During the month of January we are discussing some of the core challenges of aid/mission life. By core we mean the main inner issues and the main external issues that affect us, for bettter or for worse. They are those inner struggles that we all wrestle with—the matters of the heart (e.g., discouragement, forgiveness, grief). And these struggles are often stimulated by external circumstances or problems (e.g., cultural adjustment, separation, safety).
Let's be sure to consider our own inner experiences too--the core issues for ourselves--as we converse about the challenges of aid/mission life.
Core Challenges for Aid/Mission Workers
- Pessimism--loosing perspective on the good things in life, due largely to the ongoing exposure to human problems and misery
- Staying centered--remaining connected with oneself in the midst of many responsibilities and the demands of living; and remaining connected with God
- Focusing on others' interest--self-preoccupation to the exclusion of others’ needs; not checking in to see how other people around us are doing
- Forgiveness--holding on to perceived injustices which arise from conflict with colleagues, the host culture, frustration with oneself, etc.
- Drifting--getting off the main tasks and the reason why we work in aid/mission, via distractions, interruptions, avoiding responsibility, etc.
- Transitional grief--the pain from saying many good-byes, multiple moves, missing loved ones, unresolved relationship issues, etc.
- Contentment--being satisfied in knowing that one is following his/her values, in spite of minimal work results, pressures to perform, and limited sense of fulfillment in one’s work
Reflection and Conversation:
- In what ways have these seven issues been part of your life?
- What helps you work through these issues?
- What other areas would you include as being core challenges?
- How do these issues relate to the research on stress and adjustment?
Note: This material is adapted from the article “Running Well and Resting Well” in Doing Member Care Well (2002). This article and book are available to view or download for free at http://www.wearesources.org/