Some Pointers On Building Up Relationships Between Missionaries-By Kevin E. Jesmer 10-16-17

Some Pointers On Building Up Relationships Between Missionaries

By Kevin E. Jesmer 10-16-17

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!” (ESV)

My wife and I recently attended a marriage conference at Harvest Bible Chapel in DeKalb Illinois. We learned so many valuable things about building up our marriage. One thing that struck me, is that marriage is a model for everything. Principles from strengthening relationships in the marriage can also be applied to other close relationships, like missionary teams. The conversation in one session sparked so many ideas about building up relationships with other missionaries on the mission field.

These are some other things I thought about while sitting in the marriage seminar…

Bind yourself to your heaven-sent team member. Please refer to the following key verse, Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!” (ESV).

The point is…two are better than one. Each person can help the other as they work together. It is like being in a three-legged race. We are in it together. We want to get our partner and ourselves, across the finish line. We cannot run on ahead of the other. We are bound together. We need to get a sense of each other’s rhythm.  With God’s help they will both get across the finish line together. There is an old African proverb that goes something like this…  “Doing something alone may allow you to move quicker, but when you do things together you move further.”

When we think of Church we have to think of a body of people, travelling together. We have to envision women, men, and children of all ages, races, and societies supporting one another on their long and often tiresome journeys to their final home.”Henri Nouwen

When Julie and I were heading up a house church, God sent several other believers to the ministry. I never knew how connected I needed to be to the coworkers that God had sent. I thought about efficiency and almost always, I felt that I could get things done quicker if I did them myself. If I had to do it all over again, I would definitely “bind” myself to the team members that Christ sent, and proceed together in the Gospel mission.

Introduce dialogue. Create an environment where there can be good communication.  There needs to be a relationship that encourages other peoples’ input.

Gracefully embrace each other’s’ weaknesses. People need a safe place to “be” in. They need to be able to ask for help.

Pray together. Missionaries pray together. How often we neglect praying together in the name of getting the work done? Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Matthew 18:20, ESV). More things are done through prayer than anything else. “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.” Alfred Lord Tennyson

Allow for initiative. Missionaries need to allow each member of the team to take some initiative. Don’t kill initiative with rejection and criticism. Realize that some initiative is actually God inspired.

Encourage vision casting.  Again, God could be revealing mission/vision through people whom he has sent. We all get stuck in our old rhythms. Even wooden wagon wheels can cut ruts in solid rock if they take the same route all the time. (ex. The Oregon Trail.) Time is passing and the culture is changing faster that we can keep up with it. Now that 4 out of 5 kids are out of the house, I will be losing touch even faster and getting stuck in an even deeper rut. We need some outside inspiration. God provides that, if only we have ears to hear.

Affirm one another/don’t criticize. It is not good to point out each other’s sins and call each other to repentance continuously. (however, in some extreme cases this might be necessary. Matt 18:15-19). But always remember we are not God. Some of the small criticisms we harbor in our hearts are actually ridiculous to hold onto if you really analyze them. It is called nit picking. They may be an issue with us, but not with God.  How about offering each other grace. Affirm each other. It makes everyone stand a little taller.

These relationships need to be nurtured. Any garden needs to be carefully nurtured in order to bear good abundant fruit. Heart soil needs to tended so that the seed of the Word of God can grow. Likewise, relationships need to be nurtured to grow.

Over the last 31 years as Christian I have failed to nurture and build co-working relationships. Especially in my 14 years heading up a house church ministry mistakes were made in abundance. My attitude was that if a person was not regularly attending Sunday worship service and faithfully tithing and paying for the upkeep of the home the church met in, and have not been “jumping through the hoops” that I have set up, for ten years, then they had no authority or right to speak into what was going on in the house church ministry. I will always remember the time when one of my closer partners in ministry wanted to ask some questions. He was critical about some ministry things. I totally shut him up, stating that we should not let Satan get a foothold in our hearts. I crushed conversation, and initiative and so many other things. He and his family left. Do you know what has happened to the house that our family used to have the house church in for 14 years? It is torn down and the place where it was, is now covered in grass. God did bear some lasting fruit through the house church experience, by his grace. But I sure did tear up the garden that God wanted me to nurture on so many fronts.

In conclusion, I can truly say that co-working relationships are a gift from God. They are meant to strengthen, encourage and build up each missionary. They will bring glory to God and renown, honor and praise to his name. People will be pointed towards Christ. These relationships need to be nurtured with prayer and careful spiritual consideration. Let’s review some of the points that were made…

  1. Bind yourself to your heaven-sent team member.
  2. Introduce dialogue.
  3. Gracefully embrace each other’s’ weaknesses.
  4. Pray together.
  5. Allow for initiative.
  6. Encourage vision casting.
  7. Affirm one another/don’t criticize.
  8. These relationships need to be nurtured.

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