Training is a crucial part of the process in getting missionaries to the field. Every organization has its own practices and procedures and One Challenge is not unique in this respect. In the last 13 years, OC discovered that successful pre-field training centered on two major concepts: knowing oneself and understanding and working well with others.
Pre-field training has been a part of OC ethos since Dick Hillis founded the organization 60 years ago. OC had a 13-week program that covered a lot of what the organization thought the missionaries needed to know. But as OC grew globally, leadership discovered a lot of that information was country and field specific, so they decided to transfer that aspect of training to the fields. Now the program, currently called CORE, consists of three to four weeks, primarily focusing on inter-personal relationships and intra-understanding yourself principles.
In 2000, OC leadership gave Steve Aldrich the opportunity to re-envision OC’s training program, which began what Steve calls a “holy quest,” and out of this journey came Lifeworkx, a large part of OC’s training, CORE. Since its formation, Lifeworkx has expanded beyond OC and has been used in business and ministry settings all over the world.
Lifeworkx centers on two key aspects of the missionary or employee, how well they know themselves and how well they work with others. “Lifeworkx is a self-discovery based experience where you are the curriculum,” Steve says. The program focuses on the self and relationships, which aligns with OC’s ministry goals. “It gives a person in their toolbox, their emotional toolbox, the skills, the techniques, the nomenclature, the verbiage to navigate relationships and that’s what OC is all about,” Steve says. “OC is all about building relationships with (the local people and church).”
Lifeworkx has four major areas of focus: my unique story, my unique design, my innate strengths, and my unique destiny. Critical to making Lifeworkx work are mentors or observers. “I think that every training venue needs to have either peer debriefing or, we use the term, mentor debriefing,” Steve says. “So (OC) uses seasoned veterans who have field experience come alongside and serve as mentors.” The purpose of mentors is to observe and take detailed notes in intrapersonal situations, and it also allows people share in small groups and have one-on-one attention. “It allows, in our case in CORE, a missionary to be able to debrief in a small group and then also receive one-on-one coaching,” Steve says. “So the mentor at the end of the day can say, ‘Help me understand what I just saw happen between you and somebody else.’ So, that kind of debriefing, self-analysis and self-awareness is a really great coaching skill.”
The first step, my unique story, gives every participant the opportunity to share their story. The person is in total control of what and how much she shares. Many may say that sharing one’s life story with another is a very Western concept, but Steve says it’s a part of everyone. “I always come back to the fact that, don’t you already know somewhere deep within your psyche that you want to tell someone about who you are,” Steve says. “I don’t think I’ve travelled anywhere in the world in the last 43 years where when I’ve asked, ‘Tell me, what’s your story?’ That the next response isn’t, ‘How much time do you got?’”
Sometimes when sharing a story, horrific experiences come to the surface. One response Steve has received before a person will tell a traumatizing experience is, “I’ve done this before. I’ve done this with good friends of mine in a small group; I’ve spilled my guts on the table, exposed the most secret piece of my life but nothing happened.” Steve response is, “The good news is Lifeworkx will help you deal with what you’ve just shared and we call that reframing.” Reframing is going into the past, looking at a particular event and changing the message. “When I’m working with faith-based organizations, I tell them to place Jesus there. If I’m working with a secular company, I would say take the negative message and replace it with a positive,” Steve says.
“The heart of it is, from my perspective, Jesus was there when this bad thing happened to them.” Steve says often the most logical question after someone reframes an event and places Jesus in the picture is “Why didn’t Jesus intervene?” Steve says the only answer is, “I don’t know.” When Steve walks through horrific events with people and he helps them see Jesus in the memory, he often witnesses and emotional as well as physical change. “We’re going to go back to each of those stories and reframe them, once a person has done that, then they’ve got rid of childhood logic and replaced it with the truth, life is changed for them,” Steve says. “Those skills of being able to help someone else rethink about the fact that Jesus was there when this event happened changes everything.”
After participants share their stories, the second aspect of Lifeworkx, my unique design, focuses on personality. Steve has chosen the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) as the tool of preference, mainly because it is a well-tested personality tool, it has been translated into multiple languages and been used all over the world.
The third phase, my innate strengths, also uses a popular tool that has been tested and well-received, Marcus Buckingham’s “Strengths Finders Assessment,” which identifies your top five innate strengths.
To help participants see their personality and strengths play out in team setting, Steve orchestrates team-based games that are designed to cause stress and see how people function under pressure. During CORE, OC’s training, these games are mandatory but other companies can request them. The goal is to bring out any issues that may be a problem once a missionary is in a different culture working with a team. “We spend more of the time in CORE with our missionaries using stress-based games to invoke an interpersonal conflict,” Steve says. “We’d rather deal with it stateside than having to fly some specialist to get them the help they need once they are on location.” These stress-based games revert participants to their basic personalities and strengths so they can understand how they might act in a stressful situation.
The final piece of Lifeworkx, my unique destiny, brings all the pieces together and helps the person discover purpose and where he might make the greatest and most long-lasting contribution to a team or project.
The goal of Lifeworkx, whether it’s in a business or ministry setting, is to help people build their emotional intelligence, understanding themselves and others. “Interpersonal and intra-personal relationship intelligence are both components of emotional intelligence,” Steve says. “So if a person doesn’t understand himself, he or she will not have the ability then to understand the person sitting across the table. So, employers today, whether they’re Hewitt-Packard, Google, or in our case missionaries, want people who feel good in their own skin; feel comfortable with who they are and are able to do the same with everyone that they meet.”
For more information, go to: http://www.lifeworkx.com
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