Becoming a Missions or Leadership Engineer

What term really fits the need of today’s changing society, or society that needs to change? What word is best within the mission’s or spiritual leadership cause? Maybe missions or leadership “engineer” fits the bill. People add value not when they identify problems but when they come up with effective solutions. Last time I checked faultfinding is not a spiritual gift. Anyone and everyone can do that and many attempt to fulfill that role. Those that stand out identify problems, forge solutions, and go beyond the expectations of others. It doesn’t require gifting to see problems. The real gift is envisioning the answers. One can increase his personal usefulness by finding solutions and working toward them.


Bruce Howell wrote, “One early morning I rolled out of bed in Manila, Philippines. I needed to get out for a bit of exercise. I considered jogging, but lacked zeal, or the needed strength or speed. A walk would suffice. I launched into Ayala Street; Manila’s Wall Street equivalent. I quickly admired the stunning structures awed by how they painted such a dramatic contrast to what is found in the ghetto areas of every metropolis. Walking briskly through a tunnel I noticed a bank sign. I was captivated by the words, “See challenges, not barriers; see solutions, not differences; and see horizons, not borders.” There I stood gazing at the sign quietly memorizing the motto written there. People detoured around me, giving me a suspicious glance. I had found a gem; a bit of signboard theology. It’s amazing, a nugget for a sermon by merely paying attention to the world around you…Thank you for doing your part in taking the whole Gospel, to the whole world, by the whole church. Your sacrifice equals souls added to the kingdom. You have stepped forward, many times with limited finances, but armed with a desire and a vision. You see challenges as opportunities, not barriers. You find solutions when faced with problems, not differences. You envision horizons to be conquered, not borders to be restricted.”

Recently, I read a book, a biography of sorts, entitled, The Ralph D. Winter Story: How One Man Dared to Shake up World Missions by Harold Fickett. You may have heard of Winters; the guy that advocated thinking of people groups rather than geographical nations. He had the ability to see right through situations and problems to basic principles. He always looked for a better way to do something. He sought to improve. He fostered the Guatemala experiment that led to the global concept of “education by extension.” He founded TEE (Theological Education by Extension) in 1963. It opened brand new opportunities for what he called “missions engineering.” He developed the widely used course called Perspectives in the World Christian Movement (a small book of over 800 pages). He also founded the U. S. Center for World Mission.

He is described as a, “Great innovator, but he also knew from his anthropological studies that 90 percent of all innovation in human society is copied from somewhere else. He was smart enough to learn as much as possible from what had already been done” (Pg. 72). His wife, Roberta, said of him, his “main concern (and his gifting) was discovering the missing link in what is necessary for missionary advance and then working to produce what is necessary to fill that need” (Page 83).

He was able to see needs others did not and then gave his energy to invent solutions to meet those needs. He had a gift of seeing the unseen challenges in the myriad of missions’ undertakings and found ways to address these challenges.

In a book entitled Pressure Points, our strategic planning is a prayerfully discerned, Spirit-guided process of preparation, development, implementation, and evaluation of the necessary steps involved for global disciple making. This process can be developed by:

  • Asking good questions
  • Responding with healthy answers
  • Applying wise action steps
  • Evaluating everything
  • Praying with diligence

Bill Allen, quoted in the blockbuster book, Built to Last said: We are “always reaching out to tomorrow. This can only be accomplished by people who live, breathe, eat and sleep what they are doing.” May the Lord bless as you endeavor to become a better missions and leadership engineer.

photo credit: tim_d via photopin cc

What Do You See?

A village chief lay dying and wanted to choose a successor. He called his three sons and told them, “Sons, I am about to go to the place of the departed spirits and I must first choose one of you to be the next chief of this village. I want you to go to the yonder mountain, climb it, and bring me something from the mountain. Hurry because I will soon die. Life is quickly passing from me.”

The three sons hurried off to the mountain and individually began to climb it. After a couple of days the first son came and stood before the aged chief. He said, “Father, I have climbed high on the mountain and I have brought you a tree limb.” The chief asked him to go and wait for the return of the other two sons. Several days passed when the second son returned to the father. “Father, I have climbed high on the mountain and have gone above where the trees are. I have brought you a rock from the mountain,” he stated, visibly tired from the journey.


