On titles and getting things done

A recent study in the Academy of Management Journal suggests that letting employees choose their own job titles can reduce their stress levels. I’m not sure if Julia, our Executive Director at ASAP Ministries, had this in mind when she asked if I had any ideas for my job title, but at least now I know that I don’t need to worry! My title is Field Projects Collaborator.

I enjoy the word “collaboration”–even though it’s a bit worn out–because it’s basically just a sophisticated word for “working together”. That’s what I’ll be doing in Cambodia. I don’t have the expertise for occupational training or microlending–even though I’ll likely be doing both. There are, however, a lot of people in Cambodia, Southeast Asia, and even the United States that do. I’ll be connecting with and learning from them, and we’ll work with each other to get these things done. The response to this project from farmers at the first annual Adventist Agriculture Conference this weekend was one really exciting expression of collaboration. I plan to write about that experience soon. For any of the conference farmers that are reading this: let’s talk. Watch out for an email from me soon.

If you know anybody (or if you are somebody) with skills in a technical, financial, or, really, any field that would like to share and maybe even get some inter-continental travel under your belt: leave a comment or email me! Please pray, also, that God will contribute all the resources and relationships necessary to make any collaboration effective.

Preoccupation with titles and responsibilities is inversely correlated with productivity. The Academy of Management didn’t publish that, but from anecdote, I think it’s true. So now that you know my title, let’s move on.

What should we do?

Why I’m leaving my family and moving to Cambodia

Can a plant survive without roots? Can a believer be part of the body of Christ without staying in one place, with one church family? I’ve just started working at ASAP Ministries here in Berrien Springs, and in two months I plan to be moving away from my church family at Harbor of Hope and going to Cambodia.

So I’m asking: why am I leaving my family and moving to Cambodia?

It’s not because I’m needed more in Cambodia; Christ is needed. It’s not because I’m restless and want to travel; I–sort of–want to settle down. It’s not for the money, either.

It’s because I think God is taking me there.

Sometime around the start of October this year, Julia and Pastor Scott at ASAP Ministries called me in about a new position. I’d been talking with them about a different position that was based at the Berrien Springs headquarters. It would allow me to participate in the Harbor of Hope community while maintaining the worldwide focus inherent in a job with a mission to spread the gospel in Southeast Asia. The perfect combination, I thought.

The new position would be based in Cambodia.

I didn’t want to go.

Harbor of Hope is so beautiful. The diversity, the unity, the struggle–it’s all real. I’ve attended since my freshman year at Andrews, and so much has changed, so many people have grown, so many things have happened and I’ve been transformed because of it. Besides this, we’re on the edge of so many great things! So many people in this community are committed to building up the surrounding neighborhoods economically, socially, intellectually and spiritually until Christ comes. The Sabbath School classes are becoming action units–the core of the church. Everybody is getting ready to do their part. The kingdom is so near.

Besides all of that, I wanted to be committed; after 6 years of seeing people from Andrews come and go through this congregation, I wanted to stay. I didn’t want to be just another student, graduating and moving on to a career. I thought that church, rather than career, should be the determining factor in where a person lives. I still do.

So I told Julia and Pastor Scott I’d need to think about it.

A series of events followed that I credit to God.

That evening, before I’d talked with anyone else about the decision, I opened my Bible. I didn’t throw it open and push my finger down to a single verse on the page; I just started skimming through it. In Romans, I read:

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

In America we’re kind of spoiled. Our problem is not finding Bibles, but finding the time to read them. In Cambodia, millions have never heard that Christ exists. And so I began to think a little differently after reading this text.

As the week went on, friends and family all showed support for the idea. My Sunday evening prayer group was particularly excited. All of this positivity had me feeling somewhat favorably toward the opportunity, too, but one thing still had me doubting: my current project ideas for Harbor of Hope.

Pastor Taurus and I had tossed a few different business ideas back and forth this year, and we met that Monday to talk about a few of them. A lot of people are looking for work in the area, and we wanted to offer them something. After the meeting, I brought up this opportunity. I think he was surprised, but he thought for a minute, and then he said:

“I’ll tell you the same thing my conference president told me when I was thinking about moving back to Michigan: I don’t want you to go. But I’m not your leader–God is–and we’re both part of the same cause under His leadership. Go wherever He is calling you.”

Then he thought for a moment more, asking me a few things–my age (24), my major (international business), current relationships (solo)–and said, “You should go. Sometimes you feel God is impressing you to say something, and I think right now that’s what I should say.”

As we prayed, Pastor Taurus asked God to lead me and, once I decided, to give me unmistakable joy as evidence that I had made the right decision.

On the drive home, I decided to go to Cambodia. I felt great joy.

So why am I leaving my family and moving to Cambodia?

Because I think God is taking me there.