Opportunities For Trust or Disappointment {Book Club}

The other week I was in a book store and had to grab my phone to capture this:


I had no idea this book existed, but that is the photo I used when I’d talk with those new to the field about teammates. “This is probably what you expect.” Flash cute picture and people oohed and ahhed because most of us did expect this type of relationship with teammates and co-workers. “Let’s hope you don’t get this.” And I’d flash a photo of an alligator who’d chomped off an arm.

Ha-ha. All funny in orientation when you haven’t been burnt by teammates. Still, I’m a fan and believer in the idea of “unlikely friendships.” Today we’re looking at our expectations with co-workers and teammates in Expectations and Burnout: Women Surviving the Great Commission ( by Robynn Bliss and Sue Eenigenburg).

The opening quotation strikes me every time I read it. “M women tend to be more tuned in and critical of how other M women spend their time.” It’s true. What I keep wondering is why? Why are we more drawn to this than other areas of comparison. What is it about how people use their time that bothers us so much? Part of it is probably the lie we believe about our value being tied to what we do. I also think money plays a role here too. I know I love my supporters and need them for so much more than their money, but I tend to feel guilty if I’m not “working hard enough.”

(And what is “enough?”)

What did you think of the idea that we often arrive better trained and able to work with locals than with each other? America has significantly different sub-cultures and I’ve seen some of the greatest stress coming from working with others from your “same” culture. Sometimes you’re not nearly as similar as local friends might think.

On the other hand, we’ve also heard stories of the power of love. How people think we’ve known each other for years by the way we treat and help each other. These are the good stories, eh? The best of us. When the fruit of the spirit is alive and well (be sure to read Thursday’s post by M’Lynn for an example of this). However, it’s not a given, is it? If you haven’t, register for the retreat — one of the speakers directly addresses this.

Ttightropehis is the area I have seen over the years where people are the most likely of all the areas we’ve looked at to swing to one extreme or the other. Either placing unrealistically high expectations that no team can bear or so low, there is no risk or investment.

I appreciated the authors’ call to self-reflection: What am I putting out there? Am letting people know when I need help? Am I letting people know when I want to figure something out myself? Do I expect my team leaders to be more than they can be? To have all the skills, giftings, and character development of Jesus? 

And most importantly: What’s it like to team with me?

Maintaining balance is impossible if we don’t, with God, examine our expectations and embrace the tension and risk this area needs.

This video will bring a smile and watch for the message at the very end. If you’re reading this in an email, click here.

This is a deep and important subject. One where we’re all going to be influence by our experiences. So, do share!  Book Club Buddies, what stood out or was stirred in you?



P.S. Next week we discussion the chapter on the culture.

Disclosure : Amazon Affiliate links included in this post.  If you click through to Amazon, any purchase you make supports this site. 

Photo Credit: What is in us and Alicia via Compfight cc


  1. Kay Bruner April 6, 2015

    I don’t know if you’re familiar with Deborah Tannen’s work?  “You Just Don’t Understand” about how men and women differ in their communication with each other.  The communication of men from early on is more about differences (My dad is bigger than your dad) while women tend to be looking for similarities (You have a mom?  Me too!).  This is part of our nurturing skill as women:  figuring out how we are alike.  I think the ugly flip side of this is that a lot of times we need other women to be “like me” in order to feel okay.  We may feel threatened by differences, whereas men may feel more like differences are normal, good, and fun.  And at a time when we’re experiencing a lot of stress anyway, women who are “not like me” or a self who is “not like her” is a place to put all the pain we’re feeling anyway.  After all, it’s way better to be mad at a female teammate than a husband, or God, or whoever we really have the problem with!  Here’s a video I love of kids talking to each other with Tannen’s commentary:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUxnBZxsfoU

  2. Elizabeth April 9, 2015

    Real fast Amy — I want to talk about this chapter for sure, but have been swamped this week. So check back later and I hope to get a comment up here! Love you!

  3. Joy April 12, 2015

    If you are looking for another good book club book, I recommend My Seventh Monsoon by Naomi Reed.  She and her husband and family lived in Nepal for many years, and she writes about their life, describing it as different seasons, and showing how her self, her expectations, her work, her everything was different in those different seasons.  I’m so enjoying reading this right now and relating to so much of it, and think that a lot of others in our line of work would as well.

