Reflections and resources for lifelong learning for missionaries

Category: Leadership Training Page 1 of 2

Photo by RUN 4 FFWPU from Pexels

Finishing Well: Cheering the Next Runner

What would you think of a relay runner who went to the locker room right after completing his or her lap? Perhaps you would think the runner had suffered an injury or had some other health concern. Aside from that, we would question their relationship with the rest of the team. A healthy relay team recognizes that success depends on the performance of each runner. Therefore, each member of the team who has completed their leg stays on the field and cheers on the remaining runners. They stay off the track and cheer from the sidelines.

In this series, we have been using the analogy of a relay race for finishing well in a ministry assignment. So, how do we cheer those who follow us as we complete our ministry assignment? How do we keep from getting in the way of their performance? Our relationship with those who follow us in ministry shapes our cheering for them as they run their lap.

Relationships Matter

Yes, it would be strange for a relay runner to go directly to the locker room. Similarly, it would be tragic for church planters to cut off the relationship with the local church leaders who succeed them in leading the new church. Tom Steffen wrote:

The seventh and final component is determining how church planters can maintain good relationships after the phase-out. They work themselves out of a job, but not out of a relationship. Continued fellowship includes prayer, visits, letters of challenge and encouragement, sending other people to visit, and cautious financial assistance.

Tom Steffen, Passing the Baton, p. 18.
baton transfer

Finishing Well: Transferring the Baton

We are finally getting to the finishing part in our series on finishing well in a ministry assignment. In a relay race, transferring the baton is crucial to finishing well. For example, the US 4 x 100 meter relay team was disqualified in the 1988 Olympics for a late handoff. In a similar way, how we transfer responsibility and leadership defines to a large extent whether we finish well in a ministry assignment.

The incoming runner has the primary responsibility for the transfer of the baton. Specifically, he/she places the baton so that the outgoing runner can grasp it most efficiently. In a church planting assignment, the missionary is directly involved in the training of emerging leaders. However, in administrative assignments, there is usually less involvement in selecting a successor. Nevertheless, one can leave behind a “Policy and Procedure Guide” or a step-by-step manual for the next person filling that role. So, what characterizes a good transfer when we finish our ministry assignment?

The Transfer is Intentional

Throughout his book, Passing the Baton: Church Planting that Empowers, Tom Steffen emphasizes “a comprehensive, phase-out church planting model” (p 7). From the very beginning, the church planting team intends to transfer responsibility and leadership. In other words, this transfer plan guides the whole process of church planting.

Likewise, in an administrative role, we recognize that others will follow us in the role. We are intentional in passing the baton to those who follow us. Successfully transferring responsibility may include cross-training others in the office prior to our departure. 1Cross-training is the practice of training your people to work in several different roles,2 or training them to do tasks that lie outside their normal responsibilities (from Cross-Training – Team Management Skills From MindTools.com). Furthermore, putting together an up-to-date procedural manual will contribute to a smooth transfer. Of course, we also need to spend adequate time in the transition zone. More about that later.

coaching or mentoring
Photo by LinkedIn Sales Solutions on Unsplash

Do I need a mentor or a coach?

In the last while, I have been thinking about how to strengthen our mentoring within SEND. In a recent analysis of leadership development within our organization, I noted that we needed more intentional mentoring of developing leaders by our current leaders. This is a gap in our current leadership development. Thinking about how to fill that gap has naturally led me to try to define mentoring. How is mentoring different from coaching? SEND U has already sought to create a coaching culture within the mission. More than 200 people in SEND have received some type of training in coaching. So, do we need both mentors and coaches?

Defining coaching and mentoring

A significant difficulty in answering this question is that the definition of coaching varies so much. For example, Lois Zachary and Lory Fischler in their mentoring fable, “Starting Strong” say,

Coaching is more instructive, but mentoring is more of a relationship. It’s not about me telling you what to do and you doing it.

Lois Zachary & Lory Fischler, Starting Strong: A Mentoring FAble, p.21.

Developing leaders: a perspective from Timothy and Titus

When Paul wrote to Timothy and Titus, he showed concern about transitioning to new leadership. He demonstrated a commitment to developing the leadership capacities of Timothy and Titus, his delegates to churches he planted. He is quite concerned about leadership development in the churches. While these letters are not leadership development manuals, there is much we can learn from them. I find five leadership essentials in the letters to Timothy and Titus that should guide leadership development.

CHARACTER MATTERS

Character matters a great deal to Paul. The qualifications for church leaders in 1 Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9 are mostly behavioral characteristics. As many commentators have pointed out, most of these qualities are expected of believers in general in the New Testament. Church leaders ought to be models of mature Christian character. Christian leadership qualifications encompass the totality of the person, not just skill in ministry tasks.

Saul was not ready

1 Samuel 9 introduces us to a very promising young man named Saul, a young man who we soon find out has been destined by God to become Israel’s first king.  He is from a good, highly-respected family with wealth and influence (1 Sam 9:1).   He himself is physically impressive, tall and handsome (1 Sam 9:2). But this young man has a problem – his father’s donkeys have wandered off, and he and his servant have already spent three days looking for them without success.

At this point, we come to an interesting discourse that gives us a window into Saul’s spiritual formation up to this point in his life.

Crucibles

When God prepares a person to serve him in a leadership or other significant ministry role, he often chooses to use crucibles. Crucibles are small pots used in chemistry labs in which metals or other substances are heated to a very high temperature. In the middle ages, alchemists used crucibles in their various attempts to forge gold out of base metals and various strange ingredients. But Webster also defines a crucible as a difficult test or challenge or a place or situation that forces people to change or make difficult decisions.

The Scriptures speak of the crucible as an instrument for purifying silver, but always in the context of some type of testing for the purpose of refining.

Reaching and Teaching in Animistic Oral Cultures

In my last post we looked at Sills’ book Reaching and Teaching: A Call to Great Commission Obedience. This book is clearly a follow up to this work. It is in essence an application in practice of the principles in the earlier book. “This book explores how the Lord led missionaries to minister effectively among a specific people whom he called to himself: the Highland Quichua people of Andean Ecuador.”(pp. 2, 3).The book highlights the challenges of reaching and teaching an oral people group with a long history of syncretism:

Page 1 of 2

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén

%d bloggers like this: