It has been almost 5 months since I came to one of the most affluent places in the US- Orange County, CA to work as a staff at Mariners Church. The goal of this whole experience is to learn from Mariners Church and to introduce my own culture, share experiences, and bring a different perspective to the table. What an experience it has been so far! With every new place, there comes a mixture of feelings; the excitement for new adventures and pain of upcoming uncertainties. Often it is not one or the other but it is both. As I have played the role of a vision-caster in both corporate and Christian work environment prior to coming here, it was a little bit challenging for me to operate in a much slower pace, observe, and be okay in times where the next step is unclear. However, there are far too many valuable things that I have been learning which I am still chewing/processing some of them. Here are three things that really spoke volumes to me:
1. Leaders need to become celebrators
I have witnessed such humility at Mariners Church and the ways that they walk with their leaders and care for their spiritual and emotional well-being. One of my favorite authors wrote, "Mistakes happen when you over plan and under-care." (Allender, 2008) Personally, I think our culture expects perfection, not excellence and leaders aren't much appreciated, and the milestones are not often celebrated. Celebration and appreciation is a little gesture of saying "I notice and I care about you." Isn’t it so healing to know that what we are doing is noticed, important, and impact the community? People may argue that the US is a different culture and some things do not work the same way in Mongolia but we simply won’t be able to tell if it is going to work until we try. Somehow, somewhere we started to believe the lie that if we say it too much, it will lose its power and if we show too much appreciation that we may come across as “people pleaser”. But it is not true, we need to show more appreciation, we need to celebrate our volunteer leaders and the work that they put into the expansion of God’s kingdom. There is power in affirmation, healthy evaluation, and appropriate celebration.
2. Leaders are called to be partners with their people and grow with them
We limp and rot as leaders when we begin to think we have learned everything we need to know about serving others. Both leaders and the followers need continuous growth. Leadership is not a position of power but an invitational place of partnership. I believe the old understanding of shepherding; leading must change in case of Mongolia. A healthy leadership creates a supportive, partnering, co-operating space rather than authoritative, dominating one. It is growing on both sides that the relationship, the body of Christ remains healthy. Leaders need to be asking themselves whether they have made their staff and team members’ responsibilities clear, whether they articulated the goals of the church/organization, given them the proper training with resources they need, and if they have led them well. It is not a one-time evaluation of self but a constant awareness and desire to grow and lead the team well. Dr. Dan Allender once said that leadership is not about problems and decisions; "it is a profoundly relational enterprise that seeks to motivate people toward a vision that will require significant change and risk on everyone's part." (Allender, 2008) We all grow and change and we must. As the development level changes and growth is evident, the style of the leader should change. In a sense, as leaders, we are to be fluid and flexible and always open for growth.
3. BE broken and BE with the Broken
As an Asian, I dare to say that we are extremely prideful people in general. We refuse to be vulnerable at any cost. And when we learn about people's failures and sins, we outcast them, and act like we have never sinned ourselves. I have been seeing the beauty and the power of being broken time after time again. I also learned that a true confession does not lead to disrespect and weakness; it transforms the character of the person and he/she earns greater respect and reliability from others. When a member of the church, a leader, a pastor sins (we all sin but somehow some sins are considered the “bigger” sins), we as a church need to understand that he/she is in such lonely place and that is the prime time to show love and serve. He/she needs not be isolated any more than where they are at. When we fall short, that is when we need the grace of God the most. So the questions we can ask ourselves are: How do we learn to see beyond people’s sins and love unconditionally? How do we learn to not be so awkward or judgmental when reaching out to the one who has sinned, learn to not rush to give advice and be all smart, and just BE there for them humbly?
I want people to be reflecting on BEING rather than DOING. Because that is what I've been learning and what God truly called us to- totally BEING who God called us to BE. It also means completely owning our brokenness, being sure that we are work in progress and that redemption requires brokenness. We need more people to learn how to BE there for others without saying anything, BE the change that they want to see in the community, BE the transformed soul, and BE fearless than ever before.