Wednesday, February 01, 2012
What’s it like to be a…..missionary—with an engineering background?
My job title is: Missionary
My actual position is:
Project manager / fundraiser / administrator / teacher
What does a normal day look like? Is it consistent throughout the year? If you’ve had this position for a while, how have things changed?
From the outside it might look like a desk job with lots of meetings, errands, and time doing strange things. While it is true that most of the work happens behind a desk or at a meeting table, the job is different every day. The goal is to make ministry happen as an engineering-type person. Some days the need is to prepare detailed plans, other days, detailed budgets. I might head out on some days to the projects or to the workshops or a training session. There are enough projects to work on that the ministry activities and special projects kind of average themselves out around the calendar. But the fall is generally the season for starting things and summer gets almost too hot to be outside. One big change over time has been a growing appreciation for the difficulty of doing international ministry. We deal with things the old-timers never considered – anti-terrorism laws, child protection policies, anti-money laundering systems, complex immigration laws, and other such things. Business and legal knowledge is a big part of ministry today.
What other, if any, positions have you held prior to your current job? How did you get to where you are now?
I have been a practicing hospital engineer, product designer, software engineer, business owner, and missionary field director. I got this position by trying to do the right thing when it was time to move on from the previous thing.
What kind of training/education did you have? What would you suggest? What qualifications/skills/attributes make someone successful in this position?
I have a Master’s Degree and a bit more in the field of Biomedical Engineering. I have tried to keep up with continuing education ever since. I wish I had studied a bit more economics, politics, and communication theory as they seem very relevant in today’s world. But I strongly suggest that people study what excites them. Project management requires the ability to see both big picture and details of the goal, plus the skills to keep people and things moving so that the goal is met.