If your coworker has finished his Bible college training, your job is to take him to the next level.
Take Them with You
Jesus took His disciples with Him, and this small group of men took the Gospel throughout the world. Acts 4:13, “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled, and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.”
Notice the phrase, “That they had been with Jesus.” Once I interviewed Steve Heidenreich, who for fifteen years had a good relationship with his coworkers here in the Philippines. When I asked him how a missionary could best train workers he replied, “By spending time with them. Take them with you.” Paul was always leading people. He led people to three levels:
1. He led people to Christ.
2. He led new believers to become disciples.
3. He led disciples to become leaders.
An example of this kind of leadership is in Acts 16: 1-3, “Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed: but his father was a Greek: Which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium. Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek.”
Timothy was a disciple already, but Paul wanted to take him to the next level—leadership. To do so, he took Timothy with him on his missionary journey.
Teach Them during Meetings
The staff of Iloilo Baptist Church meets as a group four times a week for about an hour. While much of the meeting is spent working on individual projects and plans, I try to take some time and teach a principle or practice.
A few weeks ago, for example, most of the items we covered were more medium to long term projects such as conferences. The Lord led me to talk about the importance of time management. We discussed the principle of spending most of our time working on matters that were important, but not urgent.
I gave the example of our Pastor’s and Worker’s Conference and that I spend time planning most of the conferences at least eight months in advance. Starting months ahead of time on a project gives more time to be aware of opportunities. If you wait until a couple months before a conference to plan it, you will miss opportunities and the pressure will be greater.
Good leaders do not wait until the last minute to plan because procrastination produces pressure, and the last thing you need is more pressure. Planning ahead of time and knowing you are ahead of schedule can relieve some of that unnecessary pressure.
If a coworker knows he is going to get valuable insights into the ministry as he works with you, he knows he will develop faster, will be used of God more, and will usually be more satisfied in his work.
Ask Coworkers for Advice
I believe there are at least three reasons why a wise missionary will learn to ask advice from his coworkers:
1. Asking for advice helps the coworker feel involved and important.
A worker will almost always be more productive if he feels involved and important. I recall losing a good coworker who was not easily replaced. Over the ensuing weeks and months, I spent a lot of time talking to three younger coworkers and asking their advice on how they could help with some of the workload. In the following months each one became more productive in his area of work because he knew his involvement was important and needed.
2. Asking for advice helps the coworker to think for himself.
A worker who only follows, but never participates in the plans of the ministry, will always be a follower and not a leader.
3. Asking for advice will help the missionary avoid making some mistakes.
Nothing is wrong with a leader asking advice from those he leads. Not only will the coworker be blessed by his participation, but the leader is also blessed as he gains insights which help him to avoid costly mistakes. Almost every medium to large decision that I make has been analyzed by a number of other workers as to the advisability of whether to make the decision, how to make the decision, and the manner in which the decision will be implemented.