Having posted a list of Church Leadership Conferences early this week, we thought it appropriate to also share some thoughts on business travel. Our blog today comes from Matt McMaster, our Senior Professional Services Manager who has been with FellowshipOne since 2004. Matt travels the country helping churches implement our product in their ministry, so he is very familiar with the challenges Christians can face when on the road.
Shortly after graduating college I got my first job at a company called Verifone. It is one of those companies that you have seen before but never noticed. They make the credit card terminals that you use every time you go to McDonald’s. Come on admit it… you like McDonald’s and you eat there. We are all friends here. Anyway this job required quite a bit of travel.
At that point in my life I was married and had only one child. Our family of three lived closed to both my parents and my grandparents. One night during a family dinner, my father asked about the new job. More importantly, he wanted to know what I was doing in my off hours. I told him that basically I was going from work to the hotel and watching a lot of TV. That wasn’t enough information for him, so he continued to probe and ask questions like: Was I stopping by the hotel bar for a drink? His point was that while the individual experiences of traveling alone, drinking in moderation, and having little to no accountability, were all things I could handle; however, putting all of those “risk” factors together could spell disaster for my young family. That’s when my dad and I started to come up with a game plan.
My sense of security comes from not putting myself in dangerous situations on the road. I avoid dark alleys, I carry my keys in my hand with my finger on the panic button, I lock and double check the hotel room door, I never ever open the door to my hotel room if someone comes to the door, and I always check behind the curtains in the hotel room. Basically, be aware of your surroundings and don’t take unnecessary risks.
I also wanted to be proactively protective of my marriage. Ed Young the pastor of Fellowship Church said it best in a series titled Love Affair, the first thing you do to ensure that you will have an affair is to say, “It will never happen to me.” If you truly believe that you will never have an affair or do something stupid in a moment of weakness you are putting yourself and your marriage at risk. This article is not just about avoiding having an affair while traveling for work, there are lots of potential pit falls when on the road. Know your limits when it comes to drinking as well as the dangers of accessing pornography in all it’s various forms.
My plan has always been simple, idle hands are the devil’s playground. So I keep busy. Since I am traveling to different places all the time I like to go for a drive in the evenings, always mindful to keep my personal safety in the forefront on my mind and actions. On a recent trip to Tennessee the church leaders mentioned that they had a camp just 30 miles south of the church in the Smokey Mountains. So with some simple provisions and a fully charged GPS, I headed out and also found an amazing state park called The Old Stone Fort. I had a terrific hike, found a beautiful waterfall, and spent 30 minutes talking to God. Experiencing a part of the country I haven’t seen before is a great way to spend the idle downtime that inevitably comes with solo business travel.
If a long drive and hike in the country is not readily available at my travel destination, I’ll find a local movie theater. My new favorite way to enjoy dinner alone is going to a dine-in theater. Or another option I have discovered is exploring a local grocery store. The people watching is always entertaining and the food selections are often different from back home. I find that I can easy spend an hour walking up and down the aisles looking for something to build my hotel picnic dinner. Recently I’ve enjoyed trying some strange and often stinky cheeses for dinner.
The point is: Have a plan. Best wishes for safe travels!