The Lord is stirring so many right now to go to the nations of the earth and preach the gospel. Many, especially young people, are hearing the call to go to those who have never heard. I’m personally touched in this way, believing God’s plan is to mobilize the greatest mission thrust the earth has ever seen in this generation. This is the hour we will see a massive army of missionaries mobilized to the hardest and darkest parts of the earth for the glory of the Name of Jesus.
I was thinking if I were 20-ish and felt compelled to go to the nations I would like to know the most important things to sustain my heart on the field. It’s no secret that a large percentage of missionaries find themselves off the field within a very short period of time. I’d want to know the heart realities that sustain someone while they’re serving the Lord in a culturally unfamiliar and spiritually challenging location. Without getting into necessary natural issues like language training and dealing with culture shock(yes, it’s real), I want to offer you essential components that will sustain your heart in a missions context.
1) A Clear Calling From the Lord – I fully believe the Scripture is our most important voice of calling. I also agree that seeing the need is evidence of the calling. At the same time I’m painfully aware of many who have gone who were never sent and ended up in shipwreck as a result. For this reason it’s necessary that you are convinced of the Lord’s leading in your life as you go to the mission field. Because of the difficulties you are guaranteed to face, there will be a time when you will wonder if you should’ve even gone. When that happens you need to reflect on what the Lord did in your heart to confirm the calling. There’s not one specific way the Lord leads. Generally He does whatever is necessary for an individual to be able to follow Him in faith. The Great Commission should challenge every believer to consider if they are to go. Whatever the promises and activity of the Spirit is in your life, pay attention to it. Make a journal. Be patient to the point that you know you’d be disobedient if you stayed. When things get difficult you’ll have a history of God’s direction to review and anchor you to your assignment.
2) Intimacy with God – The reward of missions is not the impact you will make. The reward is that you obeyed the Lord from a heart of love. Most missionaries and those who send them only look for specific results and impact. When the results are not as they’d hoped they become discouraged. A vibrant prayer life is essential to move things in the Spirit to see an impact, but even more importantly, it’s ESSENTIAL in order to sustain your heart in challenging circumstances. The reward of any ministry is that you get to partner with God in it. He is the reward, not the souls you save, the size of your ministry sphere, or any impact you make. Those things are wonderful, but they are SECONDARY to the real reward…intimacy with Jesus. When you have intimacy with Jesus, you carry the reward on the inside. So whether or not your reach masses is not the issue. The issues is having a heart alive and moving in love with God.
3) Rich Biblical Conviction – Vibrant revelation in the Word is also absolutely essential. You must be continually nourished by the Scripture for your heart to be sustained. Furthermore, it’s necessary to be Biblically convicted of your calling. You must see it in the Word for you to have faith to accomplish it. Too often passionate people are shallow in the Scriptures and as a result they end up without an anchor in times of difficulty. The word of God is life to all who find them, a clear guide and governor for us. Don’t make the mistake of believing time spent preparing is time wasted. Time sharpening your sickle makes your time in the field much more effective. A rich life in the Word is critical.
4) A Commitment to Authenticity – Too often I have seen ministers and missionaries wilt under the pressure of their assignment because they are too proud to share with others their challenges. You cannot go alone and you are not made to be an island. Authenticity is required for any minister and especially for those called to the foreign field. Sharing your struggles with others is a sign of maturity. It is essential to have others who know the good, the bad and the ugly of your life. The temptation for a missionary is to only share the positive reports because of the pressure to produce results. Don’t give in to it. Be honest, open and share with your confidants the realities of your life. This will ultimately give you great strength.
These things all together will produce in you the necessary root system to cause you to persevere when times get tough. Every kingdom assignment is just that an assignment from the King. We don’t continue in it because the results meet our expectations. We continue in our assignment because the King has requested it. I pray that these truths strengthen you as you endeavor to follow the Lord’s leading in your assignment.
If you are stirred to go to the nations, I can help you get there. Ask me how. If you know a young person whose considering going, forward this post to them as an aide to help them make their decision.
What are some other critical heart realities for missionaries?