Disappointed by A National

If you have been in missions any length of time, you have experienced disappointment with a national person you’ve trusted.

It’s not a question of if, but when.

Someone will break your trust, they might steal from you, or worse.

I know of national workers who were entrusted with a ministry only to overthrow the leader; stealing the work.

Extreme. Maybe.

But at the very least we will have people we invest in disappoint us.

It could be through sin. At times they fail in areas of money, sex, or power. Perhaps they just vanish.

I’ve recently had this happen to me…(again).

Someone I believe in and spent a lot of time with went AWOL. They fell off the deep end. The guy disappeared from the face of the Earth. Choose whatever word picture you want, he is gone.

He didn’t steal from me. There was never a hint of inappropriate action towards my wife or children. He just left.

I’m disappointed.

My story is common. So when, (again, not if), this happens how should we (I) respond?

3827201437_930f3beb32

1. Trust
The number one response when someone lets us down is to stop trusting. We view all the nationals through the lens of one person. When one lets us down, find another to invest in.

2. Hope
I’ve seen a common trend in many shame based cultures. If someone feels like they’ve failed or disappointed a mentor, the default response is flight. We need to know that raising up men and women of God is a long journey, not a sprint. There will be failings and restarts. So with the person who has let us down, we must maintain hope that they will return. Again and again, just like someone did with us.

3. View them as people, not “nationals”
Over the years, I have heard far too many negative statements about not being able to trust nationals, questions as to their motives, or false beliefs that they simply are not “civilized” enough to succeed. That’s Rubbish! They are people. Any pastor, business leader, or human being who works with people has had the same sense of disappointment we experience. People are broken. Isn’t that the ultimate reason why we do what we do?

At the end of the day, if we are not “risking” with people enough to be disappointed at times, what are we really accomplishing?

So yes, be hurt. Be disappointed. Sigh a good sigh.

Then get back up and go back and invest in someone else. Be willing to be let down again.

(Here concludes my motivational pep talk to myself……and many others)


Please lend your voice. What points would you add for dealing with disappointment?

– Chris Lautsbaugh, Missionary teacher and author with Youth With A Mission, living in S. Africa.
Blog: NoSuperHeroes   Twitter: @lautsbaugh   Facebook: NoSuperHeroes

Photo by Andy Bullock77 via Flickr

Coping With Loneliness

Have you ever found yourself asking,

“What am I doing?”
“Is this worth it?”
“Is this what we signed up for?”

If so you are not alone in your emotions, although these feelings can make you feel very isolated.

Missions and any form of leadership carries with it an aspect of loneliness. Ordinary friendships become even more difficult when we take on these positions and roles.

Dan Allendar in his excellent book, Leading With A Limp, says “Loneliness also assaults a leader when he must absorb the inevitable expressions of disappointment from others. A leader bears loneliness, but also the guilt that comes with others disappointment.”

Have you experienced this?

As a missionary, we will have great successes, but also disappoint people and fail to live up to their expectations.

Sometimes the greatest loneliness in leadership comes on the heels of our greatest success.

Elijah experienced this immediately following his miraculous defeat of the prophets of Baal recounted in 1 Kings 18. Elijah just had the ultimate missionary newsletter headline.

One chapter later he finds himself on the run from Jezebel. Look at the conversation he has with God. (1 Kings 19)

Vs. 4 “But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.”

Vs 10 “He said, “I have been jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.”

I’m the only one left!
Where are you God?
What am I doing?

God shows up in a still, small voice; reassuring him of His Presence, urging Elijah to get back to work. (1 Kings 19:11-16)

The reality of leadership and missions comes with a realization no one can fully understand all that we go through. Except God.

But even with this amazing gift of the presence of God, it feels lonely.

Dan Allender list the following loneliness inducing traits of a leader or missionary (also from Leading With A Limp.)

– The moment we take this role, others assign to us the power to do good or harm.
– Leaders often have information they are unable to share, constantly creating a situation where they could be misunderstood by people not seeing the whole picture of our decisions.
– Honoring confidentiality puts a leader in the direct path of gossip. The tough decisions which cannot be defended or explained leave leaders vulnerable and alone.

No one can fully understand a leader, what may hurt more…is often no one wants to.

This is inevitable at some point in life and ministry. When it happens, what are some things you can do minimize the loneliness?

1. Have good Relationships – with God first and foremost, but also extremely important is our time with our family and spouse. I would also advise we seek at least one other person who can be a confidant and friend.

2. Rest – Lack of rest makes loneliness even worse.

3. Take Inventory – Are you over committed? Are you priorities in line? Remind yourself of why you do what you do….daily!

What other tips can you offer missionaries and leaders who struggle with this. Or, if you are so bold, let our Life Overseas family know you struggle with loneliness so we can be a support to you.

– Chris Lautsbaugh, Missionary teacher and author with Youth With A Mission, living in S. Africa.
Blog: NoSuperHeroes   Twitter: @lautsbaugh   Facebook: NoSuperHeroes

Friend of Missionaries

Alternate title: “Missionaries are like Manure”

 

Musicians love music. They make their own music but they revel in the music others make, too.

Artists love art. They create their own pieces but they thrive on experiencing the creations of others.

Technicians love techie stuff. A game designer plays hundreds of hours of games on a plethora of gaming systems.

Following this reasoning we could conclude that missionaries love missions.

Right?

When we were in missions school one of the teachers told us that the top three reasons missionaries leave the field are: money matters, sickness, and relationship problems. He went on to expound on the difficulties missionaries tend to have getting along with others. The famous quote we took away from that class made me laugh.

“Missionaries are like manure. Spread them out and they do some good. In a group they are just a stinky pile of… crap.”

I didn’t believe it. Until I saw it with my own eyes. Missionaries fighting against missionaries. Mission organizations undermining other mission organizations. The saddest? People who had given up everything they once knew to help the people of a foreign land, leaving earlier than planned because they couldn’t get along with their team.

I closed myself off from relationships with other missionaries. I could count on one hand the number of other missionaries I allowed myself and my kids to have contact with. It was fabulous for language learning. I connected really well with the Bolivians. I think God was cool with it for a while, for about five years, in fact.

Then I felt urged to consider the possibility of opening myself to relationships with other missionaries. Upon reflection I saw my reasons for not making friends with missionaries tainted by an ugly shade of pride. My miss-goodie-two-shoes mindset kept me away from problematic relationships, but it also validated my sin of pride. I was so proud of myself for not getting trapped in a pile of manure that I began to judge those who worked on mission teams. I criticized the workers bound to the conditions imposed upon them by their overseers. I puffed up our independence.

Knowledge puffs up but love edifies. I have to love other missionaries, too? Yes.

Bit by bit I began making friends with other missionaries. I quit ducking away from the foreigners at the market. I stopped crossing the street if I spotted another pair of blue eyes.

This stirring started about six years ago. Guess, what? I am still on the mission field.

I am so glad that God’s gracious treatment of resentment removal has been fun. It’s been so good to get to know other workers. Our family has benefited. Our mission has benefited. I am most grateful for the personal benefits I have undeservedly gained from friendships with other missionaries.

——————————————-

What’s your experience with relationships with other missionaries or foreign workers? Are you guarded or welcoming with other ex-pats? As passionate, dedicated, people of mission how can we build healthy relationships with others? Are missionaries like manure?

– Angie Washington, missionary living in Bolivia, South America

blog: angiewashington.com twitter: @atangie