26 April, 2013

Let's review your life

Our mission organisation is not like a regular employer. One indicator of this is the two year review process we go through. I imagine that some employers do personnel reviews, but I'm pretty sure they aren't as thorough as what we do.
Reviewing my life in this broad way can feel like trying
to accurately describe a scene from far above with
broad generalisations.

Here are just some of the questions we have to answer:
What regular exercise to you take?
Do you have a day of rest each week?
What do you do to maintain your spiritual health?
In what ways has the Lord blessed you since your last two year review?
Here is a list of emotions (13 of them). From this list choose the emotions that have characterised your life since your last review. Feel free to add any that aren't listed.
What subjects have you thought about or studied since your last review?
In what ways has your marriage been under stress since your last review?
What are your challenges and encouragements concerning your children's education?
What encouragements have you experienced in your relationships with your family at home (meaning your home country)?
Describe significant friendships in your life since your last review.
How is your financial support? (I've paraphrased for brevity, but the question requires a percentage answer)
It goes on to ask about your language ability, your ministry, your relationship with your colleagues and supervisors, your goals for the future, your relationship with your home church, home assignment plans, relationship with the mission, retirement plans (for those over 55) etc.

Very thorough!!!
Why reviews are really good


  • make you think about your life
  • help you count your blessings from God
  • motivating, eg. you know that you'll be asked about exercise, so you are more likely to exercise etc.
  • help pick up trouble areas
  • give you an outlet to talk about concerns in your life that may not be urgent or at the front of your thinking, but lurk there anyway
  • force you to think about what's happened and what's coming up
  • may highlight an area in your life that you've been neglecting
  • make you accountable, in a broad way

Why I struggle with them

  • I struggle with the broad generalisations. How can I accurately describe two years' worth of emotions in one broad stroke?
  • It is very thorough and I don't necessarily feel like being so thorough in thinking through my life (even though it is clearly necessary).
  • it depends on who is doing the review with you. You fill out this form, then sit down with someone to do an interview. I've had good and not-so-good interviews. A comment an interviewer wrote on the very first review I ever did still haunts me on bad days.
  • this time we don't have to do the language questions (we've been here long enough), but I always feel insecure in this area anyway. My Japanese level isn't what I, or OMF would ideally like. 
  • when my main role was as a mum at home with my kids, I felt somewhat judged by the process, as if my role wasn't as important as ministry (a high-up leader assured me this wasn't the case)
  • I believe the review process is changing so we have to set goals for ourselves. I'm not a big goal-setting person, so I know that if this is true, I'm not going to enjoy that either.
So, I've given you some insight into the internal workings of a mission and what we missionaries have to do. Have you ever done such a holistic review of your life? How did you feel about it?


Deb said...

Hmmmm, I am sure there wasn't a review as thorough as this when my folks were in OMF way back when. It's great that there is pastoral care of this nature. I suspect though, knowing my parents personalities, they would have found it also a bit on the intrusive side. I'd find it hard not to become a bit cynical about it after a while - but that's just my sinful nature coming out, I'm sure!

OliveTree said...

This is great food for thought. They ask some great questions, but I can understand your reservations and share some of them! :-) We just changed organizations, and our new group does quarterly evaluation, where they encourage you to revisit your goals and assess how you're doing.

KarenKTeachCamb said...

Thanks for sharing this Wendy. One of the disadvatages of working overseas without the backing of a mission organisation is that no-one really does this for your, or even encourages you to do it yourself. Your post reminded me of my Queensland Health days when we had annual "performance appraisals", which were also an opportunity to set some goals for the future. As a teacher I do participate in professional development and am observed in my teaching practice by others, but my personal life is pretty much my own. This has given me some food for thought as to what I can do to implement something like this without it being "just another thing I HAVE to do". Great post.

Wendy said...

Karen, would you be interested in seeing all the questions on our review form? I could send them to you, if you wish.

Wendy said...

Olive, quarterly reviews sounds quite intense too.

Deb, I don't get too cynical because I remember an Australian missionary who committed suicide (not a missionary to Japan) and wonder how his depression got missed. Missionaries are often under a lot of stress: it is necessary however uncomfortable it may be.