• Our hope-filled future is bound up in sharing the story of Jesus, in discipling others, in bringing those disciples together into communities of believers, and in developing and releasing those believers to create other communities... till Jesus the King comes again!

A Developmental Mindset

I’ve been trying to get back into a regular running routine; that’s my best exercise. Normally, I’m out three times a week with each run involving a different program (long distance, speed work, etc).  However, travel and most recently a bad case of shingles have set me back a bit in that routine.  As I was thinking about starting up again the last week of August, I found myself just beginning from where I left off.  In fact, I was even considering of adding some biking or swimming on the off days.  Obviously, you recognize as I did, somewhat more slowly, that the notion of “development” was missing.  There was no thought of how to slowly move up again towards the training level I was hoping to reach.  I simply wanted to get going now and not have to go through the different stages again to reach that consistent level of training.

Maybe that is why the development of others (see recent posts on short and mid-term workers) is complex and often wearisome because it involves walking with someone through the “stages” of development. 

Dr. Bobby Clinton wrote in his book, The Making of a Leader: “God develops a leader over a lifetime.  That development is a function of the use of events and people to impress leadership lessons upon a leader (processing), time, and leader response.  Processing is central to the theory.  All leaders can point to critical incidents in their lives where God taught them something important.”  Would the same hold true if we replaced the notion of leader with “cross cultural worker”? 

The statement might then read: “God develops a worker with a cross cultural heart over a lifetime.  That development is the function of the use of events and people to impress cross cultural lessons upon a cross cultural worker (processing), time, and cross cultural worker response.  Processing is central to the theory.  All workers with a cross cultural heart can point to critical incidents in their lives where God taught them something important.

If that statement is in any way true, it should impact how I view the first day, week, month and year with a new worker.  And it should impact how I relate and “develop” that person.

2 Responses

  1. David, your comments are ‘right on’ as are Bobby Clinton’s. I was privileged to take two of Bobby’s classes, one of them on leadership, while in Irian Jaya back in the late 70’s. I’ve also had plenty of time to process and practice not only some of the things Bobby taught me but also the critical incidents in my life orchestrated by God Himself. I can’t say that I learned every lesson well but thank God, He has not grown weary in His teaching. Your running analogy is pertinent. I’ve gone through the same scenario many time in my some 40 years of regular exercising. Being faithful and up to date in my physical exercising has helped me keep up to date in my spiritual exercises.

  2. A developmental mindset is one that acknowledges the hand of God in personal histories and individual creations.

    Great quote, David. And it was just the right time for me to hear it: “God develops a worker with a cross cultural heart over a lifetime. That development is the function of the use of events and people to impress cross cultural lessons upon a cross cultural worker (processing), time, and cross cultural worker response. Processing is central to the theory. All workers with a cross cultural heart can point to critical incidents in their lives where God taught them something important.” I couldn’t agree more. And it is our pleasure in Mobilization to listen and trace that history in our interviews with potential candidates. This theology is truly practical, especially for those asking the questions:
    1. What does God want to do with my life? (post-college/training)
    2. What does God want to do with the rest of my life? (career-changer/finisher)
    3. Am I doing what I was “made to do” with my life? (those experiencing a lack of fulfillment in their work)

    Seeking answers to these questions is what the application process is all about, even before RACE. Helping people and churches with these questions is a way that Mobilization can develop candidates and serve fellow servants in their quest to do what they were “made for”. People can’t be “whoever they want to be” – but they will want to be what they were made to be, because it’s who they are and what they do best and what will prove ultimately fulfilling.

    It is our privilege in mobilization to foster a person’s awareness of their giftedness, in full recognition of their Creator and Redeemer’s authorship in their story. It is our privilege to point them to their Creator’s Redeeming process in their lives.

    Many people fail to recognize their gifts – to everyone’s loss. Or they spiritualize and compartmentalize “spiritual gifts” as separate and distinct from their natural, endowed abilities and predispositions. In sanctification, God is redeeming the unique man and the unique women. Homogeneity is not his goal in transforming us to the image of Christ. Furthermore, it is the diversity of each unique individual that makes us an effective representation of Christ’s Body.

    It would not benefit World Team or the kingdom of God to place people on the field, in teams, who are not gifted naturally or spiritually for cross-cultural church planting. Exploring “what they do best” and their histories are essential steps in an effective, productive mobilization process.

    Missionaries should be “made to do” missions, to include their passions, their endowed strengths/abilities/natural capacities, and the influence of circumstances and environments on their lives (how they have been shaped by their providential placement), so they are enabled to serve the world with excellence and, through service, love and honor God.

    Spiritual gifts are given for the edification of the church, but certainly not without any regard for the natural giftedness of the individuals. God doesn’t just randomly hand out spiritual gifts. It’s not pell mell. There is divine forethought and Creative purpose behind the gifts he gives to the unique individuals he gives them. He “gives them to each one, just as he determines” (1 Cor. 12:11).

    Impressing potential candidates with the following list of things (adapted from Arthur Miller’s book, The Power of Uniqueness), is crucial, especially when discussing missions, to ensure there’s no escapism or spiritualism in the mix, but, instead, an acknowledgement and articulation of God’s hand in their story directing their hearts to the field:

    1. God has created you.
    2. God has designed you in order to fulfill his purpose for your life: His glory and your sanctification and glorification with Him.
    3. God’s Spirit can dwell within you and actively seek to work his purpose out through your design. The Spirit inspires your nature to work and to do His good pleasure. And it is your pleasure, in your redeemed nature and makeup, to do so.
    4. God will hold you accountable for fruit produced from your giftedness.
    5. God intends to use your giftedness in work appropriate to its nature and within its boundaries.
    6. God requires you to love him and those you serve, with excellence and with passion (qualities only available through your design!).
    7. God promises he will bless you and complete his intention for your life.
    8. God has instructed us to build his kingdom on earth as it is in heaven, using the giftedness with which we were endowed.

    Some Christians don’t understand how to live and work as Christians. They might want to leave their jobs to do something more meaningful, something related to the church, to ministry, to missions, perhaps. But if cross-cultural ministry is not their giftedness, if God has not prepared them and sanctified them for the unique fit required to join a church planting missions team, it would be a disservice for us to mobilize them and a misallocation of God’s human resource.

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