“How Are Things Between You and Your Leadership These Days?” — Questions You Can Ask a Missionary Part 11
Our friends (and fellow missionaries) Keith and Lori Doster recently linked to an article about stressors that missionaries face. The original article is called 12 Questions You Can Ask a Missionary to Help Them Stay on the Field. Missionaries are not unique to these stressors; however, they do face them in situations where they often feel vulnerable and lonely.
If you know any missionaries, I encourage you to support and encourage them by asking one or more of these questions (but not all 12 at once!). For the sake of our friends, supports, and blog-readers, I wanted to proactively answer these questions over the next few months. (Of course, feel free to ask us these questions personally.)
Question 11: “How are things between you and your leadership these days?”
I can answer this question in different ways, depending on what you mean by “leadership.” Does you mean . . .
- my direct bosses in Allendale?
- leadership at Grace Church, who got us connected with Allendale in the first place?
- our Advisory Team?
Or maybe you’re asking about all three?
I’ve already written about the relationships with my co-workers in Allendale, and this question seems to fit right along with that.
Terri Boone is the director at the USC-Salkehatchie Leadership Institute, where I do my STEM-related work. But I knew her from my first days of living in Allendale. In fact, I lived with Jim and Terri Boone, and their two kids, at Red Bluff Lodge, since it was my Home Away from Home for a couple of weeks. Their warm friendship and helpful insight has meant so much to us over the past 3 years.
I also report to Coach Eddie Ford. I got to know him months before I even thought of coaching. I’d bring him a Hardee’s biscuit and we’d talk about football, youth, and this community. We soon discovered that we played against each other in high school; (for the record, my team won both times). More than anything, I could see that he cared about the teenagers that played for him, as I got to see him teach Life Lessons.
Of all (eight?) jobs that I’ve had in Allendale, I have learned the most from these two bosses, and I’m thankful that I’ve had these jobs.
Grace Church Leadership
Our first visit to Allendale was in December 2010, with Matt Williams (founding pastor of Grace Church) and Jeff Randolph (Culturally Engaged Director). They gave us invaluable help during our transition to our life and ministry in Allendale.
I’ll be honest, though. . . . We’ve had some strained conversations along the way. Most of this had to do with my personal expectations and misunderstandings, though they also admit that they could have been clearer about some things. But we always knew that the other person’s heart was in the right place.
We had to realize that there was tension because this was all new. It was a new situation for us, and for the church as well. A lot of it we were just making up and learning as we went along.
On my part, I learned how being out front as a leader (especially as a Scout, Settler, or Explorer) means that you are alone so much. Being out front and alone is a scary place, and that is especially difficult for a guy like me who idolizes comfort and security.
Grace church has been incredibly supportive all along our adventure in Allendale. They have helped us get resources (such as teaching materials and volunteers), and they will continue to help us in the upcoming months, as Our Season in Allendale comes to a close. I am thankful for the leadership who trusted in us, and gave us a chance to be a part of the church’s work here.
Our Advisory Team
Within the first few months of living in Allendale, we were counseled to put together an Advisory team. This advice came from some leaders at Grace Church, as we recognized that the church could not provide all the consistent relational connection and spiritual support that we needed.
We asked seven couples / individuals to be on our Advisory Team, and all of them accepted. Four of them are a part of Grace Church, another lives in Greenville, one in Savannah, and one in Allendale. They have helped us process a handful of decisions (such as when I resigned from the Boys and Girls Club), and they have all been extremely available to meet and talk with us.
For any success or sanity that we had over the past couple of years, most of that has to do with our great community of friends and leaders.
We give a big “Thanks!” to my bosses, the staff and elders at Grace Church, to our Advisory Team, and to all our close friends.