ELP Highlight – Mar 2016

My nSteven Newmaname is Steven Newman. I was born in Augusta, GA.  I grew up in a wonderful and loving family. My parents were always there for me and still are to this day. My mother has always been a very godly woman, so I was raised up in Christian schools. High school is where it all started. I got with the wrong group of guys and stole a car, went to the mall, and robbed a woman. We got caught and I received probation. I continued with my madness and started selling drugs. I got caught and got out again with probation. My mother and father would always hire me the best lawyers and getting me out of trouble. So, eventually I didn’t worry about getting caught. I continued selling and was successful. Everything Satan wants us to have is to blind us from GOD. Houses, Boats, Cars, Motorcycles, anything you want.

Well I got caught again, and had the best lawyer so I knew with enough money I would get out. But this time, I remember my lawyer telling me “Steven I can no longer take your case the feds want you. I cannot win.” I knew then I was going to prison. Plus the feds wanted me to give information to them, which I could not do. My boss knew where my mother, brother, and whole family lived. Yes, I feared him! So I wouldn’t cooperate. I was sent to Prison 5 different federal penitentiaries.

From 1999 to 2012 I was in and out of Federal Prison system. When I got out I met a wonderful Christian woman. I had a great job everything was great. However,  I fell Into Satan’s hands again. A certain woman moved next door and eventually I started going over to her house and using meth, heroine and partying again. I never would have thought I would become a junkie. The same person I sold to—I had become. My girlfriend left me after the other woman told her everything when she was intoxicated one night. I lost everything and was living out of my truck, begging my mother for money, and taking showers at the truck stop. On top of that, I was facing multiple new charges.

My brother and mom came and got me out of jail and I came home. I realized I needed help when my daughter told me “Baylin (my son) has a step dad who sits on the couch all day and a dad who he watched grow up in prison to look up to.” The very next day I searched for rehabs and came across Teen Challenge. They took me immediately. I made a commitment to myself and my family that no matter what I would be straight for a year. Satan has yet to steal my victory. God has restored my relationship with my beautiful twins and my family!

Now, I’m the one chosen to do the prayers at special occasions. I also serve food to the homeless, and talk to drug addicts every chance I get to share the hope of Jesus with them. Only God could make that change.  I graduated from Middle Georgia Teen Challenge in July 2015 and have recently finished my 6 month internship. I’m in the ELP program where I’m learning leadership roles. I have the responsibility of work project coordinator. I’m still currently here at Teen Challenge 20 months later because I honestly feel God’s calling to this ministry and to give back to the young adults to keep them from going down the path I went through.

Enrich Culture – More than a Mission

We continue in our “E5” season of “Enriching Culture”. It might not seem very strategic to you, I mean there are places to go and drug addicts to save. We’re on a mission here. Is all this “culture stuff” really necessary? I’d like to propose that after cultivating a life of prayer, the most important thing a leader can do is build a healthy, flourishing culture for the teams they leadSure, ultimately leadership and team is about results – accomplishing tasks, goals and the mission.In Teen Challenge, we’re all sold out to the mission of offering life-transformation through Christ, so what difference does culture make?

Imagine two row boats in a race: boat #1 has 10 rowers vigorously rowing in sync, in the TC Crew Logo - Trimmed -TBsame direction, cheering each other on. Boat #2 has 5 rowers rowing in the same direction (but not quite in sync and not quite all out), 2 rowers who are arguing about which direction to row, 1 rower who is asleep, 1 rower who is rowing in the opposite direction, and 1 rower who is trying to sink the boat. Which boat wins? Culture is the single factor that will determine what is happening in your boat. A healthy culture is like the fertile soil that yields a hundred-fold at harvest time, like the firm foundation a lasting structure is built upon, or like the careful planning that makes a long journey more productive. Culture is the sole responsibility of the leader – you will either build a healthy culture by intention, or allow a dysfunctional culture by default. People will get in the boat because of the mission, but they’ll get out (or get tossed overboard) if the culture is not healthy. People don’t leave organizations or missions, they leave leaders. Bill Hybels, senior leader of Willowcreek Church, says, “staff cultures will only be as healthy as the senior leader wants it to be.” A healthy culture ensures that the right people are on the boat, that they find the best seat for their gifts and strengths, that all the rowers are synced up and rowing in the same direction, that every rower is fully engaged because they show up every day exclaiming, “I was born for this! I can’t imagine doing anything else! This is what makes me feel alive!” And a healthy culture gets results.

Like the example of the two row boats above, it’s astonishing how much more productive a flourishing culture is from a dysfunctional or toxic culture. Has God called you to lead? Then He’s called you to be a culture-bearer, to build and enrich a strong and healthy team culture. There’s no short cut in cultivating culture, it takes time and effort and skill. But it will lay the foundation and create the momentum that will save much time and effort in the long run. In the upcoming series of articles, we’ll see that enriching culture is actually pretty practical, and we’ll look at how leaders enrich culture as well as reasons why leaders don’t place an importance on culture. In the meantime, how are things in your boat?

Written by: Karissa Corpeny (Director of Corporate Training, TC Southeast)