Recently I have pondered the question: What if 54-year-old Jonathan could go back and talk to 34-year-old Jonathan? 24-year-old Jonathan? What would I say?
And the answer: A whole lot.
In fact, just this morning in our house my wife and I held the first high school bible study/breakfast of the school year, and I told the kids for the 13th year in a row, “I want you to know everything I wished I had known before I was thrown to the wolves at the University, but no one taught me.” It is a drive in me. Prepare the next generation of Jesus’ followers to walk closer, live bolder, and love better than I did. So that they – in turn – might do the same for those they lead in Jesus’ ways.
Since leaving Central Asia 15 years ago Janie and I have gotten to visit countless teams of missionaries in so many cultures and places and we have learned so very much. And I am always thinking “Oh, if I could have learned this or just known that, I would have been a better and completely different kind of leader.”
And now Janie and I have been given an amazing gift from God. We get to go work with the 24 and 34-year-old “Jonathans” struggling to lead teams in some of the most isolated and difficult places on the planet.
Back when I was in my mid-thirties, I was leading a team in a remote, religiously and politically restrictive area. Our team was everything to us: our family, our workmates, our playmates, our friends, and our church. And under my leadership that team blew up. I was devastated. I did not understand why.
Today, after all my experiences around the world and here at home, I know exactly why it blew up: what I did wrong, what I neglected, how I hurt teammates, and more importantly, I know how this could all have been avoided, and how I could have lead the team through these hard times.
These past 15 years I have seen this “blow-up” that happened on my team repeat itself probably 50 to 100 times on other teams all over the world, and I think “This does not have to happen. It can all be different.” These team members experience enough hardship and pain as it is. They do not need their team to blow-up. And Janie and I know we are called to go into these places and help such teams to thrive.
This involves working with the missionaries, their teams, their organizations, and their sending churches. Our goal will always be to help them share Jesus’ love through building thriving servant-led communities. We have landed with an organization that shares these same values. Co-Serve International. I know a lot about their values because they have radically shaped my own as I just stepped off the board after serving nine years. It is a perfect fit.
Thank you for being willing to pray for us.
Every couple of weeks we will send updates on what we are doing, but we also want you to be able to hear and learn the things God teaches us about leadership through the amazing people we will be working with all over the world.
Others of you graciously have asked if you can give toward this ministry and how to do that. If you have any questions, write us.
I want you to know that Janie and I have been overwhelmed with your love and generosity in this time of transition for us. It is quite an adventure to step back out like this, but this much is true.
His goodness is you!