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An Expat Wellness Reminder
You can balance friendships and technology – with these 4 encouragements.  Izzy Ashton | an expat in Western Asia     “When I lived overseas, I could only write letters to my family.” “Back in the day, we could only make phone calls once a month, and they were expensive!” “What I wouldn’t give to have been able to have my parents see my children on a screen growing up. We only had visits once every four years.”   I often heard memories like these when I moved to the other side of the world. So, I embraced the 12-hour time difference and 24-hour travel from friends and family. Before email and video calls, a move overseas meant disconnection from community, leaving behind loved ones and one’s culture. In many ways, this is not my reality; it’s not the reality of the world that the internet brought us. Through digital photos and videos sent by their parents, I get to watch my niece and nephew grow and learn. I get to process my new expat life with long-time friends - through social media and video calls, even showing off parts of my world in real time. I even get to stay up to date on pop culture from my home country as well as globally, as so much of these trends and movements overlap. The stories of cross-cultural pioneers who relied on handwritten, paper communication provides a clear reminder of how much technology has changed our daily lives. We don’t completely say goodbye when we board the plane. Some might say that this presents a problem in the way we adjust and make our new home in a different culture. And there is a temptation to rely too much on the ease of communicating with people in our home country, making it hard to really settle in. There is also a significant benefit in being able to stay in touch with those we love. Balancing a new cross-cultural life and a global community is a marathon. During a pandemic, it can feel like a triathlon when you trained for a 5k. Steady your cadence and make technology your best pair of running shoes. Here are 4 encouragements to balance friendships and steward technology well.   1. We can’t make social media an unhealthy escape. This is one of my biggest struggles and temptations. I notice myself reach for my phone when I’m feeling uncomfortable in a situation or overwhelmed with new information. I scroll through Instagram on my ride home from a language lesson, rather than letting the new words settle into my mind. I read pop-culture articles when I should be studying for the next day’s class. This does me no favors! There are some days when an old friend sends a message, email, or voice chat, with comforting words, strong enough to dig in where I am. In these times, I am grateful to not be a letter or expensive phone call away!   2. We need to remember the weight of relationships, no matter their location. Relationships are draining and not just for introverts; they require an investment of time and emotion. We have a limited capacity. When I first moved cross-culturally, I planned on keeping in touch with everyone regularly. I made numerous promises of emails and regular video calls. After one month, I lacked follow through. I rehearsed to myself, I care for them and I want to stay in touch but my capacity is limited. Yes, I cut back on communication with people I love, and it allowed me to be intentional about which relationships to pour into.   3. We must take the time to develop deep, in-person relationships. When I first moved cross-culturally, loneliness wasn’t my companion because of my many long-distance friendships. If I want to share snippets of my everyday life, within seconds video calls connect me to a familiar face. Through emails and social media, I could distribute images freely and quickly. Over time especially during a shelter-in-place season, I realize I needed and craved that in-person connection. Screen relationships, while valuable, aren’t enough. An in-person connection takes more time and vulnerability both in speech and physical safety. As COVID-19 restrictions lift in your country, with proper precautions, make it a priority to pursue deeper, authentic relationships. Stepping into new relationships opens our hearts for the possibility of more goodbyes, but our souls need to meet for coffee or a meal, and reach out to someone when we have a need.   4. Finally, we choose gratitude for the technology we have available. While I know I can easily get sucked into the world of the internet and social media, allowing me to stay connected to those far away that I miss, I am thankful for the chance to stay connected to them. During our visits home, we felt less “far away” because of the opportunities to pick up more where we left off through the quick messages and emails we exchange throughout the year. Because of these things, our relationships feel less fragmented and we can include our family and close friends in our daily lives here. Here are my favorite apps to stay connected:   Email | Let’s start with the obvious medium. We use emails to send and receive regular updates to our friends and family!   Facebook | Not only do I love seeing photos of my friends’ babies and holidays, but I see Facebook as a way to stay informed on discussions around current events and pop culture. (Facebook video meeting rooms are my preferred video chat tool as well.)   Instagram | This app is great to catch up with friends and connect to online expat communities, even people in my own city.    WhatsApp | I finally convinced my whole family to download this messaging app which allows us to have family group chats. I get to see regular photos of my baby nephew, hear my dad’s corny jokes, and laugh at my siblings’ bitmojis.   Voxer | This is a voice messaging app records messages up to 14 minutes in length and send them to a friend. I have one friend in particular who I use this with and it always feels like such a gift to “spend time” together this way.   Marco Polo | This video messaging app allows me to record myself talking (with no time limit) and send it to a friend. This is especially helpful with a tricky time change that makes video calling harder.   Tiny Beans | This app is very specific: post and view baby pictures! Both of my sisters-in-law regularly share photos on this app. This gives Aunt Izzy a proper dose of niece and nephew snapshots. Stewarding technology well is a gift to yourself and those around you. Choose the right shoes for your cross-cultural life. Your future self will thank you for the deeper friendships. ●     Photo by Peus80 on Envato Elements. Used with permission.     BIO Izzy Ashton holds a masters’ degree in counseling, is rarely seen without a book or pen in her hand and enjoys learning how to help people thrive. She and her husband Michael are experienced entrepreneurs who develop businesses cross-culturally that will make a positive impact on their communities. From her home along the Mediterranean, she is striving to learn the balance of well-being and self-care in a rigorous business world. Talk to Izzy.  
