As children of God, we have all been given unique gifts. Strengths are such an important part of understanding a person and the way God created him/her, yet we often don’t take the time to explore our given gifts/strengths. We volunteer for specific jobs or tasks, but they don’t always align with our gifts and talents. If we want to make the most impact in the world, we have to start living in a way that honors our given strengths.
“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God suppliesin order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” –1 Peter 4:10-11
If you are attending or leading a mission’s trip, I challenge you to spend time beforehand really delving into strengths discovery. There is a free Character Strengths Assessment participants can take here. Leaders should have participants send the results to them, and then the entire team can meet together for a debrief to follow. Be sure that everyone attending the trip (leaders included) takes this assessment.
Here are questions leaders can ask during a strengths discovery debrief with the mission’s team:
What surprised you about your results?
What pleased you about your results?
How do you think your results will positively impact the team?
What responsibilities during the mission’s trip experience do you believe would fit well with your unique strengths?
After these questions are answered, leaders should work hard to allocate roles based on the strengths of the team members. Responsibilities should be given to the ideal person for the job based on his/her strengths. And remember, the best kind of team is one that is well-rounded.
A genius in the wrong position could look like a fool.
Your vision for your trip will be better accomplished when you include strengths discovery in your preparations. Think about it; some participants have never explored their strengths, so not only will they be able to discover the ways the Lord created them but they will, for the first time, get to live into their strengths while on the trip! This will increase the impact they will make and transform the way they live from then on!
Though mission’s trips are an impactful experience, ultimately, the goal of a trip for the participant is to leave the experience being ON MISSION for Christ in their everyday lives!
So how does that happen?
On a trip, participants will work together to medically assist locals in a variety of ways. They will serve those in pain and discomfort and bring healing and relief to their bodies and souls. Watching these transformations will often cause feelings of “being on fire for God!” When people return from mission’s trips, they experience a high that often fizzles out as they distance themselves from the experience. But those who remain “on fire” or are able to see a transformation within themselves are the ones who don’t just let their experience end on the last day of the trip.
Here are a few tips to apply what you’ve learned from a mission’s trip:
1. Make time for intentional debriefing.
In the article, Experience 4 Phases After A Missions Trip, we walk you through how to debrief, process, navigate through, and take action after the trip. Proper debriefing will allow the lessons learned to stick and make an impact to the fullest extent.
Here are a few questions from that article to think through:
- What experiences stand out?
- What parts of your trip do you want to capture and remember?
- Why did those experiences stand out?
- What have you learned about God?
- What does your new normal look like?
- How do you want to impact the people around you based on your experience?
- What change do you want to implement into your life?
- What impact can you make as a result of your experience?
2. Stay in close relationship with God.
During a mission’s trip when the central focus is on God, it’s easy to feel connected and to make a difference. But when you jump back into your everyday life, culture, and overall busyness, it’s easy to forget about the one who sustains us. If you want to apply what you learned from your mission’s trip experience, it’s important to stay in close contact with the Lord. Look for ways to express gratitude. Look for those in need — not just physically — but those in need spiritually. You will only notice a spiritual need if you are in tune with the Holy Spirit. Some needs aren’t as obvious as the ones you will see each day on the mission’s field, but they are still needs nonetheless. Allow God to use you and to shift your perspective to see wherever you are as your mission field.
3. Think about what stands out about the trip.
During your debriefing period, take notice of what stands out to you about the trip. Maybe it was the relationships built. Maybe it was the children playing all around you. Or maybe you preached one night to the mission’s team and that experience was something you’ll never forget. More than likely, the experience that stands out to you the most tells you something about your strengths. If you enjoyed the relationships, you can know that it’s important for you to build similar relationships on the other side or to maintain the ones made on the trip! If you enjoyed the children, find a way to continue working with children! If you enjoyed speaking, maybe you can tap into this gift more and more upon your return! Choose to apply what you’ve learned about yourself after the trip has come to an end.
Your life may feel easier when you get back to regular life, but the work you did on the trip shouldn’t end when you get off the plane. It’s important to learn how to translate your experience and continue the mission God has called you to! We hope these tips will help you do just that!
A transformation after a missions trip, whether it be because of what you offered to others or experienced individually, will make re-entry back to your everyday life more difficult. Its as if you are stuck in the same life but are a completely different person. How do you navigate this? The blinders to poverty and cultural differences have been removed, and you cant go back to your regular life without addressing the changes.
You will typically experience four phases after a missions trip.
Phase 1: Debriefing
Its important to not jump straight back into your routine without debriefing your experiences on the mission field.
What experiences stand out?
What parts of your trip do you want to capture and remember?
Choose experiences that need further processing, and then dive into phase two.
Phase 2: Processing
There is a fine line between debriefing and processing. Processing is one step deeper. You can sit in a group and debrief an experience by talking about all the details, but to actually process something is to get to the root of the impact.
Why did those experiences stand out?
What have you learned about God?
Phase 3: Navigating
After processing the impact of your missions trip, the next part is figuring out how you will navigate your life with all the new knowledge! Cultural frustrations may set in, and youll find yourself frustrated that the people around you dont seem affected by whats happening in the world around them. Though you cant change everyone else, you CAN navigate how to move forward.
What does your new normal look like?
How do you want to impact the people around you based on your experience?
Phase 4: Action
This is the most important step to move forward! You can make progress internally, but one must take action! Some people choose to take action by ignoring what they experienced and getting on with their lives, but consider actively implementing changes. Allow your missions trip to help you live a life of active intention.
What change do you want to implement into your life?
What impact can you make as a result of your experience?
Allow yourself to go through each of the four stages as you reenter your new normal. Its okay to be impacted and allow yourself to live differently.
Do you have a different strategy for your re-entry process? Give us some pointers in the comments about your re-entry process following a missions trip.