Jessica Wachter is an student at the Our Generation Training Center at Vision Baptist Church. Jessica is studying missions and will be completing her six-month internship in London in just a few short days. We are very proud of Jessica and are thrilled at how the Lord has grown and used her during her internship. Take a moment and read about something God has been teaching her–lessons that missionaries learn whether they are interns or whether to go to the field full-time. You can also find this post originally published at Jessica’s blog here.
My childhood was peculiar. When my siblings and I weren’t running around the neighbourhood scouting locations for our Indian tribe, we were inside with our parents watching old movies and shows. (Be thankful if you have never known the agony of your father make up the words to an eternally long silent film.) It didn’t take long for us to pick up quirky phrases and interject them into our every day conversations. who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? I remember at some point, our parents introduced us to one of our favourites – Hogan’s Heroes. Soon Sgt. Schultz’s infamous declaration could be heard in our house. “Nohzing!!! I know nohzing!”
I won’t mince words. My first three months in the UK were a total disaster.
By the time my State-side pastor and his wife arrived for their visit, things were dismal. I had spiritually isolated myself and was in the middle of a deep depression. Satan constantly reminded me, “if you can’t hack it in England, you’re definitely not cut out for missions. Give up. Find a ‘real’ job. No one wanted you on the team anyway.” The worst part was I bought every part of his lie.
A few days after their arrival, I showed my pastor’s wife around my tiny room. We had plans to head to the market and later to dinner. I say “had” because instead, we had an intensive heart-to-heart. As I sat on my bed sobbing I realised a sobering fact. If something big didn’t change, my internship would end with me leaving the ministry as a broken, hurting person.
One of the issues was that I did not fully understand my role as an intern. Over the past four years I had been placed leadership in my home church. My pride equated this to, “You understand ministry. You have arrived.” I thought I could be absolutely brilliant at anything asked of me. I came stating “I know everything!” Instead, I should have been quoting Schultz.
By God’s grace, the past three months have gone far better than the previous. While I am not an expert at being a good follower/intern, I do have authority on the following
How Not to be a Follower:
- Expect to be the Leader’s top priority.
After all, you worked your way here. Now it’s their job to help make you better than you already are. Assuming that’s possible.
- Don’t look for things to do.
If they need something, they’ll eventually ask. Plus, you already have stuff you’re doing. I’m sure it’s important (keep telling yourself that.)
- Make your schedule according to your needs.
This goes along with #2. You can busy yourself with other things. Be kind of flexible, but don’t allow it to interfere with your priorities.
- You are there to do the “big” jobs.
Anything less than teaching or discipling is beneath you. Stack chairs? Yeah right. That’s something for the “regular” church members. Ironing and dishes? That’s not real ministry.
- You are the man… er, woman.
You are a protege. Make sure to take compliments on how you are doing and blow them up disproportionately. Everything you do is simply brilliant. You are the next William Carey/Lotte Moon/Adoniram Judson. Training periods are for those who need help. You don’t.
- Bottle your emotions.
Good leaders don’t share with others and allow others to get involved. They have everything 100% sorted and don’t need help. Plus if you tell others you are struggling, they will turn on you and despise you.
- Talk more than you listen.
Your opinion is valuable too. I mean, you have 4 years of part time experience to their 12 years of full time. Listening is for those that aren’t as important as you.
- Justify your actions.
If their critiques feel unjustified, explain your side. They probably didn’t take that into consideration when praying about telling you to fix this particular thing.
- “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Your method of teaching/discipling/leading has done the job well thus far – therefore you don’t need to make an effort of learning a different leadership style.
- Fail to ask questions.
Better yet, fail to ask questions properly. Don’t try to learn; try to show how much you know.
- Neglect your Bible for intellectualism.
It is far better to be well read than to read well. Reading other’s thoughts on what Scripture actually says is a great way to grow spiritually.
- Don’t make an effort to communicate.
Make lots of assumptions about what people are thinking. Feelings = Truth. Make no effort at having constant, verbal conversations.
I would love to say I have only made a handful of these mistakes – but I have made all of them at one time or another. I am so thankful for the missionaries with whom I work. They constantly amaze me with the mercy they have extended.
Right before my Pastor’s wife left, I sat down with the leader’s wives and we had an excellent conversation. I was able to receive clarity on my role, and able to resolve a lot of the (self-inflicted) frustration I had. Something else that helped me was this article written by one of the wives on our team. While she spoke about praying for her husband, I decided to flip it and pray that those working over me would have the grace to deal with my mistakes and failures.
I came here an expert; I will leave a novice.
But that is okay, because I know nothing and need all the help I can get.