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Surviving or thriving?
Amid the coronavirus quarantine, you can take action against fear and discouragement.​ Jim Beerley | ICP Mentor   Greetings from prison! Well, maybe not quite, but I think you know exactly how I feel. This morning I told my wife how thankful I was to have someone I enjoyed being quarantined with. She replied, “Must be nice!” Ok, I admit I stole that from the internet, but it does raise a question I would like to address: In these present circumstances, how can we not just survive, but thrive? I’d like to share two principles from Psalm 1 that will enable us to do both.   The first principle is this: Guard your mind. Be careful what you let your mind dwell on. A number of years ago, I lived in Haiti during a period of prolonged civil unrest. I can still vividly remember the gossip and rumors that swirled around like wildfire. That was tremendously destabilizing, and I will admit there were times I was sucked in. If Psalm 1 was written today, it might sound like this: Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the fear-mongers, or stand in the way of the frantic, or sit in the seat of the furious. We must not allow our minds to go down that negative progression. Instead, the psalmist urges us to delight in God’s Word and meditate on it. Truth is a lamp to our feet and a light on our path (Psalm 119:105). It allows us to keep moving forward even in times of darkness. The most important truth we find is what we learn about God. He is the Shepherd who walks with us through the Shadowlands.   The second principle is this: Guard your heart. We must remember whom we serve, and why. The word blessed in the psalm, when referring to God’s blessing, is often tied to a commission. Think of it as “divine enablement for a divine commission.” In Luke 24:45-50, Jesus does three things for his disciples before his ascension. 1. He gives them perspective. He “opened their eyes so they could understand the Scriptures.” He showed them how this all fit into God’s plan. 2. He commissioned them as witnesses, which we also find in Matthew 28 and Acts 1. 3. He blessed them. And while he’s blessing them, he ascends into heaven. So, the last thing the disciples heard was both the divine commission and promise of divine enablement. And what effect did this have on the disciples? They worshiped, returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were praising God continually. How profound that our God invites us to partner with him in preaching the gospel to the world. There is no greater privilege on earth! And how fitting that today, with so many people fearful of the known and the unknown, we have the Easter message that death and the grave have no power over those in Jesus Christ!   Here’s a suggestion for how to guard both your heart and mind. It’s something I’m doing for myself. Read through the Lord’s Prayer every day, verbatim. Meditate on it. It keeps my mind focused on the One I serve, who is both King and Father, and it reminds me that I don’t need all the answers — just enough sustenance for today. Let me conclude with two observations I’ve made in the last few weeks. 1. I’m amazed at the stories I hear from all over about the creative ways that Jesus-followers are living, incarnating John 1:14 in all its glory. These examples are so encouraging and challenging. The world is not worthy of you!  2. How cool is it that we are able to teach our disciples, by example, what it means to be the church without having church! For many of us, working in more traditional contexts, this is a major paradigm shift. Discipleship is loving others in all areas of life, and helping others do the same. What does that look like during a quarantine? Let’s show them! Thank you for your faithful service. My prayer is that God will continue to give us his peace, his grace, his power, and his love for such a time as this. ●     MEET THIS MENTOR   Jim Beerley graduated from Cairn University in 1981 with a B.S. in Bible, and from Dallas Theological Seminary with an M.A. in Biblical Studies. Growing up in Haiti, Jim began his missionary service there in 1986 working in the Seminaire de Theologie Evangelique de Port-au-Prince (STEP). In 1994, Jim was asked to transfer to the Principality of Monaco to pastor the Monaco Christian Fellowship. Currently, Jim resides in Canada and one of his greatest joys is to bring biblical truth to others. Jim makes his expertise available to you through Missional Impact’s Mentor Network. | Read Jim’s full bio. | Send a question to Jim.   Photo by Ariel Costillo on Pexels Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.  
