Preparing for BAM: 15 skills we recommend

One of the questions that I get asked all of the time is: “How can I best prepare for a life in Business as Mission?

The question usually comes from someone still in college or perhaps someone just starting to consider a future in BAM. They realize that they have some time before they will head overseas, so they are looking for ways to get ready.

As I have considered this question, I have come up with a number of areas that you can focus on as you prepare for a future life in BAM.

My top recommendation

Unfortunately, my number one recommendation is not something you can easily learn. Actually, it is probably something that you developed or did not develop when you were fairly young. What is it?

Having a good work ethic…being willing to work hard.

Why is that so important to me? Why, when you ask me what I would like to see in a new BAM recruit or BAM employee or intern…would I say, “someone who is willing to work hard” as my top recommendation?

Well, if someone has a good work ethic, then they will work hard at their job, at language learning, and at most other parts of life.

I believe you can teach most skills like teaching, tourism, sales or… whatever. But it is much more difficult (and sometimes feels impossible) to teach a new person how to work hard.

Learning to work hard once a new person is on the field is possible, but strong leadership and lots of accountability will be needed.

If you are considering BAM and want to prepare, ask yourself if you have a strong work ethic. Humbly ask for input from those around you and, before God – ask Him to search your heart.  Maybe for a week, log how you spend your time each day to give yourself a clearer picture. Be honest! And take heart – God is still in the business of transforming people.  He can change the apathetic lazy into ALIVE with Christ workers. But this will not happen without resolve and God’s transforming power.

Your university degree

My first suggestion is really for those who have not yet finished university. I would highly recommend getting your degree in a practical skill. What do I mean?

Often those feeling “called into missions” want to study missiology or intercultural studies. These are super valuable for the mission aspect of your calling, however, when looking into BAM, you need a way to stay in the country. You need a skill.

I would definitely recommend minoring in Bible or intercultural studies, but major in teaching, business, nursing, medical, graphic design, etc. I would recommend that you choose a major that you enjoy and can see yourself working in.

If you already have completed university and don’t have a “practical” skill, then I would recommend getting a CELTA teaching certificate OR taking some online classes to get a certificate in some business specialty like marketing or social media.

Soft Skills

Another great thing to focus on before heading into a life of BAM would be to improve your soft skills. Here is a list of 6 soft skills that you might want to work on:

  • Clear communication: Can you effectively get your ideas across to others?
  • Listening well: Do you know how to actively listen to catch the real meaning behind what is being said or communicated?
  • Conflict resolution: Are you equipped to deal with conflict as it arises in your business?
  • Asking questions: This skill can be useful for sales, team work & almost every part of life.
  • Confident decision making: Are you able and willing to make decisions when needed?
  • Taking responsibility: Develop your ability to be trusted to oversee & complete projects.

Technical Skills

There are some technical skills that you might want to tackle as well. This list is important for those who are looking to start their own business. When you look at through this list, you might think it is pretty basic. I would recommend learning a few of the more complex skills from the list below.

  • Word processing:  Make sure that you know how to format documents and understand how to make appealing layouts.
  • Spreadsheets: Try to learn & understand some of the key formulas for spreadsheets.
  • Presentations: Learn how to quickly and efficiently make professional presentations.
  • WordPress: Learn the basic skills required to update and manage a WordPress website.

Business Skills

If you are going to start your own business or join an existing business, I would highly recommend doing some training in the following areas:

  • Basic bookkeeping – make sure you know how to keep track of basic finances.
  • Basic marketing – learn the foundational principles of marketing. This will help any business!
  • Basic graphic design – you don’t need to be an expert, but get some training on design OR purchase the professional version of
  • Sales – understand the basic techniques & key pieces of the sales process.

Preparing for a life in BAM can be daunting and confusing but also exciting!  Consider these recommendations to develop your character and your education.  Train yourself on some of these practical technical and business skills.  You’ll find the preparation ahead of time will be invaluable as you launch into a new country, culture and ministry.

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