Thinking of Full-Time Missions? Consider this….
Frequently, we try to reduce travel experiences, career plans, and life choices to the fewest words possible. This is true for missions as well. Often we are asked what is the one piece of advice we would give to those who are considering missions as a full-time opportunity. The concept of missions comprises many facets and dimensions, and reducing it to one plain statement oversimplifies the complexities involved. However, years ago, one man shared a simple piece of advice with me that is noteworthy for any person considering the mission field. That piece of advice was simply this: “If there is anything else that you can see yourself joyfully doing for a career, consider that first”.
Such a comment not only seems negative, but may be viewed as minimizing the importance of missions. However, this string of words carries the weight of both accountability and conviction that are meant to cause potential missionaries to think long and hard about the responsibility they are considering. Such advice is not meant to disuade all those considering missions, but instead to ensure that one’s heart is fully committed and aligned to the work of the Lord.
The work of a missionary is no small task. It requires strength, understanding, and support both physically and spiritually. One can be certain that being placed on the mission field will cause character strengths given by the Lord to be stressed and tested to the ultimate strain while character deficiencies will be amplified to their maximum levels. Securing one’s commitment to this laborious work is critical.
Considering first other career choices that may provide great joy while utilizing God’s gifting in your life is meant to examine personal commitment. Why place so much emphasis this? Because it helps protect from two possible reactions on the field. The first is protection against the propensity to turn away and return when ministry is difficult. When ministry becomes challenging, burdensome, and demanding, the weight of responsibility can cause many to question their roles and create a desire to turn away. If one already has hidden aspirations in other career fields, demanding situations can serve as an excuse to leave behind ministry at crucial times.
The second reaction that potential missionaries would do well to guard against is the propensity towards half-hearted engagement. If ambitions of fulfillment lie elsewhere, it can result in half-hearted engagement on the mission field. To be very straightforward, the Lord does not need any more half-hearted missionaries, but instead needs those who are fully committed to the work that is laid before him or her by the Lord. Apart from the Lord, the lost already exist in a desperate condition: the need for a Savior who can provide liberation from sin and reconciliation to God. Therefore, to be half-heartedly engaged can be more detrimental than profitable to the ministry and to the glory of God.
It is the Lord who calls. If the Lord calls then, one can have assurance the Lord also equips. Therefore, if the Lord is calling you to serve him as a missionary, this is not meant to dissuade you from that calling. Instead, it is meant to assure you of your calling.
Robert Zink, BMW Missionary to Argentina