My TE: Beyond the Technical

I have had the privilege of experiencing two JAARS Technical Evaluations (TE). Although that may sound strange, I consider it a privilege because of the personal and spiritual growth that has occurred as a result.

The two TEs were as different as night and day for many reasons, but the main reason was the difference in the state of my heart and trust in the Lord. I hope others will learn from my experiences—both failure and success—as they see what worked and what didn’t work for me. My greatest lesson was learning to commit the TE to the Lord and to trust that he has the power and authority to direct me however he deems best. May the advice given below be helpful to you, and may God be glorified through your journey ahead.

Trust the mission organization.

  • They want you! The TE is not a wash-out program. Relax and show them what you can do.
  • They have decades of experience and know what it takes to be a missionary pilot.
  • Follow the specific recommendations they give you to prepare for your TE.

Technical preparation

  • Share questions and concerns with your mission organization. They want you to succeed as much as you do and will direct you toward the training you need.
  • Get high-quality training that focuses on fundamental visual flying, decision making, emergencies, and non-electronic navigation.
  • Get both maintenance and flight experience. Don’t just stick with what you’re good at—get experience in both areas.
  • Complete a maintenance and flight consultation. The input received from consults will assist in determining your readiness for a TE.
  • Seek an internship with the mission organization. It’s a great way to get to know the organization. You’ll meet great people and gain valuable experience.
  • Complete purposeful maintenance and flight training within a month of the TE—such as a TE prep course.

Spiritual preparation

  • “In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps (Proverbs 16:9).” You can’t rush God. So, don’t even try. It’s good to have goals and a plan but give control to God. He will not let you go until you are ready and everything is in place. Be patient and trust him.
  • “Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him (Psalm 37:3–7a).” It’s not about airplanes or shiny tools. It’s about serving God and making him known. Be humble and hold your plans with open hands. He knows what he is doing and it takes time to get everything in just the right place. Trust in his timing and commit your way to him.
  • “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you (1 Peter 5:6–7).” Don’t worry and stress out! God loves you and wants what is best for you. Give the TE to him, and let him carry the burden and stress. Focus on what is before you and glorify him through it. Do your best, and let God do the rest.
  • “Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.’ (Lamentations 3:22–24).” Be content with whatever happens. Look at the TE as God’s direction. If you fail, praise the Lord. He’s showing you areas where you need growth. If you pass, praise the Lord. He’s showing you that you are ready for the next step.

How do you know if you’re ready?

  • You have confidence in your knowledge and skills—the consults will help with this.
  • You have completed all the recommended preparation.
  • You see God at work, preparing the way.
  • You have peace and surrender in your heart.

TE tips

  • Don’t listen too intently to the experiences of others. Each person is different: different strengths, different weaknesses, and often different learning styles. Banking on the advice of someone else’s experience will only add unnecessary stress to yours.
  • Don’t fear the unknown. Trust your training. Trust God.
    Just be yourself and do what you have been trained to do. The TE staff want to see how you think through different situations.
  • Be ready to learn. Ask questions.
  • You will make mistakes! Don’t beat yourself up or dwell on them. Learn from them and move on.
  • Self-assess. Debrief yourself: what went well, what didn’t, how can you improve? Write notes and review them before every flight. This will allow you to step back and see your performance as a whole. If you notice an issue recurring on every flight, be determined to fix it during the next flight.
  • Relax, be flexible, be adaptable, be assertive, be the pilot-in-command.
  • Failure can lead to later success.

TE 1—Fear

  • My focus was all on myself and pressure to please others—supporters, school, students, family, JAARS.
  • I was afraid of failing and of what would happen afterward.
  • I was scared of how I would perform because I had not completed all of the preparation recommended by JAARS.
  • I was afraid to ask questions for fear of disclosing what I did not know.
  • I was scared of the Helio—I had never flown a high-performance tailwheel.
  • My mind, thoughts, and actions were all distracted by my fear because I did not lay them before the Lord. I was relying on my own strength.

TE 2—Surrender

  • I focused on God’s promise that whatever happens is in his hands. I believed God would use the TE to give me direction, no matter the outcome.
  • I aimed to please God (not others) and to glorify him through my performance.
  • I sought after God’s peace and relinquished my stress, burdens, and worry into his hands.
  • I completed purposeful TE preparation and let God take care of the things beyond my control. As opportunities came about (or were closed), I saw them as God’s hand leading me to learn or experience what I needed to.
  • I sought to immerse the TE in prayer. Literally, hundreds of people were praying for us. I sent out a prayer calendar with specific things to pray for each day, and it was evident God was at work and answering those prayers.
  • I sought to have a willing, obedient, servant heart ready to glorify God with each new day and each task given.

Experiencing these two TEs taught me some valuable, life-changing lessons. After my failure, I was bitterly angry with God. Yet, he remained faithful. He showed me my selfish pride and revealed the true state of my heart. Despite my anger, he loved me enough to discipline me, help me regain my focus, and restore my trust in him. God saw deep into my heart and reminded me of what life is all about—to glorify God. It doesn’t matter what you do, who you are, where you’ve been, or even what your skill set is. What does matter is that God has your whole heart and you trust him enough to serve him with all that you are.

So as you prepare for your TE, or anything else in life, remember God does not send the equipped, he equips the sent. Trust in the Lord and his leading. He will equip you with just what you need—nothing more and nothing less. He is sovereign and will direct the timing of when and where you need to go. All God wants is a willing, obedient heart committed to him. Be humble, be willing, be obedient, trust, and have faith. He is all you need!

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, and not for man. For you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving (Colossians 3:23–24).”