Root and Fruit of Behavior

Last time I wrote about the importance of conflict resolution and how confrontation is going to happen. It’s a good thing if we’re intentional about it and treat people with love. The next step as a leader is to recognize that often times we are confronting a symptom to the real issue…an issue stemming from deep wounds of the heart.

I referenced a story at the ELP Summit & Staff Day, remember that man in Teen Challenge that was eating dinner after a long day of work and study reading his mail? The one that burst into a fit of rage upon opening a letter from his wife. Curse words, tables and chairs being tossed around angrily…picture that…it’s at that point as a leader we make a choice on how to best handle that person. Do you match their level of aggression and demand respect? Or do you ask yourself the important questions like; was the food just that bad? Did their football team lose? There is an obvious behavioral issue here, but what’s really going on? The important question to ask yourself is, what is going on inside that person and what does he need from me at this moment – confrontation or love?

He just received life altering news and doesn’t need confrontation, he needs your understanding and love. You can teach him how to respond to hard things and confront him on his behavior, but in that moment he needs to know nothing but that the Father loves him and sees his pain.

John Maxwell uses this diagram to show there are surface habits and behaviors that give us a window into the heart of the real issues at play. He argues that ultimately, it all stems from an issue with self-worth. If you believe you have no value, you will naturally find unhealthy ways to compensate for it.

I heard another story recently of a staff member who went to his leader and wanted to release a student that continued to have behavioral issues. The staff was very upset that the student would call himself a Christian and still cause the problems he was. The leader responded with a simple thought, “That’s why he’s here!” You see, we as leaders and stewards of this great call to give hope to hurting people, cannot be surprised when students don’t react as they should, or outbursts happen. It may demand more effort for us at that moment, but how you respond in those moments as a leader will speak to that student for years to come. Did you respond with love and understanding? Did you confront with love? Or did you throw a discipline at him and kick him out?

Don’t get me wrong, I am for boundaries and use them to guide and direct people towards a disciplined life before God on a regular basis. However, I would like to challenge us as leaders to always be mindful that discipline is only beneficial if it’s pointing people back to Christ. If not, we are training people to act right, not be right. That’s behavioral change and it only lasts for a short season. We want to be people that speak to the root of the issue and guide people towards healing and a life in Christ.

This week, identify that person who is a consistent source of conflict and diagnose the need. Do they need to be confronted? Or do they need to be loved on? As leaders we must rely on the Holy Spirit for discernment and wisdom to see these times as opportunities to guide someone towards Christ whether through healthy confrontation or blessing them.

Article by: Dustin Nance – Divisional Leader, Training and Hope Outreach – TCSE

ELP Highlights

My name is Elizabeth Hyde and I am from Tuscaloosa, Alabama. I am also a graduate of Elizabeththe Alabama Teen Challenge Women’s Center in Hayden, Alabama. Even though I had everything a girl could ever want, there was always a void in my life. My father’s suicide just widened that canyon. I rapidly spiraled out of control by use of prescription pills. When I was diagnosed with a rare tumor in college my addiction was justified. I almost ended up just like my father. I was homeless and on the brink of death when I cried out for help. Due to some bad decisions I had made, I spent 118 days incarcerated and that was when I found out about Teen Challenge. I had heard of it before through several failed rehab attempts. I went to Teen Challenge and was healed by the power of Jesus Christ!

My purpose is to facilitate change through the hope I have been given! ELP is deepening my roots in the ministry to grow deeper in my walk with The Lord. I am eternally grateful for Teen Challenge!

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.

 

Enriched Culture – Accurately Acknowledge Who People Are

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“Catherine Lawes was a young mother with three children when her husband became warden at Sing Sing prison. When the first prison basketball game was held, she attended with her three young kids and sat in the stands with the inmates. She insisted on getting to know them and their records.She discovered one convicted murderer was blind so she visited him over the next several months and taught him how to read Braille. Later, Catherine found a deaf-mute in prison. She went to school to learn how to use sign language so they could talk. Many said that Catherine was like having Jesus visiting Sing Sing prison from 1921 – 1937” (Habitudes 4).  After Catherine was killed suddenly in a car accident in 1937, all the inmates were allowed to walk to her home unsupervised to pay their respects and every one of them returned to the prison that night.

Danny Silk describes in his book A Culture of Honor one of the principles of this culture as “accurately acknowledging who people are will position us to give them what they deserve, and to receive the gift of who they are in our lives.”

A culture of honor starts with us accurately acknowledging the person God has brought to us; we can only do this when we recognize their God-given identities and roles. Sometimes because of what we see when a student enters our program, it takes a bit of Diamond in the Roughmining to find the diamond in the rough, the pearl in the oyster – but it’s there.

And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.  But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” ~ 1 Peter 2:4-5, 9.

“In a culture of honor leaders lead with honor by courageously treating people in their God-given identity and not according to the aliases they receive from others” ~ Silk.  Ever wondered why God changed Abram’s name to Abraham and Sarai’s name to Sarah, and many others who received name changes in the Bible? It was usually to establish their new identity. Names speak destiny over the person. Imagine when God said ‘Abraham,’ each time He spoke ‘father of a multitude.’ He was actively speaking over Abraham his destiny. “Father, Mother, son, daughter, pastor, apostle, prophet, Christian, human being – defines a person’s role and identity and when used correctly, establish God-designed relationships in which specific rewards are given and received to build and strengthen us” ~ Silk. A son will always be a son, a daughter will always be a daughter, a pastor will always have a shepherd’s heart.

Application

What would happen if we started accurately acknowledging the new identities of each person that walks through our TC doors? Ask yourself, “what is special, unique, and wonderful about this person? Then share what you see with the person and with others. Speak their life-purpose and destinies over them.

Those who come to us as students should leave as sons and daughters as well.