Thursday, December 04, 2008

Consultants and the Non-Resident Missionary

Talking with my brother the other day he was telling me about the world of business consultants. He said that people often are shocked by consulting fees, as some consultants make between $500 to $20,00 a day. He then told me about a survey that revealed that only about 20% of the employees in any one company are truly engaged in the business. The other 80% are employed, get a weekly paycheck but a lot of their days are having coffee with other employees, reading email, surfing the net and only spend a few hours a day actually doing work. “When a consultant comes into work he is 100% there and often putting in 12 hour days. While a consultant fee may seem pricy, you can be sure that what they do will be full-on and focused.”

As a non-resident missionary, who now travels four or five times a year to the field and is away from home 3 to 8 weeks at a time, I see a parallel between people living on the field 24/7 and my role as one who works under contract. Since I’ve been in the mission business for 30 years, both field as well as non-resident, I have observed that 80% of the career missionaries who live in a foreign land, many do less work than I do with my frequent visits. There are indeed some truly committed field missionaries who serve with a sense of responsibility. There are others who spend most of their time just living and with occasional focus on the task. When I pack my bags and head overseas it’s not a part-time activity. On my most recent trip I taught for six weeks straight, at least 4 hours a day. If you know anything about teaching you know the out of class activity is visiting with students and preparing for the next days. As one who has visited over 40 countries and lived in two countries, unlike short-term visitors who spend less than two weeks, I am not a tourist fascinated by the culture or trying to adjust to the food. When I am not on the field, like most consultants, my “off time” is spent in reading, doing research and preparing for the next assignment.

When it comes to my consulting fees, well, that’s when this analogy with business consultants breaks down. Most of the places I serve I pay my own way. In partnership with donors, this ministry is a service. My clients are really those who invest in what I do for the church worldwide. They expect, and rightly so, that I serve, not part-time, but full-on and focused.