I have two examples of how missionaries need to learn to work with each other. I'm sure you have a few of your own for those who are reading this. Years ago, a lady in our ministerial fellowship here in Honduras posted a question in our Facebook group. She asked what some of the most challenging things you deal with as a missionary are. One person commented that she gets hurt when missionaries at a local supermarket won't say hello or acknowledge her. She just knew they were missionaries because they looked like it. Then I had a fellow missionary confide in me that another missionary told him that he couldn't minister in this particular area of town because it was their area. I have never seen or found scriptures in the Bible where we are to throw gang signs and have turf wars!
These may be interesting or funny examples of how some missionaries need to learn how to walk in love and grace with each other. However, the Bible encourages us to recognize that we are the Body of Christ, and we are to be in unity to fulfill his plans and purposes for the earth. Jesus said in Matthew 12:25, "Any kingdom divided by civil war is doomed. A town or family splintered by feuding will fall apart."
HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS HELP KEEP MISSIONARIES IN THE FIELD
Missionaries who have healthy relationships with their fellow missionaries tend to be more productive and last longer in the mission field. A recent study found that when they have healthy relationships with their fellow companions, they are 46% less likely to get homesick and are 55% more likely to stay in their mission. Additionally, these missionaries are also more likely to have higher productivity rates.
No matter where you are serving as a missionary, it is essential to develop good relationships with your fellow team members from the beginning. The last thing they want is to be marked by others as being one who is complicated and is hard to work with. When times get tough, these relationships will help you when you need someone to rely on.
DAILY RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD IS A MUST
1 John 1:7a "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another." One component of walking in the light is a daily relationship with God. I think some make the mistake of having an attitude that I am in the ministry; so, therefore, I must already have a relationship with him. They feel their work exempts them from having intimate personal time with him. They allow the pressures of their work for the gospel to supersede much-needed time with the savior. As we fill ourselves up on God daily, we push out the spiritual junk within. The stuff that makes us want to be ugly and not so kind when dealing with others. Especially in high-pressure environments such as the mission field. The personal times with him will renew our minds and help us take upon the mind of Christ.
"The closer we move toward God, the closer we move toward each other."
If you want to get along with someone, find something you have in common and build on it. When people share commonalities, they feel a connection and are more likely to get along. This is especially important when working together on a project or in a team setting. By finding things you have in common, you can develop a rapport with the other person and work together more effectively.
HUMILITY CAN GO A LONG WAY
1 Peter 5:5b "And all of you, dress yourselves in humility as you relate to one another, for God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Maintaining good working relationships can be difficult if you are not humble. A humble person is willing to put the needs of others before their own and is less concerned with their ego.
When you are humble, you are more likely to cooperate with your coworkers and be less defensive. You will also be more open to criticism and feedback. This can help you improve your work skills and become a better team member. Additionally, a humble attitude can make you more likable and respected by your coworkers.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 "So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing." We need to learn to be there for one another as fellow workers in Christ. Only then can we genuinely love and support one another. When we have each other's backs, we can face anything together and make the ultimate goal of the ministry unstoppable in the face of storms. We must be there for everyone, not just the select few or those that fit in our little clique. Let's work together to create a supportive and loving community where every brother and sister feels welcomed.
DON'T TAKE THINGS SO SERIOUSLY
Psalm 103:15-16 "Our days on earth are like grass; like wildflowers, we bloom and die. The wind blows, and we are gone as though we had never been here." For those who find themselves taking things so seriously, read this scripture and ask yourself, "What will this matter a hundred years from now?" Then, as you ponder, help it lower your anxiety levels, decide to let things go, and put your complete trust in God. The truth is that, after you die, the world will forget you. What matters is that you have done your utmost to leave God's prints behind.
As we get caught up in the busyness of ministry, we can start to take our work relationships and obligations too seriously, which can adversely affect our interactions with our co-laborers in Christ. It is important to remember that work is only a part of our lives and should not consume us entirely. If we allow ourselves to get too wrapped up in ministry work, it can lead to tension and conflict with the people we spend most of our time with. Maintaining a healthy balance between our Kingdom's business and personal lives is essential to maintaining healthy and productive relationships with those around us.
Proverbs 17:9 "Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends." A recent study looked at how grudges and offenses can impact our ability to forgive others. The research found that people who cannot forgive are more likely to experience negative emotions like anger, sadness, and fear. These emotions can inhibit our ability to connect with those on our mission team and, therefore, hinder the ministry.
Most Christians should already know this, but why do many still do so. Here are reasons why Christians may hold grudges and be easily offended. One may be that they are not living their lives in accordance with the Bible. For example, the book of Proverbs says, "a soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger" (Proverbs 15:1). Another reason may be that they have low self-esteem and need to feel like they are right all of the time. This can often make them defensive when someone disagrees with them or offers them constructive criticism. Finally, some Christians may be quick to take offense because they are afraid of getting hurt again. It can be due to an experience where they were hurt by someone else or something that happened to them.
LEADERS, YOU NEED TO LEAD YOUR TEAM TOWARDS HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS
Leaders play a critical role in setting the tone for an organization. They should be aware of the importance of setting standards for behavior and expectations for their team members. This includes creating a culture where they feel comfortable speaking up if they see someone violating the norms. In addition, leaders need to be proactive in addressing any issues that may arise, and they should also be willing to listen to feedback from those they lead. By establishing clear expectations and promoting a positive work environment, leaders can help their organization achieve success.
"When leaders genuinely produce healthy relationships with those on the team, it creates a culture that inspires others to do the same."
In Summary, one of the essential things for missionaries is to have healthy relationships with their fellow missionaries. Spending time with those who share the same ideals and goals is necessary for a happy, healthy mission. These relationships provide support, encouragement, and opportunities for greater unity and purpose. When missionaries can work together as a team, they can better accomplish the Lord's work. Remember, one essential key in achieving that is to have a close relationship with God. Don't let the ministry work get in the way; ministerial activities are not your personal time with God. You need your own time of prayer and reading the Bible.
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MISSIONS ON YOUR HEART?
If you are a ministry, minister, or person of God that wants to dive deeper into missions but don't know how that looks for you, feel free to contact me. I would love to explore your heart and see where God leads you. I can share with you all the avenues that I am aware of in the hopes of connecting and plugging you into the right place that God has for you in the world of missions. Reaching lives for Jesus Christ in the international fields requires thoughtful planning. There is a mission pipeline sort of speak that needs to be built out specifically for you. I can help you do that.