Recently my son and I and another pastor enjoyed the privilege of training over 100 Haitian pastors in Port au Prince. We held the training at our host pastor’s church, a tin-roofed block building that could seat about 125. It had no air conditioning so the temperature inside rose to over 100 degrees. Five roof-mounted fans blew, but only moved the hottest air from the ceiling down to the pastors.
I learned four leadership lessons from these pastors.
- When you have little, you appreciate things more. Haiti, the poorest country in the western hemisphere, faced a magnitude 7.0 earthquake on Tuesday, January 12, 2010 which left over 300,000 dead, 300,000 injured, and 1,000,000 homeless. Not one of these pastors were untouched by the tragedy in some way. Our host pastor’s daughter was cocooned for three days in the rubble. His church dug her out, with picks and machetes. Added to their misery is a severe lack of training for pastors. Yet, these men and women deeply appreciated the few hours we poured into them. Their appreciation reminded to be more grateful for the abundance I experience in our country.
- Small things really do matter. At the conclusion of the two-day training, each pastor received a personalized certificate of completion. As we handed their certificates to them, shook their hands, and congratulated them they beamed with joy. Their joy reminded me that as a pastor I must constantly think of small ways that I can encourage others, whether with a gift, a kind word, or a thoughtful email.
- Patience does not depend upon circumstances. Not only did the temperature in that small church soar above 100 degrees but most of the pastors wore long sleeve shirts and ties. Some even wore a suit. [Their culture expects pastors to dress up.] Yet even as they sat in the sweltering heat, they conveyed utmost respect to each of us, although I did notice a nod or two. Their patience in these unfavorable circumstances convicted me that sometimes I get impatient waiting in life for more than a minute at the grocery store’s “ten items or less” line.
- We must invest in emerging leaders. I felt privileged that my 28-year-old son, Josh, joined me last year in Mexico when I trained pastors as well as this year in Haiti. He serves as an intern in New Hampshire and is completing his ThM degree at Gordon Conwell Seminary. The pastors loved him. At the end of the training they asked me to come back and stay for 15 days. They asked Josh to come back and stay for a year. Josh’s presence offered them hope that young, godly leaders do exist.
We planned for and delivered quality teaching on leadership to those 100 pastors. I pray that what we shared will help them further the Kingdom in Haiti.
However, I may have received the greatest blessing through what I learned from 100 pastors in 100 degrees.
If you’ve traveled internationally for ministry, what insights have you learned from your experience?
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