"Too many leaders! Not enough workers!"
That was Buffy's mental summation of our missions team after spending only a few hours with us.
Buffy is a Nazarene pastor's wife from Ohio. Her mom, Terri, wanted to go to El Salvador with us and asked that Buffy come along too. It seemed like a great opportunity to spend time with her mom as well as spread God's love. Buffy made the arrangements and arrived with high expectations.
But she quickly became anxious about the dynamic of our team once we were all gathered in Orlando.
"I've never seen so many people on one team that were 'in charge' kind of people," she said. "I knew we were in trouble. This was NOT going to be a pleasant trip!"
When traveling overseas there's an interesting element called "flexibility" that is essential to the success of any trip. But this is especially true in third world countries where the only certainty is that there are no certainties.
Even one person on a team who suffers from "inflexibility" or "do it my way-itis" can put the entire mission at risk. Buffy's past experiences caused her to smell imminent disaster brewing with this GGC team.
And it's true that every individual on that 21 member team leads something.
Pastors, business owners, department managers, lead sales people, office administrators, student leaders, teachers,........... Everything except a president.
That's a lot of people accustomed to giving direction.
Cram them all together in unfamiliar territory. Deprive them of sleep, hot showers and comfort foods. Change plans - frequently. Look uncertain for a moment.
Perhaps now you begin to smell the same potential for disaster as Buffy!
But the Holy Spirit served as the 22nd member of our team. And that power helped us all keep moving in the same direction.
At the end of the trip, Buffy said she had never been so glad to be so wrong.
It really boiled down to three important keys:
- Our trip leaders (the Buccafurnis) are incredible planners who expect the unexpected.
- Our pastor modeled that the best leaders are also excellent followers.
- Our entire team chose each day to remember that we were there for the El Salvadoran children - not for ourselves.
I guess that's what happens when we all choose to follow THE LEADER!