I’ve talked to a number of mission committee members about the missionaries their church supports financially. Many committees are not happy. Why? Reason #3, some missionaries are too independent.
As it turns out a missionary’s strength is often his weakness. What I mean is that the profile of someone who desires to move away from all he knows and then set-up life in a place where he doesn’t even know the language is one of independence. However, someone who can’t work well with other people, work under authority, or when in a bad situation flees as far away as possible, shows the negative side of independence.
The key distinction whether a missionary is a maverick who can break down barriers to get the job done and a rebel who should not sent is whether anyone follows them. A maverick is able to win and draw people in. A rebel creates friction and disunity. Often, they end up causing more harm than good.
What should we do?
Before agreeing to sponsor a missionary, take a look at his record over the last few years. Are there many moves and job or team changes? This may be a sign that he can’t get along with others. Has we every worked successfully on a team for more than a year? If not, you may want to withhold your support until this becomes true. Working on a team is an essential skill for a missionary.
After a missionary is on the field, it is very difficult to get accurate information on how they really are doing. A warning sign is if the missionary changes teams often, normally it should not be more than once a term. Another warning sign is if they want to change sending organizations. Normally sending organizations are tolerant of missionary behavior; a request for a change may be pointing to someone who can’t get along with others very well. Don’t just hear one side of the story, before agreeing to continue funding, talk to the team leader over the phone. He will probably be more open over the phone than in writing.
Stewarding the financial resources is an important role in your church; avoid the error of funding missionaries that are too independent.
See summary article here.