by Jill Lienemann, Kesher International Missions | ©2011
“Do not plow with an ox and a donkey yoked together.” (Deuteronomy 22:10 NIV) In the physical sense, these two beasts of burden have different body structures, strengths, speeds and purposes for use. Therefore, when they are paired together to work the field, the ox, having more resolve for the task of plowing, will pull its teammate along and bear the extra weight of the donkey. Consequently, uneven row depths and crooked furrows will occur resulting in less than optimal seed growth, which leads to low harvest yield.
Chris experienced this phenomenon first hand on his mission trip. His team consisted of an unequal ratio of not so able-bodied men and physically fit ones. Additionally, they were faced with the daunting goal of completing construction of several shed-like houses in a limited amount of time. The vigorous guys worked tirelessly, taking up the slack, in order to fulfill the promise of adequate shelter for the selected families before the group had to leave. Although they were elated to be able to get the job done through Christ’s strength, the heavy load led to exhaustion and even resentment by some.
“Without oxen a stable stays clean [empty], but you need a strong ox for a large harvest.” (Proverbs 14:4 NLT) Leaders, if you are totally committed to building 20 homes in 5 days, it’s important you make the right team selection for the job. Not only is the quantity of participants important but also their physical capabilities. “The glory of young men is their strength: and the beauty of old men is the grey head.” (Proverbs 20:29 KJV)
On the other hand, if project completion is not as important as providing a mission work experience for members who have various skill levels, be sensible and readjust your objective. Think about scaling back on the number of houses built and supplementing the project with a few repair activities so that all participants feel a sense of accomplishment without being overburdened.
If you have gaps between team qualifications, time constraints and project goals, another suggestion is to consider tag teaming with other Christian churches. Coordination between different people of faith models a powerful picture of commitment and unity to those being helped and those who are watching us, Christ’s ambassadors, closely.
KESHER TIP (connection): The Sharpest Tool in the Toolbox
“…but with the humble (those who are lowly, who have been pruned or chiseled by trial, and renounce self) are skillful and godly Wisdom and soundness.” (Proverbs 11:2b AMP) Yes, humility is the sharpest tool a leader has for coordinating a mission trip. Cutting through the “I alone can do this” attitude, a wise leader enlists the skills and experience of others for certain projects on the trip. For example, if your trip is a construction or medical endeavor, intentionally recruit someone in that profession who can oversee the specific work and the assigned team from start to finish. Allow this person to exercise his/her leadership skills in his/her area of expertise but request regular progress reports.