Saturday, August 14, 2010

Whatever You’re Doing In There…Stop It!

Growing up with two brothers, one who designated himself the “eldest” by 5 minutes and the other 4 years younger, we were often a rowdy bunch. From time-to-time my dad or mom would yell at us from the other side of the house, “Whatever you guys are doing in there, stop it!” That sentence assumes guilt before a crime has been committed. Looking back, however, it probably saved us from getting the dreaded belt whipping (yes we grew up in era where “spare the rod and spoil the child” preceded Social Services and Child Protection Laws).

Of the many things that hinder mission work is the inability of people to get along with others on the field. Missionaries haggle over everything from mission policy to disputes on proper theology in the church. Most reasons for missionary discontent, however, can be boiled down to common human problems, personalities.

Spiritual Elitism - The church is filled with people with a superior spiritual mentality. One of the reasons we have so many denominations in the world, 38,000, is that every group believes they have a corner on spiritual truth. Mission groups on the field, from the same organization and same denomination, will always have someone who feels they walk just a little closer to Jesus than their colleagues and make it a point to be the ad hoc Holy Spirit for the rest of the group. My advice is, like Jesus; spend more time with sinners than with the Pharisees. The religious crowd may crucify you, but at least you are doing the work of the Father.

Cliques - Years ago a guy gave me good advice: “If you have to adopt another person’s enemies to be your friend, it’s not worth it.” Cliques are formed by boundaries of relationships. If a person is a part of group “A” of friends, by default they cannot be friends with people in group “B.” People you don’t even know will be against you, your wife and kids for no other reason than their friends don’t like you! Stay out of cliques; don’t adopt other people’s enemies to be “in” with others.

Jealousy - The root of jealousy is the feeling of anger in one’s own inadequacies. A jealous person is one who wishes they were like others, (their success, their family, their looks, their abilities) but since they are not they will do all they can to tear that other person down. A jealous person never comes to grips with the fact that God has made us all different and they cannot be content with how God made them. Jealous people are spiteful people. When around a jealous person minimize what you do and build them up. It won’t solve their jealous tendencies, but at least you won’t feed their insecurities.

Busybodies - I find it fascinating that so many people want to have an opinion on the lives of so many people they don’t even know. Under the guise of “I’m just concerned…” busybodies spend much of their time either gossiping about other people or giving unsolicited counsel to people they feel need their infinite wisdom. My advice to those who work with busybodies is keep an arm’s length away from those people, don’t give them an ear for their concerns and above all, don’t repeat anything you hear from them. “Praying about it,” is a cheap way of being a busybody and trying to be spiritual at the same time.

Tensions on the field in inevitable. There are some people you can get along with; there are others you can’t no matter how hard you try. The Apostle Paul knew that and wrote, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men” (Romans 12:18). Like my folks told us as kids, whatever your are doing that is causing problems on the field…stop it.