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Supervising the Difficult Subordinate
Calmly tuning in to a co-worker’s perspective can help diffuse conflict.   Steffanie Lim-Ho | executive expat in Europe   Navigating relationships with difficult people can be a major source of stress in the workplace. It’s easy to focus on how someone’s behavior or attitude makes us feel. But I have found that trying to understand the other person’s perspective helps me extend empathy and be more Christ-like to my coworkers.   Resisting Bitterness Toward the Backbiter Earlier in my career when I held a leadership position in Asia, I became the target of jealousy from a peer. Her jealousy manifested in undermining me in my role. At first, I wondered if her verbal jabs were just part of her personality, or whether she was targeting me personally. As time went by, colleagues told me that she was saying damaging things behind my back, and they encouraged me to be on my guard. My first reaction was anger. I wanted to put her in her place and get back at her. I talked to my husband, though, and his feedback helped me take a step back. He asked me, “Why do you think she is so jealous and insecure? What sort of life experiences has she had to make her feel like she needs to put other people down to get ahead?” These questions helped me shift from a lens of anger to a lens of compassion. Even though this person continued her attacks toward me, my whole perspective changed. That helped me respond well and continue to execute my responsibilities with grace and professionalism.   Looking Beyond Surface Behavior Later in my career, I had a similar experience with the power of empathy. One of my direct reports was a believer, but nominal in how he approached his faith. In his annual performance review, I had to share some difficult feedback with him. I told him that he executed well on his tasks, but his poor attitude in stressful situations negatively impacted the rest of the team. When I gave this feedback, I sincerely sought to help my direct report. But he was resentful and defensive, making excuses for his behavior.     BONUS BOX "Having a Difficult Conversations with Someone from a Different Culture" from Harvard Business Review ”Transforming Troublesome Coworkers Behaviors” from the Institute for Faith, Work and Economics ”Conflict Resolution Strategies in Indonesia” from Living in Indonesia Again, it would have been easy to focus on how my direct report was making it challenging for me. But God helped me amid my frustration. I felt an internal nudge to shift the conversation to his spiritual life, which I never thought would be a topic I’d bring up during an annual performance review. “How are you doing spiritually?” I asked. Eyes weary, he looked at me and said, “Honestly, I am so empty inside, I cannot even feel my spirit.” That shifted the whole tone of the meeting. Because I had listened to God’s prompting and reached out in empathy, I was able to spend the rest of the meeting building up my direct report spiritually. I encouraged him to draw near to God through time in prayer and Scripture. If I had just focused on defending my point, I would never have had this opportunity to point him to the restoration that Jesus offers.   Embracing the Role of Peacemaker In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus talks about how the peacemakers and the merciful are blessed (Matthew 5:7-9). He tells us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. He reminds us of God’s kindness to undeserving sinners (Matthew 5:44-45). Those Scripture passages have been helpful reminders for me when I have been tempted to respond to negative behavior with equal force. You never know how God might use you when you listen to him and when you seek to extend empathy to the difficult people in your life.   ●   Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels.      BIO Steffanie Lim-Ho is an enthusiastic leader and motivated professional, dedicated to her faith and family. She’s been with Eli Lilly & Co. since 2008, and currently serves as regional CFO for Lilly Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. With a combined 20 years’ experience in corporate finance, audit, internal controls, and ethics/compliance, Steffanie is a world traveler known for leading change, modeling ethical values, driving accountability, and inspiring others.
