I recently met with three men at a nearby hotel whom I’ve never met before. The first thing we did was introduce ourselves.
“I am John and I am the regional director for XYZ mission organization.”
“I am Zul. I am the Indonesian national director for XYZ mission organization and I report to John.”
“I am Alex and I used to work in business in the USA, but am now working under Zul who is under John. (He smiled at me as he said that). I’ve come on board to facilitate starting businesses by national believers in unreached Muslim areas.”
I quickly noted the differences in introductions and replied to Alex, “I understand why you defined yourself as you did, but tell me 2 things; one, do you have a title? And two, why did you say you worked under Zul who is under John?”
Alex answered, “My title is ‘BAM Coach’. I mentioned who I am under for that is what they did.” I pressed in, “When you used work in the real world, did you introduce yourself using a title and mentioning who you reported to?” A slight pause, then, “No rarely did I use my title, and never do I recall stating who I report to.”
Jesus’ life and work focused on relationships. Jesus spurned titles. Jesus focused on relationships. Our identity is to be in Christ, not our titles. People should respect us, not for our business card title, but for who we are and what we do. I may be alone in this and I’d like your input, but for me, when people introduce themselves with their title, I get a feeling that their life and work –their identity-is centered around themselves. People who introduce themselves by describing what they do and why they do it, those people seem focused on others.
I was at the Missio-Nexus meetings last Fall in Chicago. This is a meeting of the heads of most of the mission organizations based in North America. I found the same scenario there. People would introduce themselves by giving their name, organization and title. I determined not to do that. When people would ask, “What organization are you with?” I would reply, “The Kingdom of God.” Interestingly several people pressed me to know my organization and title. It seemed they needed to put me in the “organizational box.” I never answered them.
Missions and educational institutions give a lot of emphasis to a person’s title. Businesses give a lot of emphasis to people who produce. As we intertwine the disciplines of business and missions into B4T we need to be acutely aware of these differences. We need to recognize and be open to discuss which characteristics of business and of missions we wish to emphasize, seeking to discern which is more in line with Jesus’ teachings are.
More and more we are seeing across the Emerging Market Communities (10/40 Window) how workers from different mission organizations in one city or one people group are coming together and truly working together for the glory of God. We need to encourage one another that we are not overseas to serve an organization, but to glorify God. We need to remind our supporters we work for the kingdom of God and not an organization. The reason we go to work, play sports, live overseas, whatever we do, is to be for His glory. People who wish to compartmentalize and put us in boxes need to have their visions of God expanded. I do not want myself or my mission organization to receive any glory; I want it all to go to Him. So let’s covenant to focus on Him and keep Him the core of all we do and all we are.