Reflections and resources for lifelong learning for missionaries

Category: Success in ministry Page 1 of 2

deadlines
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

Dealing with Deadlines

As we approach the end of a year, we face approaching deadlines, often coming more quickly than we had hoped. Many of our goals in our Annual Ministry Plan Season are due at the end of this year. Back in January, we identified some projects we wanted to complete in 2022, and now we just have a few more weeks to do so. I already know that my team and I will not complete some of these goals this year. Hopefully next year, we can finish them.

We also face deadlines in more personal areas. Christmas is just two weeks away, and we still have gifts to purchase and wrap before then. The deadline set by Canada Post for sending Christmas cards within Canada is December 16. To send cards to the USA, our deadline is even earlier – December 12. For sending to most of the rest of the world, the deadline has already passed.

Why do we call it a “deadline”?

The word “deadline” is a strange and sobering word, is it not? Our deadlines may have consequences for failing to meet them. But thankfully, none of my deadlines have ever threatened me with execution! Apparently the word “deadline” comes from the American Civil War. A Confederate prison in Georgia was notorious for shooting POWs who crossed a line within or around the prison. So this “deadline” was a literal line with deadly consequences for those who dared cross it. Since the Civil War, the figurative meaning of the word has totally overshadowed the original meaning. But the word still implies how important it is to stay within the set time limits, although most of us do not think about deadlines in this way.

Missionaries and deadlines

Maybe I am wrong but I think that we as missionaries are less concerned about deadlines than most people. Those of us who have lived and worked in cultures without a strong time-orientation have seen ample proof that the world works quite well even if events do not start on time.

fruitfulness
Photo by Howard Bouchevereau on Unsplash

Resilience and fruitfulness

In my first blog post on this topic of resilience, I said that understanding resilience is not primarily about minimizing attrition. Our goal is not simply to prevent missionaries prematurely returning to their sending countries. We want our colleagues and ourselves to thrive. Our desire is that they bear much fruit and grow and develop in their ministry gifts and skills. In this post, let’s explore the relationship of resilience to fruitfulness.

Rewards come at the end

This morning, I received another email encouraging me to watch a training webinar. It included a familiar incentive:

Additionally, as a ‘Thank You’ to our loyal KLS members, we will be giving away a $10 Starbucks gift card to a random attendee at the end of each of our February webinars. Make sure you stick around until the end of the webinar to be eligible to win!

Email from KnowledgeWave.com, February 15, 2022

To receive a reward, you have to stay to the end. This reminds me of similar promises in the letter to the Hebrews.

Seeking balance or seeking the kingdom

“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? – Luke 14:28

I am quick to “count the cost” when I am asked to do something on top of what is already in my job descriptions. Can I add this to my workload? Do I have the capacity at this time to take on this assignment? (See also my post on wearing multiple hats.) I wonder if maybe those are the wrong questions. At least, those are not the first questions I should be asking.

Should We Find Joy in Our Ministry Achievements?

“Do not rejoice in that this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:20)

Over the years, I have heard various missionaries and Christian leaders say that these words of Jesus indicate that he intends that his disciples should find their joy and satisfaction not in their ministries but rather in their personal salvation (justified status with God). I found a recent example of this thinking in a book I am reading, The Emotionally Healthy Leader.

Jesus sends out seventy-two disciples two by two. When they return, they are excited to report significant numerical impact and that the demons submit to them in his name. Jesus affirms their activity of kingdom building, but he also reminds them of something more important: “Do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10: 20). In other words, he wants them to remember that their joy comes from their relationship with him, not their achievements for him.  (Scazzero, Peter. The Emotionally Healthy Leader: How Transforming Your Inner Life Will Deeply Transform Your Church, Team, and the World (p. 37). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.)

Achieving Everything You Desire by Mid-career – Not a Recipe for Finishing Well

A month ago, SEND U conducted a mid-career retreat for those missionaries who had served at least 15 years with our organization.   This week, as I was reading about Solomon in 1 Kings, I was struck by how much this leader accomplished by the time he hit “mid-career.”

When Solomon had finished building the temple of the LORD and the royal palace, and had achieved all he had desired to do, the LORD appeared to him a second time, as he had appeared to him at Gibeon.  (1 Kings 9:1–2)

But Will It Last After I Leave?

In my Bible this morning, I found this depressing reflection on the meaning of life:

For a person may labor with wisdom, knowledge and skill, and then they must leave all they own to another who has not toiled for it. This too is meaningless and a great misfortune.  What do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labor under the sun?  All their days their work is grief and pain; even at night their minds do not rest. This too is meaningless.  Ecclesiastes 2:21-23

Top 10 Definitions of Missionary Success Revisited

The seventh post in a series on defining success for a missionary. Part 1 demonstrated that we, like Paul, can be confident in our ministry, despite all our detractors and critics. In Part 2, we saw in 2 Corinthians that Paul repeats the phrase “commend ourselves,” to identify key criteria that he uses to demonstrate that his ministry is credible and successful. In the third, fourth and fifth posts, we looked more closely at Paul’s criteria of successful ministry, that of clearly proclaiming the Gospel, seeing lives changed by God’s power through our ministry, and joyfully enduring hardships in ministry.  In the sixth post, we looked at some typical, yet flawed definition of success.

Last week, I suggested that we as missionaries are pretty adept at coming up with ways of determining whether we have been “good missionaries.”   I gave my top 10, many of them coming from my own experience.   Any one want to add to this list?   No need to stop at ten!

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