How to be a bad mission trip teammate (and how to be a good one)
There are good mission trip teammates, and there are bad ones. But what are the differences between the two? How can you make sure that you're not one of the bad teammates? If you want to be a good mission trip teammate throughout your mission trip, there are four qualities that you need to embrace—and four qualities that you need to leave at home. Here they are:
1) Flexibility instead of obstinacy
A bad mission trip teammate gets frustrated easily when things don't go as planned. If a plane flight gets delayed, they throw a fit. If they don't have vegetarian options at dinner, they refuse to eat at all. A bad mission trip teammate is obstinate and stubborn.
On the other hand, a good mission trip teammate is flexible and understands that not everything will go as planned. A flexible teammate knows that they will be pushed out of their comfort zone during the trip, and they are willing to roll with the new experiences. If you want to be a good mission trip teammate, embrace flexibility.
2) Gratefulness instead of complaining
The meal cart is rolling down the isle during your eight-hour flight overseas. You've had your heart set on their chicken finger meal for half an hour. The flight attendant finally gets you to and says, “Unfortunately, we only have vegetarian lasagna left.” How do you respond?
Little situations like this can have a big impact on your team's overall culture. A bad mission trip teammate is constantly bringing down everyone around them with their complaining attitude. If you want to be a good mission trip teammate, do your best to practice gratefulness in every situation, even when things don't go exactly how you hope.
3) Encouragement instead of gossip
You might have a teammate or two who struggle throughout your mission trip. Maybe she misses home and is having a difficult time adjusting to the new culture. Maybe he's not doing a very good job painting the outside of the local schoolhouse.
Instead of snickering and laughing at him or her, a good teammate will reach out and offer to help. Encouraging a teammate who is facing a personal challenge—instead of gossiping about their problem behind their back—is what a good mission trip teammate does and goes a long way in maintaining a healthy team culture.
4) Kindness instead of sarcasm
The quickest way to be a bad teammate is to be sarcastic the whole time. Even one sarcastic comment can create tension and build barriers among teammates. You might be sarcastic with your friends and family at home. However, a new culture in a new country with new friends and new experiences is not the place for sarcasm.
With so many new elements coming together during a mission trip, a good teammate approaches everyone around him or her with kindness. Sarcasm is a difficult habit to break! But, replacing a sarcastic comment with a kind comment can be the difference between having a strong, bonded team and a divided team.
It's all about grace
A bad mission trip teammate can be summed up in one word: entitled. An entitled teammate thinks they deserve that chicken finger meal on the plane. They think they have the right to snicker at the teammate who's not doing a good job painting the schoolhouse.
On the other hand, a good mission trip teammate can be summed up with this word: gracious. A grace-filled person understands that flights get delayed, and that God is in control of the timing. They know that a sarcastic joke isn't worth possibly hurting someone's feelings.
If you want to be a good mission trip teammate, the most important thing you can do is embrace grace.
Written by CJ and Teri