I have a question/thought about your latest email series on accountability. I have honestly been having a hard time thinking through these emails on accountability, and I think it dawned on me yesterday why. We have been accountable to a number of different things in our five years of living overseas. We have been accountable to things like praying for people on the street, sharing with people, sharing via relationships, etc. Recently I have been feeling averse to accountability and goal setting. Yesterday, as I read your email, I realized that for me, part of the problem is that I don’t have any grid for what it is I am supposed to be doing. It is easy to have goals for the business, but I am still not quite sure how business allows me to do ministry. I share with the people I work with, we pray at the beginning of days, and I try to tie scripture into my work and share it when relevant, but I don’t know what types of goals/accountability I should have. Many of the B4T success stories come from people that have bigger companies and multiple employees. I feel like my goal has been to get the business up and running so that I can model after the stories I have heard. I don’t have a grid for what a B4T company should do when it is just two American guys with no employees.
We have been going deeper into the world of B4T, and are often misunderstood by the people around us. We are ok with that, but I am realizing the big gaps that we have. We are doing our best to faithfully do what God is calling us to, but we honestly have no idea what we are doing! What may look like a lack of accountability is actually a lack of guidance. I am terrified of being in the 90% of mission workers that are labeled ineffective. But it makes me ask the question, what defines an effective B4T worker? I feel like I am lacking the answer to that question, and in that lack it makes it hard to know what goals to set and what to be accountable to. I have spent years with misplaced goals and accountability from a mission organization that doesn’t fully get what we are doing. I don’t want to carry that burden anymore, but I don’t know what healthy goals and expectations should be for myself.
I would love to hear your thoughts on how one goes about defining what success is in B4T. What are the characteristics of the 10% of missionaries that are making an impact? I could always use help in business, but far more important to me is understanding how B4T is measured and considered effective. I am learning that coaches/mentors are highly important. I look forward to the coaches coming to our country in six months. Up unto this point, I have felt so scatter brained, that I wouldn’t even know how to spend time with a coach/mentor so I haven’t sought it out. I don’t want to live my life without accountability, but I also don’t want to live my life with the wrong accountability. So again, I would love some feedback, ideas, resources, etc. that could help frame in my mind what a B4T worker should be doing in the realm of goals and accountability. It may be a case by case answer, or are there some general guiding principles? What are some example goals of people that you have worked with?
The answers to all these questions (metrics, balance, use of time, accountability, goal setting, being misunderstood, what is success) will be discussed at the B4T conference in Asia we are holding in August for workers. As one professional, Karsten, said after the last conference, “I never knew how much I needed like-minded fellowship.” If you truly feel called to do B4T above and beyond other callings and if you are struggling with your B4T or BAM, life and work, you need to be at this conference.
In former blogs I’ve written on the first 5 topics, those and my latest book are two resources that will help, but right now, this years B4T conference in Asia is a key resource. As I wrote earlier this year, relationships are the core to all we do. Answers, especially future answers, are not going to come from books, blogs or podcasts. They are going to come from life on life relationships that are united in God’s Spirit. We need like-minded fellowship if we are going to expand our thinking and grow in these areas.
PATRICK LAI and his family have worked in SE Asia for over 37 years. His experience in doing business with Jesus has brought him to understand the meaning of work and worship in the marketplace. He started 14 businesses in four countries, six of which are still operating. Patrick and his wife, May, mentor and coach businesspeople working where there are few or no Christians. Check out Patrick’s latest book, Workship, now available in paperback and e-book.