  But even much deeper than a practical, day-to-day communication, we must be in tune to the spiritual and mental well-being of those around us, especially those we lead.

Jon Gordon writes, “Communication is the foundation for every great relationship. Communication builds trust. Trust creates commitment. Commitment fosters teamwork, and teamwork drives results. Without great communication you don’t have the trust to build a strong relationship, and without relationships you can’t have a strong team.”

So there we have it, to have a strong team and great results, we must have relationships based upon trust and commitment, good communication being the means on how we achieve this.  I want to challenge all of us: Do you communicate well with your team or to your students? Do you truly know what the “pulse” is on your campus at any given time? Are we seeing more lives being transformed due to a strong team because of communication? I believe as a Region we will see more people impacted for Christ through our programs as our staff, interns and other leaders continue to raise the bar on communication and relationships.

 

Article written by: Dan Williams

Source: You Win in the Locker Room First, author Jon Gordon

CONSISTENCY

When I think of consistency, the words discipline and choice come to mind. For some this may not be the most natural correlation, but in leadership it is essential. It’s easy to be consistent when you are good at something, enjoy the task at hand, or when things are going smoothly. However, it can be a different story when you are being challenged to grow or when change is happening around you. Author Jon Gordon, in his book titled, You Win in the Locker Room First talks about the fact that being consistent isn’t easy, it takes effort.

Consistency ultimately comes down to making a choice…we have to decide daily to be disciplined and determine what we want our influence to look like. Some of the greatest leaders in history are memorable simply because of the fact that they have a deep desire to consistently be excellent in all areas. This attitude comes from a life-long journey of discipline. We can’t expect this trait to be developed overnight. The more consistent we are in our personal lives and in leadership, the more of an impact we have in building relationships. We have to choose to “walk into the locker room” and cultivate relationships based on unwavering attitudes, efforts, and actions. Consistency ultimately leads to trust. This act of discipline ultimately allows us to make more of an impact for the Kingdom.

Author John C. Maxwell, in his book titled The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth writes, “Small disciplines repeated with consistency everyday lead to great achievements gained slowly over time.” It starts with the small things. Challenge yourself to reflect inwardly on the areas your life that could use more discipline.  Be honest and ask yourself, “In what areas of my life do I see inconsistencies?” This isn’t a challenge towards perfectionism, or to compare yourself with the greatest leaders or all time. It’s simply a challenge to look at the challenge in front of you and choose attack it with an attitude that moves towards excellence.

Article written by: Holly Williams

CONTAGIOUS ATTITUDE

We could all probably muster up images of any number of movies where people are in bio-hazard suits to protect them from something contagious. We also probably can all think of someone we’ve been around where we wished we had better protection from the negative energy that had an effect on us. Or maybe it’s been ourselves that displayed a poor attitude to others. Either way, a leader’s attitude has a substantial impact on everyone around them.

Peter Stark stated, “One of the greatest gifts a leader can bring to a team is self-awareness and an understanding of their attitude and the impact it plays on relationships, the performance of their team, and everyone around them.” In the Southeast Region, we believe that having a Contagious Attitude means being people of optimism and belief—positive through every situation and full of confidence that we will succeed. Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right.”

As we look at our mission to Put Hope Within Reach, the only way we will accomplish this is by attacking every obstacle with optimism and belief. If you really think about it, it’s impossible to have belief and not optimism, or to have optimism and not belief. They go hand in hand. What would it look like on our campuses if every obstacle were approached with the attitude of, “We can do this!” instead of “There’s no way this is possible!” What would it look like on our campuses if complaining was obsolete? What would it look like if camaraderie and teamwork created a momentum that nothing could stop? Our president Dr. Nance has stated, “Momentum allows you to make a few mistakes, because your momentum allows you to only observe the mistake for a short time and then it’s behind you. Without momentum you get to see your mistake for a long time and it takes too much of your time and attention. Momentum is the greatest friend a leader has.”

I believe that we can have such a positive culture in Teen Challenge, that it would be impossible for anyone to come in contact with us and not know they experienced something different. Let’s let our positive attitudes impact everyone around us!

Article written by: Dan Williams

CULTURE – Fight For It!

We have been experiencing change as an organization. As a leadership team we have been looking down the road and planning for the future, but before any of that could happen we knew that we had to adjust our culture as a region. It is time to align!

We have identified that we will have these values as an organization:

-Courageous Leadership

-Contagious Attitude

-Continuous Improvement

In the book, You Win in the Locker Room First, author Mike Smith makes it clear that culture is important and worth fighting for. He writes about coming into the Falcons Organization, ready to focus in on the culture from top to bottom. He spent time with every group of employee’s from the players, owner and senior staff all the way to the food service people and custodians. He said, “I’ve always believed that culture is defined and created from the top down, but it comes to life from the bottom up.”

I have always been a big believer that we all own the responsibility for the culture around us. I have charged many students and staff through the years to be “culture changers” or “to bring a good culture with them” wherever they go. Basically, we all own the responsibility of our culture at every level of leadership.

In a recent meeting, Brice Maddock, explained that our culture is defined by what we create, but also what we allow. I believe this is a charge to fight for our organizational culture. He went on to say, “We must commit ourselves to build a great culture – we must build it, live it, value it, reinforce it, and fight for it.

We get to be a part of an amazing move of God that is literally saving lives and restoring them. What we do on a daily basis has an eternal value. Own the culture around you, do your part to live out the 3 C’s and we will see God do amazing things through us all!

Article Written by: Dustin Nance

Source – You Win in the Locker Room First, by Jon Gordon and Mike Smith – Chapter 1