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Language Lies I Tell Myself
Becoming fluent in truth is helping me talk more like a local every day.   Izzy Ashton | an expat in Asia     It’s said that when you learn a new language, you gain a new soul. With that in mind, it makes sense that it’s not easy. To tell the truth, learning another language is just plain hard. It’s developing a fresh way to see, understand, and communicate with the world around us.  As I attempt to master an unfamiliar tongue, God grinds me into mortar, revealing things about myself and showing me ways I need to trust him more completely. In moments of confusion, frustration, and isolation, negative phrases tend to echo in my heart. Listening to these lies and believing them discourages me, making my journey even harder. But I’m learning to recognize deceptions when they come, so I can counter them with truth instead. I like to think of it as becoming fluent in truth. If you’re learning a new language, these lies may be uncomfortably familiar to you. But take heart. Truth really can set you free, just as it did for me.   “I Can’t Do This” Once a month, a woman cleans our house. The first time she came, she had so many questions for me: Where do I keep the cloths? Which is the best bucket to use? What kinds of cleaners do I have? I understood none of these questions! It took hand gestures, a translation app, and her husband showing me photos of the brands she was asking about for me to get what she meant. When she left, I felt so discouraged. I couldn’t easily communicate these most basic things! Just two months later, however, the woman went straight to the cleaning supplies when she came and we were able to have a basic conversation about our families. At the end of the day, she smiled and remarked how much better my language skills are already. I can’t do this. My mind has repeated this lie until I believed it. I have said this out loud, closed my textbook, and walked away. Learning a new language often feels like struggling on a long, impossible road filled with big challenges and only small encouragements.   I’m learning to recognize deceptions when they come, so I can counter them with truth instead.                                              But I can’t focus on how far I have to go, fearing complex grammar structures and literary-level language. Instead, I remind myself of little ways I have already grown in language ability. I now know how to say “thank you” and “good evening,” I learned that sometimes, in navigating the local market, all I need to know is how to ask the price! I’m celebrating those accomplishments. I choose to replace the thoughts of I can’t do this with I can do this and remember that in many cases, I already am doing this.   “I Will Never Get This” When this lie takes hold, I imagine myself living here for an extended period, unable to communicate. I play out the scenario of isolation and disconnectedness, picturing my embarrassment as people realize how many years I have lived here without being able to learn the language. But that is not the truth. Nor is it the reality I’m living. I have been in this country for less than a year, and I am absorbing this language little by little. I know more than I did a month ago, and I know less than I will know a month from now. I will never get this has been changed to I will get this, but it will take time. Recently, I found this chart of language difficulty for English learners. According to it, the language I’m learning takes longer to master than most. Knowing this helps me grant myself grace, appreciating the time it takes.   “I Don’t Have Enough Time for This” In the midst of starting a business, learning a new culture, writing, taking care of our home, and caring for our first baby, I can’t devote 100 percent of my time and energy to language study. Virtually no one can! And yet I often feel guilty about this, feeding myself “if only” statements in an attempt to blame my circumstances. But here’s the truth: I do have some time. I benefit when I’m intentional to carve out parts of my week to study language, by myself and with a tutor. Instead of lamenting over what isn’t, I need to be grateful for what is and get the most out of that as possible. Maybe for you, “if only” looks like a full-time job or toddlers at home. Perhaps a formal language school with personalized learning isn’t an option. But what resources do you have, even in small doses, that you can show up for and celebrate learning? Instead of the lie of I don’t have time for this, I’m going with I will give what I can to learn this. Now think of some lies you tell yourself when you are discouraged or frustrated. What can you do to speak truth to them?   ●     Photo by Siora Photography on Unsplash.     BIO Izzy Ashton holds a masters’ degree in counseling, is rarely seen without a book or pen in her hand and enjoys learning how to help people thrive. She and her husband Michael are experienced entrepreneurs who develop businesses cross-culturally that will make a positive impact on their communities. From her home along the Mediterranean, she is striving to learn the balance of well-being and self-care in a rigorous business world. Talk to Izzy.  
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Half-Full or Half-Empty?
When whining hampers work as worship Maggie Robertson | an expat in Asia   At my academic workplace in Southeast Asia, expats have a reputation as complainers. The air conditioning isn’t sufficient; the copier is broken (again); the supervisor called a meeting on short notice. How can they do this to us? It’s just not fair.   I think my fellow westerners would be a shoo-in for an Olympic gold medal in complaining, were it an event. The weather, the traffic, the shower water pressure — give us an aspect of life, and we can find something wrong with it. And that’s when we live in our own country! Put us in another setting where the challenges are greater and complaining becomes as effortless as breathing.   However we handle those challenges can either attract or repel the local people we're called to serve. Philippians 2:14-15 (NIV) makes it clear: “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’ Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.”   I love that the Apostle Paul says that simply by refraining from doing something, we will shine like stars. It’s not like we have to dazzle people with some kind of spiritual song and dance. Just by not grumbling, not complaining, we will shine. I confess that in my younger days, complaining was one of my chief sins. Things could always be better, I thought, and expressing this sentiment would prompt others to make them better. I’m sure, in many cases, I produced the opposite effect instead.     