A sequence of events unfolded in 2015 that lead me to make a series of decisions, that lead to what felt like God hurling a wrecking ball through my life. I was sitting in the ruins of what was left of my life, sifting through the pieces in an attempt to make sense of the mess. It was one of those painfully humbling experiences that you never want to relive.
In the aftermath of the demolition, I accepted an invitation to join a team of missionaries heading to Vietnam. We were charged with teaching English to Vietnamese English teachers. I did what I usually do before making a big decision. I asked all the questions I felt I needed to ask in order to make a good decision.
In short, I was told it’s going to be easy-peasy, no big deal…
You only need to be an English speaker…
You don’t need a certification or additional training…
You’re good. They even have the curriculum manual that we receive when we arrive…
Don’t stress it!
We got there and it was immediately clear to me that all the hype was inaccurate. Their expectations of our qualifications were not at all what we were qualified to do. There is a difference between being an English speaker and an English teacher!!! I’m not an English teacher. I’m terrible at functional grammar. Hence, why I asked all the questions before making my decision.
I was. pissed. OFF!
It is not in my DNA to just wing a thing. I’m either all in or all out. There is no half stepping my responsibilities. I’m not wired that way. I am that intense over planner. It’s because I’m at my best and give people my best when I am prepared. And, I wasn’t prepared!
Meanwhile, the other two folks on the team were so unbotherd by the situation that it made me uncomfortable and even more angry. It turned out that the teachers we were teaching were at risk of loosing their job if they didn’t perform well on an upcoming test. We were there to help them pass that test and keep their jobs.
Talk about pressure!
To make matters even more intense, one of my team mates was more concerned about saving souls than saving jobs. That is not at all how I live out my witness.
I spent the next weeks, rising early and going to bed really late to learn what I was expected to teach the next day. When I got home, I would get on my knees and beg God to have mercy on every teacher and to spare them from our ignorance. It was so intense, at one point, I almost booked a flight to return home.
There is much more to the story, but in the end, the teachers passed their exam, and kept their jobs. They were so gracious, and never complained about our teaching. They certainly could have and it would have been, received, justified and warranted. They were grateful that we showed up. In fact, the superintendent of the district offered me a job. The irony! While in God’d grace and mercy, everything worked out, I learned some lessons that have forever shaped me and how I show up in the world.
Decisions are a reflection of the information received. Make sure the source and information is trustworthy and solid.
Trust your instincts!
Teaching is about leaving a lasting imprint on someone’s personhood. If you aren’t prepared to take the responsibility seriously, gracefully bow out.
Sometimes painful humiliation is the best medicine for cultivating humility.
In the midst of the messiness, somehow God makes something beautiful out of our ignorance.