By Marsha Relyea Miles
(From our series “The Best or Worst Advice I’ve Ever Received.”)
One of the best pieces of advice I ever received came from Walter Birney, longtime coordinator for the National Missionary Convention (now known as the International Conference on Missions). During the year I served as president of the NMC (2007), many people contacted me with creative suggestions about how they thought the convention should unfold. Of course, in designing such a convention, broad involvement and teamwork is a great thing. The ideas of some folks were extremely insightful, but some others, less so! Now and then, I would get an e-mail suggesting something that was not at all in sync with the overall planning for that year’s convention.
I mentioned this to Walter. He acknowledged that while we need to handle every interaction diplomatically, it is NOT necessary or helpful to explain the reasoning behind every decision, or to invite extensive dialogue. He advised me to send a very short e-mail, and simply say, “Thank you for your input.” Then, he said, step back and pray about the idea, and decide what you believe you should do, and do that.
Walter is a genius, really! Since that time there have been many delicate situations in which I have implemented this respectful, handy approach.
Marsha Relyea Miles is a Bible translator with Pioneer Bible Translators.