It’s all too easy to develop a “savior complex” when doing short-term ministry, which is why another goal of Baylor Missions is reciprocity. Our goal with discipline-specific trips is to create an experience where mutual transformation occurs—we are not going only to serve and transform the lives of others, we are going to be transformed. We hope through this trip format, students can humbly learn from other cultures as they share their knowledge, resources, and care.
Here’s a great example of reciprocity from Haiti Engineering trip leader Brian Thomas:
“One of our tasks was to build a large group of theft-resistant frames for mounting solar panels onto the roof of a hospital. This involved welding pieces of steel together as part of the process. One of our faculty leaders had some experience welding, and taught the students the basics. A few days later, we met a bi-vocational pastor named Benjamin who, in addition to preaching and singing, is an experienced welder! Pastor-welder Benjamin, as we liked to call him, was able to give us tips and pointers that greatly improved the speed and quality of our work. He joined us for the last two days of our trip and worked with us side-by-side. This showed us that even in the area of technical knowledge, where one might expect us to be the ‘experts’, we still had much to learn from those we came to serve.”
A big part of service is humility—the knowledge that we have much to learn from those we serve. Thomas’ example of working “side-by-side” with “Pastor-welder Benjamin” is a vivid image of the type of service Baylor Missions hopes students encounter. There is no hierarchy involved. We are all created equally in the image of God, and have much to learn from one another.
Has the “savior-complex” reared its ugly head in your life? How have you confronted your biases and practiced humility?