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)


Angela Hastings

“Nothing is more appropriate than getting excited when God does something in our lives.” ~ Beth Moore

I find it interesting that the last time I posted on my blog was in August. But I don’t find it coincidental. I won’t even blame it on the busyness. It has to do with the fact that God has been doing a major revamping in my life and in my heart. Most of you know that in August, I started life coach training. Part of that training was meeting with one of our instructors for personal coaching. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the concept of Christian life coaching, it’s helping someone discover what God is doing in their lives and helping them to cooperate with Him. What I realized personally, was coaching provided the optimal environment for change. I don’t think we ever really even talked about the big thing that I wanted/needed to change in my life more than once. But over the course of six sessions in 4 months, God changed my heart and my attitude about the thing that was giving me the most trouble. Having an open door to deep, meaningful, intentional conversation and relationship, without the fear of being judged, with the freedom to make mistakes, and with the accountability to take action on what God is telling me to do made a HUGE impact on my life.

You know how scientists tell us that the earth is exactly the right distance from the Sun, and it’s at the exact right tilt so that there can be be life on earth? The conditions are perfect, even though right now some of you would beg to differ because your weather is a little inclement. But ultimately we thrive because of our environment. Coaching is like that perfect environment for thriving. Even now God is giving me a reminder of the sweet babies in Romania that were left all alone in their cribs and failed to thrive. It’s because they lacked relationships. It’s because they didn’t have the love and support they needed to grow. Now, I know that meaningful relationships are not limited to the field of coaching, but I also know that in our chaotic, busy lives, we rarely take the time, energy, and effort to get real and to let others get real.

People, God is at work; He is speaking to us. But if we don’t wake up and do something about it, we are going to miss out. We are not intended to walk through this life alone. And we definitely do not grow best on our own. We are meant to share life together. We are meant to challenge one another. We are meant to confess our faults to one another and to say “This is where I’m really struggling. Please pray for me; I want to change.” We are meant to take what God is saying to us and do something about it. There’s nothing magical about coaching. But it forced me to ask the questions:

What is God doing in my life?
What is God saying to me?
And what am I going to do about it?

And then,  I did it! No, God did it! God did something in my life. And He wants to do something in yours also.

Written by Angela Hastings (ELP REP Hosanna House TC, Jacksonville, FL)