Major Causes for Attrition: Conflict
Conflict with co-workers is often cited as the number one reason for unnecessary missionary attrition. Most every missionary will experience conflict at some point in their career. Not just minor differences of opinion that must be tolerated, but gut-wrenching conflict. The kind that produces ulcers, ruins friendships, sabotages strategies.
I don’t believe that all conflict can be avoided (nor is it necessarily all bad). But I do believe that the damage that often results can be minimized or avoided. This is one area that can be greatly improved upon by pre-field and on-going training.
And by that I mean YOURS.
Everyone agrees that conflict resolution training for missionaries is valuable. What most of us advocates don’t realize is how valuable it can be for us. God can use us to help our missionary friends avoid, mediate, or resolve conflict. A little training would certainly help.
Here are some resources you may want to consider for educating yourself on this topic:
“What Missionaries Ought to Know About Conflict,” by Ron Koteskey, could also be titled “What Missionary Advocates Out to Know About Conflict.”
Birch Champeon provides this quick read that describes the causes and cures for missionary conflict.
Besides teaching you how to deal with your own conflicts, this interactive program will train you in helping others solve their interpersonal problems.
Ken Sande’s book “The Peacemaker” has been the gold-standard for conflict resolution for the past dozen years. Every missionary advocate should own a well-read copy.
Sometimes an on-site mediator is necessary for healthy conflict resolution. You may not personally feel qualified or be able to go. Walking In Their Shoes might be a good alternative. They meet with missionaries on the field to help them navigate difficult team dynamics. They would be a good resource for you to know about.
And now for the really radical part:
What if you took the same training that your missionary friends take? Read the same books, attended the same programs, did the same exercises?
You would be awesomely equipped to help them avoid the biggest source of missionary attrition.
Think about it.