Opportunities as the Executive Director
James B. Moellendick Executive Director
Union Mission of Parkersburg

For the sake of this thought pattern let us confine our thinking to four areas. First with his staff, secondly the Mission's clientele, thirdly the Board of Directors and lastly the general and specific public.

The overall Mission program loans itself very well to the development of staff personality. Perhaps in no other field do you find the range of human behavior so great as in Rescue. This is a most fertile field for observation and learning. A well equipped and knowledgeable Executive Director will use this tool in upgrading his present staff. He will build upon the premise that God has not only sent the transient, the man or woman off the street, or unfortunate child to the mission to be loved and pitied but to teach the staff of the greatness of God's grace in not allowing us to fall this low and/or that we are alone kept by the power of God.

The ever close proximity of the staff in relation to the place of work and the hours of labor dictate that the Executive Director be vigilant in a program of self-help development with each staff member. It is his occasion to see that the entire staff understands the mission's policies and practices and are working in harmony with them. It falls upon him to validate, to the staff, why such a line is followed. It does not fall upon him to demand that there never be a difference of opinion.

Regularity is important in meeting with the staff. There should be staff meetings at stated times as well as single appointments with each member.

P.S. Some have "grown" their own staff over a long period of time and often these type of people are invaluable because of their deep devotion to the cause.

It is not uncommon for an Executive Director (superintendent) to be praised to heaven by one of the "men" under the "influence". He is assured that he is the best mission man in the whole world. And there are times when this could literally be true as it is related to the life of the man. Indeed the agency head is cast in a vital role of being the personification of all that is moral and religious to the clientele. It goes without saying that this can work to both an advantage as well as a disadvantage.

The fact before us is that the executive Director is, to many, the one man who can reach out and show to those who use the mission's services and facilities that Christ is a reality in human life. This factor be&s weight to the credence of the Christian life being all that we say it is by both deed and word.

The role assumed here increases in its impact as the Executive Director matures by age, experience and daily fellowship with Christ. He is privileged to exercise love while being firm, yet kind. His patience is increased while he is yet able to say no, when a "no" is for the best interest.

Uppermost in the mind of the Executive Director should be the realization that "the mission is not his but is the responsibility of the Board of Directors. With this basic principle as a spring board he should constantly endeavor to get as many of his directors involved actively in the working elements of the organization as possible. This involvement is at times cumbersome and slow, but vital. This process of operation keeps interest high and provides for each member of the Board the knowledge that he is considered important and not just a "yes" man. Too, by this means of involvement a program can be created jointly and it thus becomes the Mission's program and not just the Executive Director's.

Often the Executive Director finds that he is in a position to extend spiritual help to a board member that a pastor could not. This is so by the very position he occupies. He is faced with the chance of personality development too, for the local mission can serve as an on-the-job training experience for those who are board members. The Executive Director's leadership in this relation can be invaluable.

As a reminder, - the Executive Director is the paid servant and leader (in balance) of the Board and his responsibilities to the Board and the agency's total program should be clearly defined for the sake of harmony, progress, and for the benefit of those seeking help, and for the glory of God.

The general public is caught up in a maze of causes in this day. Increasingly the Executive Director must play the role of interpreter. IJke it or not, the agency must be kept in front of the people and no one can better do this than he, for his opportunities are more numerous. Avenues of public acquaintance to the work are everywhere, i.e. churches, civic groups and clubs, industrialists, professional people, radio, television, newspapers, house organs and so forth. To many people the Executive Director is the "Mission". Even you have heard it said, "why he is the mission". This being true, and in many cases it virtually is, the opportunity of making the mission known, is wherever the Executive Director is to be found.

There is a truism that says that water can rise no higher than its source. It is equally true that the spkitual climate of the mission will be no different than that of its superintendent. (The exception could well prove the rule). Too, every mission finds that it could improve its sp~tuality. The improvement and broadening of the sp~tual life of any mission is within the prerogative of the superintendent. He must keep it meaningtul, forceful, and evident. The latter must not be a parade of religionism or a holier-than-thou matter.

Often the superintendent fmds himself in the position of not being entitled to mistakes and error of judgment. He is supposed to be, to some, someone supernatural. Thus, if he maintains a proper perspective, he is driven to humbleness before God and a deepening dependence upon Him.

 

The avenues of spiritual leadership are limited only by our own dulled sense of advantages. These are to be found in the pulpit, in the office, in staff meetings, in prayer periods. Bible study, conversations, counseling sessions, hospital visitations, and even finerals are means of leading out unto a spiritual concept. In this regard each is able to add his concept of advantages and opportunities.

It is not an absolute necessity that one must be theologically trained to be a spiritual leader. This kind of a knowledge is no guarantee that one is spiritual. Throughout church history there are examples of those who sat alone at the feet of their God and were taught of the Holy Spirit. These often led and taught where others could not. The opportunity for spiritual leadership is more often, than not, found by those who, like Mary "have chosen the better part." These do not tag themselves but rather by precept and example lead, and in turn are sought Out for help and advice.

Image of the Mission in Eye of the Public

Basically it is very possible that our image is as many sided as the number of interest groups that know the local mission. For example: (1) We are a soul saving station to the Fishermen's club. (2) We are a cheap hotel facility to the merchant around the corner. (3) We are a soup-kitchen to the man who is being panhandled, and who will refer the panhandler to us. (4) We are a strange hard-to-understand organization to the highly schooled welfare worker from the state agency.

The conception we desire to put across is not always the one that succeeds. Our image, by the very nature of our organization, is easily misconstrued.

The Superintendent is in a unique position, inasmuch as he is often the personification of all that the mission is, to those who know him. It is his position that puts upon him the responsibility of mirroring what the mission really is in the life of the community. Others will help to paint this picture, to be sure, but their revealing of the likeness will not be as pertinent as will his.

This concept is seen in such incidences as a telephone caller who just must talk to the superintendent when any number of the staff could answer and supply him with the information being sought. The head man must be reached, you see, for he has the authoritative answer, - he is the "mission

It would be well for every Mission Superintendent to determine, inasmuch as he can; what the image of the mission is. He then would find it possible to give this interpretation to the Board of Directors.

Next, he and the Board together could measure the strengths and weaknesses that are uncovered, and like Dr. William Paul used to say. "put the white elephants to work". That is, take the weaknesses into account (don't hide them or hide from them) and make such improvements, that in turn, will serve to under gird the total program. Too, every strength should be embellished and used. This can be done to the glory of God and the benefit of mankind.

It is aimost needless to say, but it is important to be reminded, that if any opportunity is to be used properly it must be laid hold upon now, engaged with whole-heartiness and considered as a trust, as well as a provision, from our Lord God. The man who builds a mission in his own strength is not the man who will succeed as "God's Man". The leader who drifts into laziness, or even into a status quo position, is really behind the door when opportunity passes by.

All things are from God's hand and we are to use His gifts to advance that part of the vineyard, given to us for tending, and not to build ourselves up in the eyes of men. Yes, the Mission Superintendent should be building a monument to Christ and not a temple that speaks of himself. Ecclesiastes 9:l0a


This article was adapted from a seminar given at the IUGM's Winona Lake Training Institute in 1958. It originally appeared in the book, The Executive Director, compiled by James Harriger and published by the International Union of Gospel Missions in 1988.

James B. (Jimmy) Moellendick went on to serve as Executive Director of the International Union of Gospel Missions.