BONUS BOX Read Using Gratitude to Understand Culture Read 7 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Gratitude Watch, worship, and dance: International Christian Fellowship of Cambodia sings “Unstoppable” Good thing God changes us over the years, and I have learned a lot in this area. Here are a few thoughts that have helped me complain less in my host culture.  1.    I remember I’m in a different culture. That may sound entirely too basic, but it’s amazing how often I need to remind myself of this. When students in my school handle my personal things without asking, I have to remember that life and material goods here are much more communal. “What’s mine is yours and vice versa” is the prevailing attitude. Or when an older woman cuts in line in front of me at the grocery store, I remind myself that I live in a culture where age bestows privilege. Another possibility is that the woman grew up here during a time of famine in this country.  2.    I remember it’s not about me. Often, repeating that simple phrase to myself takes away any sense of offense and its resulting complaints. One of the best books I’ve ever read is Timothy Keller’s The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness. His thesis is that by divorcing ourselves from connecting people’s treatment of us with a “yay” or “nay” vote on our value, we can go into the world to serve, wholehearted and free. Every slight or injustice that comes to us in the world and in the workplace can be kept in this perspective. For example, my supervisor reprimanded me recently for being a few minutes late to one of my classes. In the past, I would have complained about the pettiness of that to one of my colleagues. After all, I’d been on time to every single class for six months straight before that. Instead, I accepted the reprimand. Yes, I’d misjudged the time; no, it wasn’t personal; and yes, I am still a competent teacher and person.  3.    I am intentionally grateful. We’re all tempted to think of things we miss when we live in a host culture: an excellent cheeseburger, an English-speaking electronics salesperson, a simple process for opening a bank account. Choosing to replace those thoughts with thankful ones is not natural, but it can be a mood changer for sure. Instead of bemoaning that I can’t get my favorite salad dressing, I am thankful I can find salsa and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Although I missed Christmas Day with my family for the first time in my life, I am grateful that, with today’s technology, we could do a video call and share the holiday that way. There’s always something for which to be thankful, even in the most difficult of circumstances.  4.    I try to keep an eternal perspective. I want Jesus to greet me with a “well done, good and faithful servant” when I see him face to face. Not “I love you, child, even though there were some ways you could have served me but chose not to.” This also means he gets to define success. The outcome is not guaranteed, nor will it always look like success to those around me. My job is simply to obey and to be faithful.   As my time working in a host culture continues, I try to bear all these things in mind. Will I get sick? Yes, I could become seriously ill. Will I be treated unfairly at work? That is a distinct possibility, as well. But will I choose to complain about these things? That’s entirely up to me. I pray I choose well so I can indeed shine like a star in the sky among the people of my beloved adopted country.   ●   BIO Maggie Robertson holds a master’s degree in education and worked as a teacher, administrator, and career coach in the eastern U.S. for 20 years. In 2018, she and her husband, Spencer, began living and working in Vietnam where they’ve become superfans of the people and the food. Maggie also loves attending an international church with more than 40 nationalities represented, calling it “a little preview of heaven.” Photo by Stephen Müller on Pexels.com   Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.  
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How Much does Helping an Embezzler Cost?
When pressured to set aside my ethics, I weighed the cost and made my choice. Michael Chen | hotel executive in Southeast Asia   I worked in Asia as the manager of a hotel owned by a wealthy family. They contracted my company to oversee their hotel, and I reported to my company supervisor while also liaising with a family member who served as the owner’s representative. The owner’s representative attempted to embezzle money from the hotel, stealing from his relatives who also had ownership shares. He asked me to help falsify financial reports to cover up what he was doing. Whenever I received this request, I prayed. A key verse for me was 1 Corinthians 10:13:   No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.   As I prayed for wisdom and strength to navigate the pressure this person was putting on me, God reminded me of his faithfulness and sovereignty. You and I are only on earth for a short time. Success here doesn’t matter if we fail in eternal things.     You and I are only on earth for a short time. Success here doesn’t matter if we fail in eternal things.     With that in mind, I graciously and respectfully engaged the owner’s representative. I felt God’s presence with me in that conversation, helping me be confident and humble. I told him I could not do what he was asking — first, because I was a Christian, and second, because of professional standards.  BONUS BOX Entrepreneur: The Importance of Honesty and Integrity in Business Theology of Work: Ethics at Work Overview In Asian culture, saving face and showing respect are important. It helped that I was older than the owner’s representative. I also could talk about my management company’s policies and reference broader standards and authorities. That helped the conversation go well, even though there was friction in our relationship at times. I also made sure my management company’s regional director was aware of the situation. Looping him in also helped me interact with the owner’s representative.   After several attempts to get me to change my mind, the owner’s representative stopped asking. He would say with a chuckle, “I guess I shouldn’t waste my time trying to get you to go along with this, right?” In such situations, it is important to remember God is my ultimate boss. I concentrate on Scriptures like Proverbs 3:5-6 and Jeremiah 29:11 to remind myself God is trustworthy. Even if I lose my job, God is sovereign. I pray, “God, if your plan for me is to remove me from my job, so be it. If I end up unemployed, you will still provide for me. ●     BIO Michael Chen* is from Southeast Asia. He has more than 20 years of experience in senior management of four- and five-star luxury hotels across three continents. He currently works in Asia and enjoys travel and fitness training outside of work.     *Italics indicate pseudonyms. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.  
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Me? A Mentor?