It seemed like a long time and the third son had not returned. Finally, he came and appeared before his father. “Father,” he began, “I have climbed high on the mountain. I have gone above where the trees are, and have climbed to the top. From the top of the mountain I could see far into the distance. I could see the river flowing, and smoke rising from distant huts. I saw the beauty of God’s creation. However, my dying father, I have nothing in my hand to bring you.” The old chief whispered, “You, my third son will lead my people because even though you have nothing in your hand to bring me, you do have something in your heart.”

What do you see?
photo credit: Loco Steve via photopin cc

Enough With the Games

A guest post by Matthew R. Mullins

With a heartfelt gesture of concern, the man peered over and asked the other opposite to him, “but…” exhausted with a lengthy conversation going nowhere, “…how are you doing?” He had heard enough of what others thought of the situation, enough of this man avoiding the actual dilemma; no, he was asking for keeps this time, “I want to know where you are at personally and how I can serve you?” Enough with the games! This idea of leading others by service, it is tough to swallow. Most people find themselves desiring to be a leader without any compassion for people, thinking the position or title meant they had arrived. This relates to how we serve people today in the church and the divide between innovation and tradition. Let us take a page from history to illustrate.

Jesus was both a separate individual and yet also connected to history, tradition and mankind. He was connected to traditional Judaism while being separate enough to bring a new perspective and interpretation of God’s love and plans – doing so within that self-same history and tradition.1 What can we learn from this Biblical perspective? It is quite possible to be both innovative and yet structured, to be an effective, creative soul-winner while also keeping a sense of continuity and direction. Most perplexing for uprising generations is a failure to understand the concept that their dreams for the church are not crushed by traditional church values. Nor should “their dreams” be without God. If a called individual felt so inclined, the question to consider here is, what is my dream in connection to the church and in relation with God? If these questions cannot be systemically answered Biblically, than perhaps this “dream” isn’t God’s dream for the church or for that individual. It is self-made. Thinking out loud here, but wouldn’t this be the larger issue between both younger and older generations? The elder finds difficulty separating themselves beyond history, the youth cannot see past modernity. This vast disconnection and outwardly awkward collision creates the chaos that ensues the church today, a misunderstanding and misdirection of communication.

The truest misdirection here is a failure to understand what innovation, creativity and modern soul winning actually look like. If our churches are not striving daily to consider new approaches, then we have failed to reach younger generations needed to lead the church of tomorrow, while also missing the opportunity to harvest a greater bounty of souls today. This is sad to think that one single day of failing to ask the question, “What can I do more effectively today for the Kingdom of God?” is potentially the source of so much upheaval. The source of the question, where do we go from here? The source of younger generations of ministry feeling a need to let go of the plough out of being stifled or separating themselves from organization. The source of churches not presently fulfilling the greatest calling of all – that is, spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Getting the point yet?

Some reading this are already refuting the basic principle here, after all many of the religious leaders of that day hated Jesus, despised His teachings and ridiculed Him publicly. Understand something, we are not talking about people placed within an office of responsibility, that had a form of outward godliness (such as praying loudly so that everyone saw them); we are discussing actual leaders, like Jesus. Give yourself a title, a pulpit and call yourself a leader all you want, but true leaders are servants. Fundamentally, true leaders are innovative servants! Right back to the principle we are discussing. You should note that Jesus has had one of the most impactful, powerful, and enduring ministries of all time in-spite of the defamation He received publicly. It was His individuality that brought about this new revelation of God, therefore it should be celebrated not stifled; we should respect everyone. He showed us how it was done and left us to it!

The principle is this: Individually we can be unique, innovate thinkers and leaders –creatively pursuing our special callings to advance God’s Kingdom while also maintaining our connection to fundamental Apostolic doctrine and history. You can have one in relation to the other. Jesus paved the way for this type of innovate ministry. It is possible for traditional thinkers to relate to modern generations, as much as it is possible for modern thinkers to become impassioned with fundamentals of basic, sound doctrine. We are called, throughout every generation, to preach and teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, delivering His redeeming message. Let me ask you this, what more outside of this matters enough to stifle church growth, to negate the responsibility of true leadership, to promote disunity, or to leave the plough in preparation of others for the bridegroom? Sobering as it is, nothing. Everyone with a calling who is faithfully, daily laboring in covenant relationship should find no issue in serving and working with others as Jesus gave example. If we are the type of leaders modeled after Jesus, then today we solve issues of organization down to the local church. Enough is enough with the games!


