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MISSIONARY ATTRITION: POOR RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHER MISSIONARIES
by Dermot Westcott

August 8, 2011

Poor relationships with other missionaries…

Another cause for missionaries to leave the mission field is poor relations with other missionaries.

What is it with us that we feel so threatened when we feel that someone else may do better then us, or may take something away from us!  We sometimes go out of our way to build walls between us and others that are in ministry, making sure they don't cross the line!  A prayer that Jesus prayed to the Father that does not get as much coverage as the Lords Prayer can be found in John 17:21-23.  I like how it's put in the Message Bible.

I'm praying not only for them but also for those who will believe in me because of them and their witness about me. The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind— Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you, so they might be one heart and mind with us. Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me. The same glory you gave me, I gave them, so they'll be as unified and together as we are— I in them and you in me. Then they'll be mature in this oneness, and give the godless world evidence that you've sent me and loved them In the same way you've loved me.

There are many other scriptures that encourage us to keep the peace amongst the brethren and think of others more highly than ourselves.  I guess we still have some of the mindset we had before we became Christians, and that is that we want to build our own little kingdoms.  Still, it is hard to keep a balance in our relationships when we have bad experiences where others deliberately undermine us, or deliberately try and persuade people to work with one mission and leave the other.  It must be a stench in the Lord’s nostrils when He has to put up with our childish ways.

Relationships between missionaries in the field are not much different than the denominational churches we have in Canada/USA.  We sense that we must protect the work we feel so led to do on behalf of the Kingdom of God.  We are afraid that THEY may get one up on us.  Man, are we ever going to learn? If the Lord is waiting for the church to become one before He comes back… well, no concern about that happening anytime soon!

I know that these are harsh words and somewhat awakening but they need to be said.  I like how Paul put it in Ephesians 4: 1-6 (The Message Bible):

In light of all this, here's what I want you to do. While I'm locked up here, a prisoner for the Master, I want you to get out there and walk—better yet, run!—on the road God called you to travel. I don't want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don't want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere. And mark that you do this with humility and discipline—not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences. (Look up the last part of His prayer in verses 24-25)

You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness.

We should be encouraging one another in our calls from the Lord.  Being a part of someone else's vision will only enhance ours. If you were to boil it down, we are all a part of someone else's vision.  Ultimately, we are part of the Lord's vision.  We are all members of the Body of Christ.  I should be encouraging you to do your part effectively because that will only lead to my success in whatever I am doing.  It does not matter if I do not see it immediately but the finger and toe have a lot in common.  When one hurts the other is affected, but more importantly, when one succeeds the other undoubtedly will reap the benefits.

I have seen missionaries compete in power struggles in the field.  Neither one giving way to the other, nor humbling themselves to allow the other one to blossom.  Sometimes it's a matter of a disjointed “power of command” not being respected.  In those cases, the leader should know better than wrestle the matter to the point of division.  This would be a great time for one to humble oneself, make peace and put the other above oneself.  Complex… yes, not everything can be so simply remedied just by gracefully bowing out but the alternative is less pleasing to the Lord, believe me.  If it were not for the Lord's Mercy towards us sad bunch, we'd be goners!  Here is a thought… What's pride got to do with it?!  Selah!


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