I began with trepidation but found benefits that can help you be a mentor, too. Lydia Eckhoff | Non-profit management and development   When I think of ideal advisors, Missional Impact’s mentors come to mind. Retired senior vice presidents of Fortune 100 companies. Leaders with 30-year track records of integrating faith and work. Tutors who ask hard-hitting coaching questions and know exactly what to advise when someone brings up a workplace dilemma. That’s not me. I’m 33. I entered the workforce after graduate school, 10 years ago. Sure, I’ve learned some things in that time and I’ve grown in my faith. But most days, I don’t sense I have the answers. A lot of areas in my life feel messy and broken. When my pastors mentioned that some young professional women in our church wanted to connect with a mentor, I wondered how helpful I would be. They paired me with Carlie, a 25-year-old woman in her first job out of graduate school. We’ve been meeting regularly to talk about faith-work challenges and how Scripture speaks into those issues. I started mentoring with some trepidation, but our connection turned out to be one of the biggest blessings I’ve had over the past year. Maybe you wonder what you could offer someone who wants to live a fully integrated life. Before you dismiss yourself as unqualified, here are some reasons you might consider being a mentor.   Seeing God’s Power in Weakness One of Missional’s Impact’s leaders shared something powerful with me. He said, “I look back on myself 30 years ago, and think about how much I didn’t understand about God. There are so many areas where I wish I could tell my younger self what I know now. And yet, God used me 30 years ago. And the ways in which he used me 30 years ago are just as powerful as the ways he is using me today. Because, ultimately, it’s not about me. It’s not about you. It’s about God.” Mentoring Carlie helped me see the truth of what that leader shared. When I started meeting with her, I was in the middle of some difficult personal issues and felt distant from God in many ways. Although I tried to be proactive about spiritual disciplines, I went into that first mentoring meeting thinking, “I’ve got nothing.”   I went into that first mentoring meeting thinking, “I’ve got nothing.”    Surprisingly, that rawness and frustration helped me connect with Carlie. My plans are ones where I have it together and things feel calm and controlled. I never guessed how much power there is in admitting I feel challenged, that I struggle. Look at what God says in his Word. I know he is faithful. He can come through for both of us in what we are facing.   In 2 Corinthians 4:7, the apostle Paul writes, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” Later, in 2 Corinthians 12:9, he boasts about his weaknesses, since God’s grace is sufficient and Christ’s power is made perfect in weakness.   [God] can come through for both of us in what we are facing.   I am a simple jar of clay. But I also see the counterpart to that truth — the fact that God is at work in this mentoring. When Carlie mentions a challenge and asks for advice, if my first thought is, “Oh, no — I don’t know what to say,” then I need to pause and pray. “God, what is your heart and mind for this situation right now?” As a mentor, I realize my continual need for him.     Processing Your Own Journey When someone asks you for advice or shares a challenge, it is an opportunity to reflect on how God has worked in your own life. It gives you a new perspective on your own situation. As I recommend a Scripture passage or ask Carlie a question, I am encouraged to take hold of what I know to be true about God and let that truth shape how I communicate. Theologian C.S. Lewis said we need to be reminded more than we need to be taught. Being a mentor is a way to remind myself of what matters most. Also, mentoring is a way to affirm God’s faithfulness in my life. I see a younger version of myself in Carlie. For much of my twenties, I felt overwhelmed by work. I ignored my limits, enslaved by perfectionism. God graciously taught me about Sabbath, resting in my identity in him; about grace vs. performance. I learned some of these lessons the hard way, but God in his mercy continues to teach and grow me. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” Before, I hadn’t thought about those verses in the context of mentoring. Mentoring helps me recognize God as the Father of compassion and comfort in my life, and I can pass that compassion and comfort on to Carlie.   