The Business Secret Every Missionary Knows

VUCA environment
Following God into new situations and cultures will very likely catapult you into a VUCA environment. What does that mean for a missionary's journey? Photo by TEAM

“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” That’s the proverb we quote when it comes to making something good out of a bad situation — something sweet out of something sour.

But what about intentionally picking lemons so you can make lemonade?

Global corporations do that! The international market environment is described as volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA). In other words, it hands out lemons and demands leaders who can make lemonade.

What is a VUCA environment?

And it turns out that the best way to develop those demanded abilities is to work in a situation that demands those abilities.

Some large corporations are deliberately sending their “high-potential employees” into immersive training environments where they must cope with poor infrastructure, constrained resources, and a different pace for decision-making and productivity.

Coping with a VUCA environment gives workers the opportunity to develop resiliency, adaptability, simplicity and curiosity. They can develop stronger personalities, new ideas and greater self-understanding.

As Amanda MacArthur of PYXERA Global puts it, “Nothing replaces the development that comes from outside-the-box experiences and a change in environment.”[footnote]MacArthur, Amanda. “Beating VUCA’s Whiplash Factor.” Talent Development, June 2016.[/footnote]

What does this have to do with missions?

Following God wherever He leads in the world, raising funds for support and ministry, and then learning a new language and culture will very likely catapult you into a VUCA environment.

At TEAM’s pre-departure orientation for missionaries getting ready to deploy, we take some time to think about the journey of fundraising and preparing to leave their home, family and current jobs. We reflect on what parts of this journey might have been volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous.

We ask the question, “What is God developing in me through these experiences?”

We identify the “lemonade” we’ve made. We become more intentional about letting God develop character and capabilities through the experiences of raising support and preparing to move.

Here are the statements made by groups in our latest pre-departure orientation as they summarized the way God has worked in their lives this year:

  • We’ve learned to choose a posture of curiosity about what God is doing in the midst of an ambiguous situation.
  • We’ve developed contentment in the Lord amidst instability.
  • Even though all our lives are different, we’ve all seen how God provides in the same way. We’ve all seen how God is in control. So while our stories are different, all of us have seen God prove Himself faithfully in uncertain circumstances. He has grown us in adaptability and faith.
  • God is our provider, so we invest relationally in a community that creates our significance, identity and value in Christ.

Does any part of your life seem like a VUCA environment? What strengths is God developing in you through this?

Not everything about support-raising has to be volatile and unpredictable. Let us help you get organized with this helpful template!

Support Raising Excel Template


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About the author

Mary Beth Fussner

Mary Beth Fussner is program director for TEAM’s Learning and Development department. She finds joy in helping others grow and thrive as they fulfill God’s call to service. Her missionary experience includes theological education, missionary training and community outreach programs.


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