We continue to focus on our 2nd E in our EFive – Enrich Culture. We want to talk about establishing a culture of love. A culture rich in love is not sin-conscious but love-conscious. What do the students in Teen Challenge fear the most? Another discipline, failure, punishment.
Love Transforms. A culture of love allows the Holy Spirit to do the work; not the rules. Teen Challenge and the Church, by nature, are very rules-driven. If a student breaks the rules they are punished with the expectation that it will yield a repentant heart. Therefore, our students get accustomed to disciplinary committees, disciplinary boards, disciplinary slips, 1000 lines of Psalm 1 (or whichever scripture speaks to their sins) type of Christianity. When we are so rules-driven (sin-conscious) we debilitate the power of their faith in Christ and the Holy Spirit to work to renew their minds and transform their hearts. Don’t get me wrong, rules are important to have order however, in disciplining students it should not be the first thing the staff runs to. The Apostle Paul in talking with the church in Corinth (who had similar problems of immorality, idolatry, adultery and divisions) says “if I have all the gifts and do great works, but don’t have love I am nothing” (1 Cor 13, NASB). “Love never gives up, love cares more for others than for self, love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have, love doesn’t strut; doesn’t have a swelled head, doesn’t force itself on others, isn’t always “me first,” doesn’t fly off the handle, doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, takes pleasure in flowering of truth, puts up with anything, trusts God always, always looks for the best, never looks back, but keeps going to the end” (1 Cor 13:4-7, TM). In a culture of love our students are transformed by sitting with Jesus and allowing Him (their true love) to speak to them and transform their hearts. In this culture, our staff are love-conscious; their motivation in correcting a student is to get them back in relationship with Love (God). The Holy Spirit does the convicting and we point them to Jesus Christ; the staff have no hidden agendas or selfish ambitions and students know they are loved and we are dedicated to their success.
Love casts out all fear. 1John 4:18 says “there is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out all fear, for fear has to do with punishment and the one who fears is not made perfect in love” (NIV). Fear and the penalty of death (or in TC – dismissal, disgrace and shame) is removed because of their relationship with Love – the Lord Jesus Christ. “As our students grow in love for God and the ability to receive His love, this perfect love drives away and utterly banishes all fear – “fear they’ll not be accepted, fear of not measuring up; fear of being exposed in His presence – there is no fear, or shame in love” (Hughes, Songs of Songs Study, 2014). If we are going to establish a culture of love, we have to “know how to interact with each other in such a way that eliminates the punishment option and the need to control people when they fail” (Silk, 2009, p. 81). “We have to come to the realization He sees and knows all of us and yet loves us completely in spite of our failures and immaturity, for He sees us as perfect and complete through the blood of Jesus” (Hughes, 2014). Paul writes to the Galatians “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Teach your students to protect and preserve their relationship with Christ. In doing so, the Holy Spirit will do a greater work in their hearts than you or I could ever do. Since then there is therefore no more condemnation in Christ, our students will feel safe to come to us with any problem or sin without fear of being punished, dismissed or put to shame.
Love Liberates. “The New Covenant (NT) is an internal covenant for sons and daughters who, because of their new nature, can be trusted with responsibility to govern themselves and have access to the power of self-control through the Holy Spirit” (Silk, 2009, p. 88). These are children of God who are dying to themselves and exercising self-control so that they stay connected to the flow of God’s grace that enables them to live sin-free lives” (Silk). Jesus captivates to liberate.
What is one thing you can change as a leader so you create a culture of love with those you lead? What can you do differently to create a culture of love in your organization?
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
~ Gal 5:22 (NASB).