Thursday, June 22, 2006

A Little Defensive

Last weekend, I sent my Jman girls to Madrid for a church planting class taught by a visiting seminary professor from the states. They said that they really liked what the teacher had to say, but that they came away discouraged, feeling like he didn't approve of our team's strategy as they shared it with him. Now, he's invited himself to visit our team's house church time next week.

Now I'm feeling defensive. Is he coming to confront us about the direction of our work? Why would he want to sit in on our worship time? We don't really invite others to come along, so it will be strange, anyway.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Paper Trail

I am responsible for the strategy and personnel here in the city. Being in leadership means that I find myself doing equal parts pastoral care, people management, and administration. I only like one third of my job.

This week I had to confront one of my team members about a negative evaluation he received from a volunteer team we hosted recently. The review wasn't good. Apparently, this guy came across to this prayerwalking team as rude, proud, and controlling. Since none of these particular characteristics are part of our mission statement, I needed to address the issue. Besides, this wasn't the fist complaint we've had about this team member, and I'm not entirely sure he "gets it."

It didn't go well. I read the volunteer team leader's notes to the team member. He sort of smirked. He dismissed the whole thing as an "attack from the enemy." When I explained that while criticisms like this were embarrassing and offensive, they also presented an opportunity for introspection and self-assessment. He disagreed, and refused to apologize for doing the Lord's work. There was no humble spirit. No willingness to look for a grain of truth to the accusations. No "Wow, I'm sorry I may have damaged our relationship with this partner church." Just a smug, proud, arms crossed, jaw set refusal to consider any validity to the charges.

Sitting across from him, I knew exactly what the volunteers were talking about.

Despite my role as "leader," and his pattern of passive-aggressive behavior that is disruptive to the ministries of other team members, I can't fire this missionary. There is no recourse for disciplinary action, and no reprimand. In the IMB food chain, my only recourse is to start a paper trail.

Building a paper trail is standard IMB practice for situations like this. It means documenting every conversation, every monthly report, every financial transaction, and peer reviews that might support my recommendation at the end of this missionary's term that we not support his return to the field. It's usually presented as: "I'm sorry, but I don't have any place for you on the team anymore." or "Strategically, we're going in a different direction." or "I just think there might be a better job match for you somewhere else." It's the missionary version of the layoff.

I hate paper trails. I feel like a real phony every time we talk now. It's not like I'm recording phone conversations or anything, but now, after we have a conversation, I summarize it in an email and send to him, just for the record. I try to reiterate any direction I may have given him, just so I can point back and say, "See, I tried." or something else to make it look like the reason this guy shouldn't be here is him, and not me. It's all an attempt to objectively quantify the performance of someone whose job it is to follow the Holy Spirit. I hate it.

I guess in a way I've been putting together a paper trail on myself. Blogging can come back to haunt you if you're honest and write about real stuff and not just how grateful you are to be on the mission field. I won't be surprised if during some evaluation with my leadership, some of my words on this blog are quoted in support of my dismissal.

I hate paper trails.