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)

 

Leading Through Forgiveness and Grace

Mercy Said “No, I’m Not Gonna Let You Go!”

As I was thumbing through the Cross and the Switchblade I came across David Wilkerson’s encounter with Nicky Cruz. As Nicky threatened to kill David, he responds Girl sad“You could cut me in a thousand pieces and lay them out in the street and every piece would love you” (C&S, p. 72). David was willing to die so that Nicky could hear how much Jesus loves him and how much he (David) loves him. It reminds me of the song by CeCe Winan “Mercy said No, I’m not gonna let you go, I’m not gonna let you slip away, you don’t have to be afraid, Mercy said no, sin will never ever take control life and death stood face to face, darkness tried to steal my heart away, thank you Jesus, mercy said no.” As servant leaders we are motivated by love because we have experienced God’s mercy and grace and we want others to experience it as well. In Lead Like Jesus, Ken Blanchard asks the questions “Why is forgiveness important as an aspect of leadership?” “Because forgiveness is the way for a heart grounded in unconditional love of God to respond to the imperfections of others.” In Teen Challenge we have many opportunities to respond to the imperfections of others – by forgiving quickly, bringing correction in love and helping our students receive and move forward. “As leaders, the journey of forgiveness must start with us; when we don’t forgive we judge with a view to condemn but when we forgive, we bring correction and restoration” (Blanchard).

“I’ll never forget the day Elaine put her finger on the quality of the love that redeems. “I’ve finally got it figured out, Reverend Wilkerson, ” said the girl. “Christ’s love is a love with no strings attached.” Christ’s love is a love that asks nothing in return. It is a love that wants only the best for these boys and girls. And this is the quality that redeems.” (C&S, p. 165).

The Life of Christ Activates Grace in Us

At our ELP Rep’s retreat Greg Hammond spoke a message on the life of Christ activating grace in us. He said “The death of Christ secured grace for us but the life of Christ activates grace in us.” When Jesus is working in the students lives, they look less and less like the world and more and more like Christ. When our students understand their position in Christ all they want to do is His will and be like their Father – Abba Father. “So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba Father.” (Rom 8:15). “Grace extends unrestrained fellowship to others in celebration of their inherent dignity as being made in God’s image and as the objects of His affection.”  – Ken Blanchard. Grace activated in our students helps them come alive to the love of Christ and the abundant life only He can give. “If we are going to enrich culture we need to connect our students to the reality of the gospel so they believe it and grace comes alive in them; they start to identify with their Father – they are no longer “self-conscious” but “son-conscious” (Hammond). As leaders, grace is activated in our relationship with the students when we are present for Girls Talkingthem, when we accept that we are limited and allow the power of the Holy Spirit to come in and bring life and light in their situation.

In what ways does the Holy Spirit want to extend forgiveness and grace in your relationships with those you lead?

“If students learn to see this grace activated in them wherever they go, the knowledge of the Lord will fill that part of the world because of His son or daughter; their feet will be shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, they’ll preach glad tidings of great joy and help fulfill their Father’s legacy and their Father’s dream – that the glory of Jesus fill all the earth.”~ Greg Hammond.

 

Enrich Culture – A Culture of Love

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 34Collage_PerfectLove1SMout 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 free_birdwho, 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).