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Why good STM leaders need training and bad leaders don’t

When I tell people I coach people to become good STM leaders (awesome at international mission) I get a few common reactions.

  1. Cool – I would love to travel like you!

  2. You really should talk to [insert someone else’s name here] they really need to do a better job!

They mean well, but the truth is that I don’t bother following up on their suggestion. I have learned that people who do mission poorly are the same people who have been doing it the same way for a really long time. I can’t help those people, they don’t want to change, they like doing mission their way.

That is why I work with churches, hosts and agencies who are already great at Short Term Mission. Anyone who is great at something wants to get better! Ask anyone who is skilled at anything and they will all tell you the same thing – I have a tonne of room to grow.  It is only the newbie who thinks that they have arrived.

Bad Leaders always tell me “I’m Good”

“I’ve done this before” is the most common excuse I hear when people don’t want to grow their mission. I have met with countless leaders with years of experience who have all done this before. The truth is that when you are the one evaluating your own efforts they will always look pretty good. It is easy to reinforce your bad habits and do things the same way year after year. Research shows that the the less a person actually knows about something, the more they believe that they are an expert.

You got it – The worst STM leaders tend to typically think that they are the best!

I have questioned every mission host I know about this. I ask them to describe their worst teams. Every time they tell me that the worst teams are the ones where the team leader has a lot of experience and has not changed or learned something new in years. I have met those leaders a hundred times.

It’s hard to train a leader who thinks that way. So, I don’t even try.

Good STM leaders look to grow

“I’ve done this before and I want to stay fresh” is the heart of the greatest STM leaders. They can’t help but want to get better every time. Those are the people that I love to meet. I don’t have to listen to good STM leaders tell me all about how experienced they are, but that experience oozes through. They are not proud. They have nothing to prove, they just have this insatiable desire to get better and better. They reach the standards of excellence. Good STM leaders participate in the mission of the kingdom in new and incredible ways.

Hosts love these kinds of leaders. They are the ones that they brag about to other missionary friends, they go out of their way to accommodate their teams. They invite them back for special events and share the real secrets of life and mission together.

Good STM leaders never see training as a remedial step, a necessary evil, or something for people just starting out. The best STM leaders are always looking to sharpen their edge and grow new skills.

Is it time for you to grow your skills? Check in with me

Which group are you in? How do you know?

Mark Crocker

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