Too many first term workers resign and go away bitter toward their fellow-workers or mission boards. One interviewer made the following observations after interviews with twelve first term missionary couples who had recently resigned:

For all the emphasis upon external conditions, organizational changes, lack of leadership, theological variations and sending council deficiencies, very few missionaries with problems are looking within themselves for the cause or perceiving themselves to be potentially part of the problem.

Specifically, there is evident very little humility, especially as each seems to consider himself the final authority on what should or should not be done or as each seems to make little attempt to see his opponent’s view in its best light or his own view in an objective light. Tensions are as great between missionaries as between missionaries and the church. Very little grace or trust is evident.

In some cases there was little or no evidence of an understanding of the Biblical principles of authority, submission, discipling, being responsible to another person and of working joyfully and selflessly with others, even those with less or different understanding of truth.

Resentment, guilt and anxiety are frequently evident, as well as rationalization and the covering of real unresolved spiritual issues. Self-concern is often more evident than total commitment to Christ. “How does it affect me?” seems to take precedence over “How does it affect what God is doing here?”

Is it surprising that these negative traits are the same ones mentioned earlier as consequences of excessive stress and damaged self-esteem? The workers interviewed above are employing defense mechanisms to keep their island of self-esteem afloat. If it sinks, then for them, life has no meaning: no reason for continued existence. When the raison d’etre of a person is threatened with extinction, a hostile reaction can be expected toward whatever is perceived to be the cause. The person believes that admitting that the cause lies within himself would mean that he has no worth whatsoever. That conclusion is wholly unacceptable if there is to be continued survival.

Myron Loss, Culture Shock