Christian Life Coaching Bookstore

Missionary Debriefing – Part II by Tim Olson

May 3rd, 2010 | By | Category: Missions Coaching - Guest Posts

This series of four articles is based on a Mission Coaches Network teleconference with guest speaker Ruth Maxwell. Ruth is a career missionary with SIM and has served in Liberia, Kenya, Canada, and presently, in South Africa. Ruth coaches extensively both within the mission and through outreach programs in South Africa.  She is a strong advocate and skilled practitioner of debriefing.

In Part 1 of this series we identified what a missionary might need or be looking for through debriefing. In Part II, we ask the question of where does debriefing fit – when do they need it.

Here are some ideas:

  • Introducing newcomers to the field
  • On a regular basis – in the midst of activities as well as later
  • Point of transition and in anticipation of transition – any change
  • Losses and grief
  • Trauma and crisis
  • Organizational trust issues – communication/change
  • Team problems
  • Ministry challenges
  • Normal developmental challenges for individuals/family life

It is obvious from this list that debriefing is not just for returning missionaries as suggested in Part I. It is a valuable tool for anyone to use in evaluating what has happened, what is going on now and how to move on in appropriate and intentional ways.

The missionary often experiences events that we might not consider “normal”; for instance:  war, riots, terrorist activities, evacuation, illness epidemics, natural disasters, communication problems, poverty, isolation, cultural difficulties, cross-cultural adjustment, hostage taking, etc.

Debriefing ought to be a normal, regular event in anyone’s life especially for the end-of-term needs and traumatic issues.

Debriefing, therefore, is helpful for those in the full range of emotional or physical signs of need from the healthy, well-adjusted person chomping at the bit for the next assignment, to those with signs of depression, chronic fatigue and other symptoms.

What might be the benefits in your own personal and work life if you could regularly debrief conversations, tasks, projects, and experiences?  How can you make this part of your own growth and development?


Located in New Hope, Minnesota, Tim Olson has his own business as a personal life coach after years as a pastor, teacher, school principal, business owner and missionary. In addition, he serves as a leadership coach for the National Fathering Ministry staff both in the US and in Ukraine. He is also a presenter for, helping corporations reduce turnover and keep their best people through identifying employee’s passions for work and applying them to their current jobs. Tim received his training in the Christian track of Institute for Life Coach Training and co-founded Mission Coaches Network. For more, see

Tags: , , , , ,


Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.