There are important things that I can focus on as a missionary living by the support of others that I could never do if I was doing the same work, but subject to “market forces.”
Meaning I am able to do work that may not have an immediate return right away, but is still important to God’s Kingdom.
When a Western “market mentality” drives the mission enterprise, calling for the manifestation of its own definition of “productivity,” then certain aspects of God’s mission can be left unattended, understaffed, or unexplored.
This is a thought I had while doing research today. I was reading and translating the writing of a Thai leader and thinking about his insights. I was taking the time to compare his thoughts with other research I have read. I was also thinking through the experiences I had while doing ministry in Thailand. My desire is to take these thoughts and eventually put them into books that would be useful for English speakers serving in Thailand. All of it intangible work.
The book would be the product. But these kinds of books don’t materialize out of thin air. They take time.
Some people might say, “Well then it’s too hard. It will take too long, so just do something else.” The temptation is to do something that can show well, something that can get immediate results.
However, this is not always the best work. It is not always the work that really NEEDS to be done. I have seen many missionaries go to another culture to do a certain work, but because of external pressures from their sending culture they shift their focus to something where they can have something tangible to show in a shorter amount of time.
I have nothing against business practices. I guess I am asking for more nuance and thought when it comes to evaluating missions work.
One way to do that is to know the person well who is doing the work.
Are they someone that goes well beyond what is expected? Are they known for being diligent in their work? Are they self regulated and self motivated?
If so, give them time and space to produce the art that only they can produce. If they are this kind of person, they probably have a half dozen other plates spinning at the same time too.