No Place Here

When HOPE61 took its first steps in the southern hemisphere, it was – by some crazy act of God – through me. My tired, naive, and slightly hesitant steps off of the airplane and into the terminal were HOPE61’s steps because, quite simply, I was the only HOPE61 team member in Australia or New Zealand.

Three years later God has expanded this ministry of human trafficking prevention. It doesn’t look quite the way any of us expected but the US HOPE61 leadership and I have, I think, left space for God’s will to be…and where we didn’t, He soon redirected us. Now there are four HOPE61 workers and one volunteer: two workers and a prayer leader in Australia, two workers in New Zealand. I’m the only foreigner. (How great is that!) By necessity my role is different than what I pictured. Because of the multiplication of workers, which is exactly what has been wanted all along, I soon recognized the need for me to become more intentional in how I coordinate the team. Since December I’ve been considering how I can improve my coaching skills in order to best equip my teammates. I issued a “bat signal” through the virtual notice board that One Mission Society (OMS) missionaries have access to and received advice and resources from a few coworkers. I’ve also been regularly Skyping with an OMS trainer to be coached on how to coach. I’ve Skyped with an OMS field leader who has terrific perspective on the mistakes and positives that happen within leadership and management in missions. Books have been sent, more books recommended.

I want to be the best possible coach/supervisor/etc. in order for this ministry to grow. There is so much I’ve learned in just a few months, and so much more I have yet to learn – but at this point it seems to come down to this:

Ego has no place here.

(My younger sisters probably wish I’d learned this a bit earlier, when I was frantically bossing them around.)

Yes, I am a confident person. I have come to genuinely like who I am and who I am becoming. I know when I’m right. Over time and at a steadily accelerating rate, I’m also gaining the confidence to be wrong. I’m stubborn and more than a little rebellious, but that’s nothing new – I’ve always known that, my parents have definitely always known that, and God has always been teaching me to give those traits to Him. He’s great at turning them into something sweeter, and more useful for His service.

Or neon-colored, like this king parrot. Badger Weir, Victoria, Australia.

Or neon-colored, like this king parrot. Badger Weir, Victoria, Australia.

I didn’t know, however, just how much my ego loves itself. This realization has sunk in as I’ve learned the following five lessons:

1. Even amid conflicts I should be fighting for my teammates, never against them. That means being passionate about their success and well-being. My ego wants to insist that I “deserve” to fight for myself and to win.

2. My goal should be to equip my teammates to become more than prepared or good at what they do. Instead, I ought to seek for them to become better than I am at my job. This isn’t to say I’m the standard by which anyone should aim, rather, this is a way to acknowledge what I really care more about. If it’s the ministry, then I’d want those I train (Both in churches and other HOPE61 workers.) to surpass any good work I may be capable of. The ego in me would rather aim for “equality” so that while I may not be the best, I’m not the least either.

3. I must constantly evaluate my actions and the purposes of my work to discern if I’m doing it for the good of “my ministry,” or the good of the team. Not just the HOPE61 team – but the team I’m really on, the kingdom of the Living God team. Everything I do should be for the benefit of that team. My ego prefers building a ministry that fulfills me.

4. Sometimes you have to take one for the team, but I don’t mean the HOPE61 team. I mean the bringing-glory-to-God team. If I have to give up a personal preference or change what I’m comfortable doing in order to benefit my teammates, that’s par for the course; particularly in light of the sacrifice Jesus Christ made in order for me to join His team. My ego would like pity or some credit for these micro-sacrifices but really, they are simply a part of serving my King.

5. “Not that we have dominion over your faith, but are fellow workers for your joy…” –2 Corinthians 1:24  As Paul said regarded his and Timothy’s support of the Corinth Church, my task as a coach/supervisor is work for their joy. My ego would rather be bossy.

Not one of these lessons works if my ego is running the show.

I believe God will continue to strengthen and grow this ministry in Australia and New Zealand, and my part lies in being taught by Him and His people. I am praying that these are things I will not just know in my head but also allow to seep into my heart.

“Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit, for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”
2 Corinthians 3:5-6

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