Investing in the Next Generation One of the task force members who helped plan the launch of Missional Impact’s mentor network — a certified coach with his own consulting practice — notes there is nothing more rewarding than setting someone up for success and seeing them win. That’s so true. It is fun seeing Carlie have a breakthrough. When those moments happen, I find myself saying, “Wow, that was totally God because I definitely did not do that.” Yet another reminder of God’s power resting on my weakness! After mentoring Carlie for about eight months, she told me: When we first started meeting, I listened to what you said about starting my day with time with God, about praying over my calendar and pausing throughout the day to refocus on God and recalibrate my state of mind. And it felt like just one more thing to do in an already stressful schedule. However, as I’ve practiced this over the past year, I’m realizing that seeking God actually builds capacity for everything else. My work has not gotten any easier. If anything, it’s more demanding now than when we started meeting. But because of seeking God and being in his Word as we meet to talk about the Bible, I am able to cope with what’s happening. If I had been facing these current challenges a year ago, there is no way I would have come through successfully. God is amazing. He changes people. If you want to have a front-row seat to God’s work in someone’s life, become a mentor! •     BIO Lydia Eckhoff grew up in Haiti. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin. Prior to joining Missional Impact in 2013, she served as executive director of a medical clinic for the uninsured and indigent in Houston, Texas. She lives in Kansas City, Mo.     Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Joy in Hanoi
Living on Purpose workshops and vision-casting inspire international church members to live fully integrated lives. Jacob Bloemberg | an international church pastor     On November 9-10, 2018, Hanoi International Fellowship (HIF) hosted the first Living on Purpose conference in partnership with Missional Impact and Missional International Church Network (MICN). Before taking on the lead role at HIF in 2005, Pastor Jacob studied, researched, and promoted marketplace ministry, business as mission, and the theology of work. The Missional Impact team is the first organization he has met that focuses on equipping international church members to live out their faith with joy in the workplace. This conference was a milestone event for all three partner organizations involved and a great benefit to those who attended.   The conference was split into three segments. Friday daytime served a small group of ministry and workplace leaders. The conversation was more intimate and relevant to those participating. Friday evening launched the conference for all church members. Jim and Ray of Missional Impact introduced the theme and concepts. Ryan, an English teacher in central Thailand, shared how transformational his experience has been in just a short time, inspiring him to be the best professional teacher he can be while loving the students, parents, staff, and directors with Jesus’ love. A panel of practitioners from HIF shared their experiences while working in Hanoi. These included a school counselor, a café owner, an embassy liaison, and an English teacher.   Saturday saw around 60 participants attend the workshops throughout the day. Missional Impact presenters cast the vision for the Living on Purpose devotional, which was launched during the event. This will help participants learn and walk out the ideas taught during the conference, rather than it being just a one-time event. The sessions were highly interactive, with opportunities for questions and testimonies throughout the day. In the afternoon, the group split in two, with one segment discussing mentoring workplace Christians through Missional Impact’s internet platform while the other segment created even smaller groups to share real life experiences.   At the end, all participants united for a final roundup and vision casting. The Missional Impact team shared the resources they are currently working on, including seven devotionals, an international mentoring network, and the online platform, which are all soon to be released. Attendees were tuned into what the Missional Impact team had to share over the two-day event, many having their mindset changed about how they view their work. One expatriate participant working a far distance from the city said the experience was transformational for him. This conference was the first of, hopefully, many more to come in partnership with the Missional Impact team.   If you are interested in hosting a similar event at your international church or need more information, contact Missional Impact. ●   Excerpted with permission from MICN’s November 2018 Incendium.     BIO Jacob Bloemberg has served on the MICN leadership team since 2005 and coordinates the conference and communications. He is lead pastor at the Hanoi International Fellowship (www.hif.vn) in the capital city of Vietnam. He and his wife, Linda, have served in Hanoi since 1997, where they have raised three children. As a Dutch citizen with an American wife, they have learned to thrive in a third culture and aim to help others thrive as well. Jacob is ordained and sent by Elim Fellowship in Lima, N.Y. With a MA in organizational leadership from Regent University, Jacob is on his journey to finish his doctorate in transformational leadership with a focus on city transformation through Bakke Graduate University. Jacob implements this missional vision with HIF through the Love Hanoi campaign (https://www.lovehanoi.org).