  4. Elizabeth April 14, 2015

    Finally got some time!
    The part about women going through training and being warned about the difficulties, and still expecting good team relationships and being shocked and disappointed when there are difficulties, that stood out to me. I wonder if we think we are immune, that somehow *we* will make our team relationships work, even if other people have had trouble before. I remember coming to the field and being pretty confident in my teamwork and people-pleasing skills. I’d worked on lots of teams before, always quite successfully, and with people who were very different from me. I’d always been able to find common ground, and in fact had always taken the lead in solving tricky problems, trying to make everyone at least somewhat happy (which makes me happy too – not only do I like a solution that pleases me, I also like everyone to be happy). I thought those skills and experiences would be enough (in addition to our pre-field training). I went in overly confident. I wasn’t prepared to have interpersonal issues that needed tending, so much tending that it would overwhelm me and I would realize not all problems can be fixed.
    The part where m’s keep their stress inside because everyone else looks like they’re coping successfully – whoa. That’s like a never-ending, self-perpetuating cycle. If everyone keeps up appearances because everyone else is keeping up appearances, well, ouch!
    “This M mother tried to balance her ministry in her home and outside of the home; however, no matter how hard she tried to fill both roles, she felt criticized by other Ms.” Umm, YES. We’ve talked about that other places so I won’t rehash it here, but yes! Such a conundrum for women especially. Somehow moms deal with this and dads don’t. I won’t even go into how sexist this is!! Our team is young and small and we haven’t figured much out yet. However, one thing we have all discussed already is this balance, and each of the 4 women is balancing it differently. So far we have all been supportive of each other’s choices and hopefully we’ll continue being sensitive as our choices change and grow. J
    “So, not only do M women feel expectations from other Ms, there can be a sense of competition. Who is ministering more? Whose gifts seem most important?” I was surprised to find other people have felt this, and I don’t think it’s limited to women at all. Men with different gifts compare themselves to each other, too. We all do. It’s something God has really worked on me this year, but I know it’s still pretty prevalent in church culture in general – no matter the country. We compare, and we think we don’t measure up, instead of taking joy in the gifts He HAS given us, and serving him with those.
    The “professional mystique” section – oooooh so important. Our expectations not being based on reality, but on M biographies. YES. I definitely had that, which is why I thought I could never do it myself.  “In portraying Ms as nearly faultless, writers do future Ms a disservice.” Yep!
    “There are certain traits that tend to make for successful Ms – self-motivation, self-discipline, the ability to ‘fly by the seat of your pants,’ a certain fearlessness and ‘depart from the mold’ personality. Those very traits, however, often make it difficult for those types of personalities to work together. It has been a surprise to see the extent to which cross-cultural workers don’t get along with one another, nor do they really trust one another.” I think that was a very important point and something to think about.
    “It seems that strengths become magnified in cross cultural work, but then so do weaknesses.” I LOVED this, because it acknowledges both sides. Most people just warn you about the weaknesses part, but no one talks about the strengths part. I love that they acknowledge that.
    “I’m surprised by our ability to sin as badly as anyone else and be harder to get along with that ordinary church members.” Yes. Still disappointed in myself when I am immature and crabby and rude, and I think, am I not beyond this yet? I’m usually pretty easy going, so being hit in the face with the darker parts of my personality is still very painful for me – happened just this week in fact. Ouch!!
    And toward the end, the part on spiritual warfare where she says we don’t have to use special prayers or poetic words, that the power is in JESUS, not our words, not our “anointing” or experience in prayer. That’s so important and freeing. I remember being so scared to move here, based on some expats stories of the spiritual warfare. Then we went to this counselor beforehand, and I shared my apprehensions. He assured me I didn’t have to be scared if Jesus is with me. He assured me Jesus loves me and it’s not MY word power that protects, but HIS power. All we have to do is call out to Him. This was so important for me being able to move to SE Asia in the first place, and has prevented me from being overly scared many a time. I just remember Whose I am, and Whose power protects me, and Whose Spirit lives in me, and I am no longer scared. Resting in Jesus and His authority (not ours!) is a powerful, freeing truth.

  5. Elizabeth April 14, 2015

    Sorry — not good paragraph distinctions. I copied from a Word doc and didn’t check for spacing on here. Hope you all are having a good week 🙂

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