The reason I left you in Crete was that you might straighten out what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town. (Titus 1:5)

When my wife and I were approved for missionary service, we had to go through five weeks of missionary training. During this time, we were introduced to many topics, such as the theology of missions, the danger of being paternalistic, how to contextualize the gospel message, the importance of learning a language, and the methodology of cross-cultural evangelism. By the end of the five weeks my brain was filled to the max with missiological information. One of the most important lessons I learned during this period of training was that “missionaries need to leave when it is time for them to leave. If they stay too long they may actually hinder the growth and maturation of the church.”

After we arrived in Zimbabwe, we worked with Bob and Eva Cheney to plant a church in Khumalo North, a suburb of Bulawayo. After a while, we appointed Sonny Makusha to be the pastor. However, I soon noticed that Sonny was not taking initiative to lead. Any time a decision needed to be made he would come to me, asking what I wanted to do. We then decided that we needed to give Sonny “space” to lead, so we moved from Khumalo North to another suburb. Once we did this, Sonny’s leadership skills became more evident, and the church took on a more African flavor.

Don’t micromanage—allow people space to develop and use their skills.

Jim “Umf” Lo is a professor at Indiana Wesleyan University, cross-cultural leader, intercessor, and author of several books including Unholiness: Overcoming the Forces That Attack Your Soul (WPH).

© 2019 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission.