Creating Leaders- 2 Leadership Truths

The goals of many leaders and their organizations can be somewhat predictable. Growth, prosperity, influence, and of course, success is what many strive for even in faith-based organizations. In ministry, one could even argue that God would be pleased with any of the above if sought after with the right intentions. There is one thing about being faith-based, or faith-centered as an organization that we must remember as we head into the future with big dreams and impactful goals. We have to be willing to walk into that future utilizing our FAITH and one way God expands our organization, while growing our faith, is by challenging us to develop other leaders. I believe that investing in the right people now will set our organization up for the growth and expansion God is calling us into over the next couple of years.

The Making of a Leader. When Jesus asked Peter to step out of the boat and onto the water, he was asking for his full and complete trust. Peter knew in his heart that because his Lord asked him to do this seemingly impossible task, he could do it. He stepped out. However, once he began walking on the water, that miracle in and of itself was not enough to keep Peter focused. He doubted. He took his eyes off of the One who was empowering him to defy the laws of nature. This lesson is often one that good leaders must remember to protect themselves from repeating history. Leaders can be quick to jump out of the boat, but even quicker to lose focus and shift attention elsewhere. Does this sound familiar in your workplace? Church? Family? Its human nature to do so and a gentle reminder as to why we need to constantly be connected to Christ. Jesus knew Peter would struggle, but still began working in his life (early) as He developed a man who would one day be known all throughout the world as a key leader in the early church!

Here at Sandhills Adult & Teen Challenge we have been blessed with a very strong ministerial and organizational foundation. Leaders have been successfully developed over the years and some still serve in this organization today. In fact, they can be credited for helping the organization transition from its founders. That’s no easy task! Each leader on this team has been handed a lot of responsibility and each one shares the task of carrying the load by making sure the organization continues to thrive so we can meet hundreds of needs each year. It’s a tall order, but every member of this team is committed to the mission. That mission includes identifying future leaders and then working diligently to develop them.

Leadership Truth 1: Great leaders know this: Commitment to the mission, not an individual, tradition, or anything else that takes our eyes off what we are called to do is the key to creating and sustaining a successful organization!

It is our goal to be “Mission-Focused.” When an organization is mission-focused….everything… evaluated by how it contributes to, or takes away from the MISSION. A mission-focused organization is not easily swayed by trends, personalities, leaders, or the promise of funding opportunities, new buildings, etc.. It remains steadfast at accomplishing the mission and for Adult & Teen Challenge, the centerpiece of our mission is Christ! Matthew 6:33 states, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” This is a lesson all of our leaders must learn if they are going to be successful.

How are we creating leaders at Sandhills ATC? Earlier this year, Jeff Gautier and Andrew Fitzgibbon began a new chapter for this organization. Each of these men (and graduates of our program) set off to navigate “new waters” and are in the process of becoming organizational LEADERS. Jeff is the Center Director at ATC of the Coastal Plains, and Andrew is the Center Director of ATC Kannapolis. Andrew is also the Community Outreach Director in Concord. Both developing leaders are beginning to operate more independently from our main office/campus in Southern Pines. This means that each director, while helping the organization expand its reach within North Carolina, is beginning to seek God’s will and direction for their own centers, while keeping it aligned with Sandhills ATC’s corporate vision and mission statements. They are doing so with less direct instruction from our corporate team concerning the day-to-day programming, church and donors relations, and even outreaches and events. I believe that leaders create leaders, and then leaders allow and encourage those leaders to lead (say that a few times!). Andrew and Jeff, in remaining mission-focused, will quickly find success and begin to see their centers take on a life of their own within each community!

Leadership Truth 2: Supporting new leaders by helping them navigate through some initial mistakes, while celebrating the victories along the way is the role of a successful corporate leadership team.

I am thankful for our corporate leadership team: Steve, Brian, Alec, & Nelson. Each of these men emulate the two leadership truths and have been instrumental in our leadership development program. They teach, guide, train, and when ready, release the new leader into his new role apart from the corporate team (or the main campus), serving as the new leader’s support systems and organizational coaches. There are up and coming leaders being developed today that will remember these men long after they have completed their mission at Sandhills ATC.

When I look back on my career with Adult & Teen Challenge, I remember those who gave me the reigns and allowed me to navigate my own way. They watched, coached, corrected, encouraged, and celebrated….all while helping me to build confidence to LEAD and to do so more effectively as I gained valuable experience. I want this to be said of our our team by every leader we help establish.

For more information on our team, visit

Russ Cambria, Executive Director/CEO