Sunday, September 16, 2018

Back in the Canary Islands

 Back in January, I traveled to the USA to be with my mom who was battling ovarian cancer. I was blessed to be able to spend the last two weeks of her life caring for her. I wouldn't trade that for anything. I felt torn as it meant leaving Doug and Leanna in the islands by themselves for several months, but those are the types of difficult decisions missionaries often face. Above is a picture of the minister talking about the hope we have of eternal life in Jesus Christ, and I am confident my mom is now in heaven rejoicing with her Saviour.
We are back at work, and one of my favorite ways to engage myself with the locals is to teach English. I teach 15 hours a week, in addition to homeschooling Leanna. This is my way of getting to meet people, and serve them in a practical manner. I am reminded of the lyrics of the beautiful song,
"How can we reach a world we never touch? How can we show them Christ if we never show them love?"
The Lord has opened many doors through my teaching, and I've met many wonderful people on the island of Tenerife that I wouldn't have met otherwise. They are a very friendly people, but I didn't use to think so until I got to know them on a personal basis, and it has taken many years to gain their friendship and trust.
Language is the way God communicates with us, and the way we share God's message. Fortunately I enjoy language and was an English major at Wright State University back in the 90's. By force I had to become a learner of the Spanish language too. This has helped me be a patient language teacher as I appreciate how difficult it is to learn a foreign language, and I respect my students--many of them study three, four, or even five languages in school.
During the summer while in the US,  I was able to attend Michigan State University who hosted an Oxford Seminar for certification to teach TESOL/TESL/ TEFL. It worked out rather nicely as it gave me some extra time to visit my daughter's family who live in Lansing, Michigan. We also had a great time renewing friendships and visiting a few of our supporting churches.
One of the things the Lord is teaching me about the ministry is to be patient. We can't follow our own timetable or expectations when it comes to dealing with people. Learning is a process, and even though we would like to see people miraculously change overnight, it doesn't happen, and often there are setbacks and we get discouraged.
With that in mind, we keep plowing. We stick at it. Like anything else in life that is worth achieving, it takes time and patience. Sometimes I think the Lord is more concerned with changing me more than about me teaching others. This goes along with the idea of leading, or teaching by example.
My son-in-law recently preached an excellent message on gentleness. It challenged me to remember to be gentle with people. Be kind, courteous, and try to put yourself in someone else's situation. Be empathetic. Be genuine. The world is truly lacking in these qualities today. Do we communicate God's message with gentleness, or like a bull in a china shop? Take Psalm 18:35 to heart,
"Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great."

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Emotional Intelligence in the Church

I recently came across an article in Forbes Magazine about being a great employee, and realized that many of these same tips apply to pastors, missionaries, and to the church in general.

I Cor. 10: 31...."whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."
What makes a great employee?

1. They’re willing to delay gratification. One thing an exceptional employee never says is, “That’s not in my job description.” Exceptional employees work outside the boundaries of job descriptions. They’re neither intimidated nor entitled; instead of expecting recognition or compensation to come first, they forge ahead in their work, confident that they’ll be rewarded later but unconcerned if they’re not.

2. They think before they speak and wisely choose the best time and place to do so.

3. They’re in control of their egos. Exceptional employees have egos. While that’s part of what drives them, they never give their egos more weight than what is deserved. They’re willing to admit when they’re wrong and willing to do things someone else’s way, whether it’s because the other way is better or it’s important to maintain team harmony.

4. They recognize when things are broken and fix them. Whether it’s a sticky desk drawer or an inefficient, wasteful process affecting the cash flow of the entire department, exceptional employees don’t walk past problems. “Oh, it’s been that way forever,” simply isn’t in their vocabulary. They see problems as issues to be fixed immediately; it’s that simple.

5. They’re accountable. If you’re a manager trying to decipher a bungled report, “It’s not my fault” is the most irritating phrase in the English language. Exceptional employees are accountable. They own their work, their decisions, and all of their results—good or bad. They bring their mistakes to management’s attention rather than hoping no one will find out. They understand that managers aren’t out to assign blame; they’re out to get things done.

6.They’re marketable. “Marketable” can mean many things. Inside the organization, it means “likable.” Exceptional employees are well liked by co-workers. They have integrity and leadership skills (even if they’re not in an official leadership position) that people respond to. Externally, it means they can be trusted to represent the brand well. Managers know they can send these employees out to meet with clients and prospects without worrying about what they’ll say or do.

7. They neutralize toxic people. Dealing with difficult people is frustrating and exhausting for most. Exceptional employees control their interactions with toxic people by keeping their feelings in check. When they need to confront a toxic person, they approach the situation rationally. They identify their own emotions and don’t allow anger or frustration to fuel the chaos. They also consider the difficult person’s standpoint and are able to find solutions and common ground. Even when things completely derail, emotionally intelligent people are able to take the toxic person with a grain of salt to avoid letting him or her bring them down.