One of the first phrases I learned in Portuguese was this one. "We are Together" The phrase doesn't just mean a physical proximity but an emotional and spiritual connection. It's a wonderful phrase that oozes relationship. It was with this premise and others that the International Internship in Mission was birthed.
One aspect of leadership training relationally is that for the experiment to work, the Leader and the follower must be willing to risk being EXPOSED. The goal is that the great gulf of fear, mistrust, hidden sins, perfect personifications would be exposed, thus bringing truth and honesty into the relationship. This way of life is a breeding ground for true, heartfelt relationship to grow and bear fruit, producing healthy and transparent leadership.
When we began the internship three years ago, I had no idea of the breadth and depth of exposure the decision to live this way would cause in my life. For three years, I have tried to live this way with our mozambican missional interns.
The up side is that I have witnessed first hand the transformation as the guys turn into some of the most amazing leaders I have ever seen. They lead with confidence, passion and character. It is with great joy that I serve along side them day in and day out.
The down side is that, in recent days, I have fallen short in my own leadership ability and my character issues and own pride have been exposed. Because of unthoughtful words, unkind actions and neglect I have caused hurt and harm to my relationship with the interns as well as influence in their lives.
To be honest, it has been a rough few weeks. Slowly and yet ever so consistently, the guys are revealing their hurt, anger, frustration and concern.
I have come to realize that the intent of my heart has been lost in the translation. After almost 7 years, I still struggle to choose the right word or expression causing misunderstanding. Also, I am still learning how to communicate my own hurt, frustration and disapointment in a culture where the person is directly connected to the action. It is almost impossible to disconect the person from the action; to reject an action or idea is to reject the person. I am still learning to to love and influence my african family.
Yesterday, I was praying through these issues and the Lord spoke as if to say, "Rodger....Duh!...."This is exactly what we envisioned 5 years ago. We wanted to create an environment where leadership could be exposed for what it really is. Leaders are broken, sinful people who are in the middle of their own sanctification. To live in an environment where the world is quite clear of your gifting and failings is scary and a dangerous place. However, God is answering our prayers. We clearly are seeing failure, forgiveness, restoration and love in a whole new dimension
We are truly together, however it's not as clean and tidy as it can appear from the outside.