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Adversity at Work Can Clarify Your Purpose
Vicki Crane, an expert and mentor in leadership excellence and healthcare administration, shares a personal story about being resisting the urge to quit.   Missional Impact | mentor interview with Vicki Crane   Regardless of where you work or what you do, at some point you will wonder why the Lord has you in your current job. Most likely, this will happen when adversity hits. What can you do in those cases? Missional Impact asked Vicki Crane, one of our mentors, to share just such an instance from her career when she felt relentlessly pressured to give up.   Vicki and the Mountains of Adversity When I was asked to join the leadership team of a prestigious academic medical center, I was thrilled to be hear of their confidence that I was absolutely the person to take them to the next level —no national search, no competition for the job, no doubt that I was the one to lead the charge. Although my husband and I prayed and pondered this miraculous job offer, it was easy to accept as the Lord’s will for my life. After accepting the job but before starting it, I briefly basked in the rosy glow of success. Meanwhile, the center had a tragic medication error that made national news. Then, shortly after I arrived, it became obvious through talking with key physicians, leaders, and the staff that many basic, essential services were not in place in my areas of responsibility. The problems that led to those errors didn’t happen on my watch but fixing them would be on my shoulders. On top of the quality concerns, the drug expense had tripled in the last few years despite drug control programs and a substantial reduction had to be achieved simultaneously. I felt betrayed. I wanted to quit. My old employer would have welcomed me back with open arms. But then my husband, in his objective, scriptural way of thinking, asked, “Why do you think the Lord placed you there, gave you this job?” I decided to stay the course and see how the Lord (not I) would handle what the adversities ahead. I felt betrayed. I wanted to quit. My old employer would have welcomed me back with open arms.  In my early prayers, I wanted the Lord to move the mountains ahead of me. He didn’t do that. But he did give me the ability and the agility to climb them and keep walking with him. It became set in my mind that this was an opportunity —not an adversity — for faith and spiritual growth similar conceptually to Deborah facing iron chariots, Jehoshaphat facing five armies, Nehemiah before the Persian king, and Daniel in the lions’ den. I had to depend on the Lord or fail. Mountain #1: Medication safety | The medication system was thoroughly charted and analyzed. Many fail points were revealed in diverse areas e.g. training, independent double checks for dangerous drugs, timeliness of drug delivery to the patient care provider. After the investigation was presented to senior management by fail points and ranking of their potential adverse impact, there was broad support to implement the majority of the recommendations immediately and consider the rest in the upcoming budget cycle. Mountain #2: Drug budget | Usually, in this type of setting, the pharmacy and physicians are seen as being responsible for controlling drug costs while maintaining quality of drug therapy. This time, a systemwide initiative occurred where each division and its leadership were responsible for analyzing drug costs in their respective divisions and then coming together with all leadership for systemwide initiatives. Many extraordinary results occurred, but one of the best was the initiation of the patient assistance programs which have resulted in saving the system millions of dollars annually (with no decrease in quality) as well as assisting the large population of indigent patients in having state of the art drug therapy. Mountain #3: Quality management | A clinical safety committee was formed with oversight in order to not only implement quality standards but maintain and enhance them. Arguably the greatest gain was seen in changing the culture to one of continuous quality improvement. The clinical safety committee continued and evolved, and the medical center benefits from continuous quality management and advocacy from key physicians and leaders.     Reflecting on What Happened When people — leaders, staff, patients — observe that you don’t fall apart in bad circumstances, they logically wonder why. Why are you not panicking and stressed out like everyone else? Why are you different? Questions like these are invitations to talk about your faith. Thus, the greatest opportunity, not adversity, came through this crisis. An additional benefit was to advance in my own spiritual and professional life. …the greatest opportunity, not adversity, came through this crisis. From cursing to blessing | And it was all grace, all the Lord’s doing. Before the mountains of adversity, there was little understanding of continuous quality improvement or of teamwork between divisions. Afterward, a major change ensued in quality culture and was actively sustained. Over the next decades of employment and promotions there, I wanted to quit on more than one occasion. Why didn’t I? Because I always remembered that first year and how the Lord had turned cursing to extraordinary blessing for the whole health care system. No fear | Adversity is not something to be afraid of or try to get out of. Whatever the circumstances, they are God’s circumstances, not yours. Meet them head-on by asking for strength and wisdom to apply the Scripture you have in your soul to the adversity. A prayer for strength in adversity shows that you understand adversity is an opportunity for you to grow spiritually and humanly. Then, adversity becomes an opportunity to see the Lord handle the difficulties and to demonstrate to others around you the difference he has made in your life. A critical turning point | As believers in Christ, our first thoughts in adversity (and even in prosperity) should be to think about why the Lord has put us in that situation. There is nothing wrong with praying for an adversity to be taken away, but our next statement should be the words of Jesus to his Father, “not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). If God’s plan is for you to stay in that adversity, there is a positive reason for it (Genesis 50:20; Romans 8:28). Understanding that is a critical turning point in your thinking, your words, and your actions. Then you will have the opportunity to represent the Lord as an ambassador and to grow spiritually. Bad circumstances or people problems do not impugn God’s perfect character or plan, but they do reveal your faith. Though trials, God demonstrates that he is the only object of our faith. We trust God to bring about the harvest in his way and in his timing. A person who hangs in there and does a good job will be vindicated by the Lord. ●    Photo by Matt Sclarandis at Unsplash Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.   MEET THIS MENTOR Vicki Crane, a pharmacist-MBA, held progressive leadership positions in pharmacy, systemwide administration, and patient safety. Her practice focus included patient safety, transforming care through behavior changes, coaching and mentoring the leadership team, process redesign and technology innovation, and cost-effective, outcomes management. Vicki retired in 2013 but makes her expertise available in Missional Impact’s Mentor Network. | Read Vicki’s full bio. | Send a question to Vicki.