Friday, August 25, 2006

#3 Why I Love My Job

There is a difference between working with, working for, working alongside national church leaders. There is a lot of talk about “facilitating” the national church, but, like the details, somewhere the devil is in the definition.

When a North American organization states they are working with the national church, many times they mean they have a program or agenda and they have found nationals who provide local bodies to be a part of the program. Many of the facilitating projects in the world are American led and financed, working with nationals. In the grand scheme of things, this is not always bad, but it is not exactly what I do.

A few years back I heard a pastor of a national church say, “Foreign missionaries coming to this country should submit themselves to the national church. If they want to help our country they should serve under the direction of the national leadership.” What he was saying was the role of expat’s should be to work for them. If I was under thirty years old, had no experience overseas, I could see where that might be a rational suggestion. Provided the national leader knew what he was doing, wouldn’t try to exploit free labor and was willing to mentor me in the process of learning culture and ministry. The leader who made this comment is a wonderful person, but he’s not even a good pastor (working with people), so I would hate to think what type of a mentor he would be. Being over forty, ah, over fifty, with thirty years of service and being an independent type, the “S” word is not something I am comfortable with. At this point in my life I don’t want to work for even my most respected national leaders. Like borrowing money, that would be a recipe to end a wonderful friendship.

The reason I love my job at this stage of life is that I truly do work alongside the national church. Because my training is unique (a future post), I do not have to build anything, fund anything (except my training expenses) and, I am not lording over others nor being lorded over. Working alongside national pastors I do not get involved in their finances, politics or internal conflicts. Being a true facilitator is probably the most effective way a North American can serve the national church today.

And, what wonderful national leaders I have worked alongside! In the second term of our work in Kenya I released all responsibilities and decision making to the national pastors. It took awhile, not always a smooth transition, but today they are some great leaders I now visit and facilitate. In India, those I work alongside, are people with vision and unusually high ethical standards. Many of these leaders have their PhD’s, have a passion for Christ and know the difference between with and for. When I go to other countries, like Serbia recently, Moldova in November, I do so knowing that what I provide in training is for their benefit, not my own.

Admittedly, my job is unique. A combination of having the right educational credentials, practical and real life cross-cultural experience, and nearly two million road miles, I am, not one of a kind, but one of the few, who can truly serve in a facilitative role to the church. At this stage in life is it any wonder…I love my job.