A dear friend, with whom I graduated college, and her husband are some of the most amazing Christ-winners in the hard, spiritual soil called Japan that I know.
She did her doctoral dissertation on what the thematic elements are that are make or break for people to last long-term in Japan or attrit after a few years. One of her findings was that we need connection with other people who are in the same predicament we find ourselves in.
Its the whole “we are in the same boat together” idea.
Community Essential to Resiliency
The early years of cross-cultural work bring similar predicaments the world over: language proficiency, enculturalization, learning to live amongst spiritual oppression, ministry discovery and placement. Many places add the dynamics of security concerns.
What my friend found is that if the workers who are in this early stage of acclimating to the field find each other and stick together, they have a higher chance of thriving.
We need others to laugh and cry with who “get” our life.
Relational or Mentoring Constellation
Dr. Robert Clinton came up with the concept (I believe) of a “Mentoring Constellation.” The idea is we need a constellation of relationships in our lives.
The attached .pdf can be downloaded and used for you to ponder who you have in your life.
Here is an explanation of each “category” of relationships:
Mentors – we all need people who pour into our lives. These relationships can be formal such as a professor, counselor or spiritual director, or less formal such as an older person you spend time with.
Peers Inside Our Organization – these are colleagues in our organization. As peers we journey together toward missional objectives as well as tending to one another.
Peers Outside Our Organization – these are peers who are not part of our immediate context. These relations are important because they bring fresh objectivity into our world. And they can be a safe place to appropriately process dynamics in our present circumstances.
My wife and I are part of a small circle of three couples who talk regularly by video call. We live in different countries. We are a safe place to openly share life and hear one another’s perspective. We also have a small circle of peers who live in our area. I cannot imagine not having these and other safe places to talk.
Mentorees – these are people we make ourself available to. A key element of finishing well is that we develop others, not as the local “guru,” but as available, experienced journey mates.
Design and Pray for Your Community toward Resiliency
Who do you have in each of these areas of your life? Where can you find them? Others need you too, so pursue others to be available for them.
Be relentless in pursuing these relations as we all need them to be resilient and healthy in this journey. Ask God to provide key, mutually beneficial relationships in your life.