Raise your hand if you have led something on the field. I’m guessing that 99% of you have your hand raised because it’s not uncommon that you became a team leader, or in charge of an outreach project, or helped train people in a skill at some point.
When I moved to the field, my teammate and I inherited running a small English library every Tuesday night. Truthfully, it was lovely, but I had not thought “run a lending library” would be part of my job when I moved to the field. Fast forward five years, and I was now on the national leadership team and needing to “make a budget” for my department. What? Make a budget? I definitely had not envisioned I would be in charge of budgeting, training, or leading a staff when I packed my bags for two years on the field.
Two years morphed and roles morphed, and I loved almost every thing about my life. But I know my story is not unique. You, too, have probably found yourself in charge of a home school co-op, leading a region, starting a business, or organizing people for an event. All of which are noble, but you probably didn’t know that life would meander (or make an abrupt right turn) onto these roads, so you hadn’t thought through or prepared to “lead.” And now you’re playing catch up.
That is why I am delighted for you to meet Bernie Anderson. For the next year, he will write a monthly blog post to equip you for whatever it is that the Lord has you leading. Today you’ll meet Bernie, and then look for him the third Thursday of each month. Without further ado, meet Bernie!
1. Bernie, welcome! Please share a bit about your or your family’s experience overseas.
Thank you so much, Amy — it’s a privilege to connect with you and your readers at GT! Our family has been following you since “The Messy Middle” days! It’s great to connect after all these years!
I’ve been through three distinct careers related to working in a cross-cultural context. Career #1 was as a pastor, mobilizer, and sender. I spent 13 years as senior pastor of a church just outside of Nashville, TN. We left in 2006 to spend the better part of the next decade living and working in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. That’s career #2. After full-time language and culture learning, we developed a community center for students, worked with leadership development, and helped start an international church. We loved our time there. Our Mongolian friends are a crucial part of our lives today. Because of a variety of issues, not the least of which being my wife facing some chronic health issues, we landed back in the US and settled in Greenville, SC, where I began career #3 as a regional director of development, raising major gifts for a large, international non-profit.
I guess what I’m doing now is actually career #4!
2. Wow! I love hearing about your journey and all of the careers. I think many of us can relate! Where are you now? What are you up to?
In 2018, I had an epiphany while traveling to Asia for work. It felt like coming home. I realized God has equipped and called me to serve people in the M community. This is what I want to spend the rest of my career doing. Today, I am a consultant with Growability® Consulting where I help leaders cultivate vision, rhythm, and community in their life and work.
3. Could you share a few examples of the different people you’ve worked with around the world?
It’s such a privilege to work with the people I do, Amy. My current set of clients are doing so many amazing things. I’m working with people who run anti-human trafficking ministries in Southeast Asia. BAM projects elsewhere that include things like large animal veterinarians, agricultural consultants, and digital commerce entrepreneurs. Development and poverty alleviation organizations from Kenya to Cambodia. It’s so much fun to help people who are already doing fantastic work to be more efficient, thus more effective.
4. What draws you to leadership development?
I want to give as many people as possible the opportunity to step up and make a difference. Most of the people I work with can run circles around me in their field — and I love that! What I’m most passionate about is helping leaders and future leaders to cultivate the practices that will sustain them over the long haul. I don’t know where this quote came from — but someone has said, “Society grows great when old men plant trees under whose shade they shall never sit.” Investing in the next generation of Christian leaders in Christian Great Commission is the most strategic way I can serve God’s Kingdom, as I see it.
Bernie, I speak for all of us when I say “Welcome to Global Trellis” and “Thank You.” We look forward to your posts!
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