No matter what your official title might be for your role in short-term missions, you are a leader...now more than ever. It’s important to remember that people are desperately looking for direction in a time like this and amazingly, they will likely do what you suggest.
Perhaps another way to think of yourself is a guide...someone who is walking a few steps ahead of others, someone who has a plan, and someone who knows the path. And here’s the great thing, you only need to know the path a little better than everyone else to help guide them well.
So this begs the question, how do you lead well? There are many attributes of leadership that we could discuss here but let’s focus on a few that intersect the most with the current circumstances.
Transparency: don’t hold the cards of information close to yourself (either from participants or other team members). Share what you know and share it openly and quickly. Far too often, people hold onto information as some form of capital. Leaders share information quickly so those who are following have the tools to make the best decisions on their own. Be transparent about what you know, what you’re hearing from partners, your concerns, alternate plans for the future, and so on. It’s really a matter of honoring other people well when you are transparent.
Communicate: we all know this but if you think you are over communicating then you’re closer to where you should be. You might want to consider building a weekly communication plan as a means to touch base with everyone about the current status, how things are looking for future plans, what your partner groups are doing, how they can stay engaged, and anything else that could help them. It’s always better to communicate out to your constituents before they are requesting information from you.
Engage: everyone is feeling like a caged animal right now. Remember that your offering of short-term missions trips has a goal for people to use their skills for something bigger. You don’t offer short-term trips so people can see the world - you offer them to make a difference. In a similar light, you can be engaging and encouraging people to make a difference right here and right now. Check out some of the suggestions later in this resource.
These are simply a few suggestions. Just remember that you are a leader and people are looking to you to lead them and to guide them. People want to be led, especially by people they know and trust. And even as these are uncertain times for all of us, you still have an incredibly unique opportunity to lead others well.
This is one post of many we're doing related to the current crisis. Download Cancelled: A Guide to Maintaining Missions Engagement When Your Short-Term Trip is Cancelled.