1 Richardson, R.W. (1996). Creating a healthier church: Family systems theory, leadership, and congregational life. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press.

My C-Wish List

C-Wish List? Hope it caught your attention and dispatched you into the land of Wonder. I’m not talking about my birthday wish list. I’ve been too busy to even jot down my Christmas wish list. My thoughts have been captivated with the C-Wish List; the list of characteristics I look for in a team member.

What is it that I expect from a team member? Each characteristic, as you will notice, begins with the letter “c” so I have penned it my C-Wish List. I have not placed them in order of importance.

  1. Character: indispensable in any team effort. Much has been written on the subject. Sufficient to say, members of the Global Missions team need to be men and women of integrity and can be counted upon always to do what is right in God’s sight.
  2. Compatible: studies have shown that the ability to get along with others is even more desired than skills. Chemistry and a kindred spirit are essential to a good working relationship. We won’t agree on everything and that’s healthy. Conflict happens but compatibility helps rescue the day.
  3. Creative: Anyone can be critical. I wish for team members that are creative and constructive. Finding faults and problems are not signs of spiritual gifting. But, someone that can identify a problem and chart the solution is a proverbial breath of fresh air for any leader.
  4. Consistent: I’m not looking for a fly-by-night or a seven-day-wonder. Can the team person produce over the long haul? Does he/she have a track record of being consistent in achieving good things for the kingdom?
  5. Confidentiality: In leadership we see people at their best and at their worst. People trust us to give proper advice, counsel, an understanding compassionate ear, and to keep things confidential. I need team members that will watch my back so as to speak, and when I say, “This is confidential” I know that is exactly where it will stay.
  6. Credible: Solid relationships are built on trust. Team members should be trustworthy and reliable. In delegating tasks and assignments I need those that will do it, and do it to the best of their ability. They can be counted on to do what counts, when it counts, and how it counts.
  7. Cross-cultural communicator: In global missions the ability to communicate cross-culturally, correctly and clearly is a definite advantage.
  8. Compassionate: I’ve always said that I wouldn’t want to work with someone that isn’t compassionate. That isn’t the same as being a pushover, by the way. Like it is often quoted, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care?” Even tough decisions can be issued in a compassionate manner. I could add “caring” but it’s basically the same thing.
  9. Completion: A good team member exists not to compete but to complete. Everyone has weaknesses and strengths. I want team members that cover areas that I may be weak. We don’t need everyone possessing the same skill-set.
  10. Capacity: Does the team member have a teachable attitude and a willingness to learn and expand? We live in an ever-changing, ever-developing environment and must be willing to change and to learn new methods and skills.
  11. Conscientious: The team member should have a built in quest for excellence. I’m not real big on mistakes. Yes, they do happen, but should be kept to a minimum. And when a mistake does happen, one should admit it, correct it, and move on.
  12. Courtesy: All team members should be respectful, diplomatic, and treat people as they would want to be treated. Sometimes, we are like two porcupines out in the cold: we need each other and we needle each other. Yet, team members should be courteous.
  13. Call: Like I said, these are not in the order of importance. If they were, this should be moved closer to the top. Team members need to know assuredly that they are in the will of God and that they are called to the team for such a time as this. It is a safe anchor in times of confusion and chaos.
  14. Credentials: Team members should have credentials, characteristics, and experience equal to the requirements of the job description they hold.
  15. Compromise: We can’t have our own way all the time. Team members need to be willing to compromise for the common good of others or be conciliatory to the united decisions and desires of the team. At the same time, one should never compromise convictions or move away from apostolic doctrine. Of course, that should never happen in Global Missions anyway.

Stopping there is probably best. I don’t want to tire you in wading through a longer wish list. Here’s your homework.

  1. Go through the wish list and verify characteristics you want for any of your team members?
  2. Go back through doing a personal inventory. Score yourself. Are you a good team member?
  3. Share the list with those that work on your team in your area of the world. People have the tendency to rise to your level of expectation.

My heart’s desire is that each of us would strive to implement the fifteen characteristics above as we endeavor to be team members together with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.