Tuesday, March 11, 2008

What Motivates Someone To Be A Missionary?

I've often wondered why people become missionaries. What is it that prompts someone to leave the familiar, change their lives, learn languages, put up with inconveniences, and endure hardship?

I don't have the final answer, but I've asked some missionaries what moved them to do what they do. I am interested, in part, because understanding motivations will be the key to recruiting the next generation of cross-cultural ambassadors for Jesus. So, here are a few of my ideas about why people might choose to be missionaries:
  1. God told them to go. Almost everyone I talked with cited some sort of call of God on their life as formative in their decision to go on the mission field. Several didn't even know where they wanted to go, but that God wanted them to go.
  2. Expectation of a heightened walk with God. (i.e. – John Paton, Hudson Taylor, David Brainerd or Jim Elliot). Read one biography of the men listed above and you are ready to sign up. Read more than one and someone will have to restrain you from going because of the dynamic nature of their spiritual experience.
  3. Opportunity to invest your life in a way that will make a difference. I remember stories of missionaries who have gone for a variety of reasons, and God used them to open up entire countries to the gospel. Others left a legacy of hundreds of churches. Others have given their lives to fields that required sacrifice and their blood, sweat and tears won only a handful of converts in a hard field.
  4. Be part of the action. This is closely akin to #3. It’s more fruitful in some places than it is at home. There is more opportunity for service in places no one wants to go than there is at home. Missions offers opportunities to be in the fray where it may feel more like the sidelines at home.
  5. Love for a certain group of people motivates missionary service. Some missionaries speak of an overwhelming compassion for the plight of a certain people group. Others find themselves mysteriously drawn to the lifestyle in a culture not their own.
  6. Ability to relate unusually to a certain group of people. For some it is similar to #5. They have an unusual ability to identify needs and speak to spiritual issues in a group of people. This and #5 are often ways that the call of God (#1) looks to people when they are in the process of decision making.
I am hopeful that this will be a start to help someone think about giving their lives so that the nations might be glad (Psalm 68).

Sunday, March 02, 2008

A Grand Finale

Taylor played his final basketball game of his high school career. It was senior night where the parents walk out with the kids and are recognized. He sang the national anthem. The only downside was that they lost the game in overtime.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Middle Ground

Peter entered the courtyard of the chief priest expecting to stay close to Jesus. . . sort of. He didn't want to be too close, right by Jesus' side, but give him some credit, he didn't stay away like the rest of disciples.

He took the middle ground, the place that appeared safe. Close enough to count, far enough away to be safe. He couldn't forsake Jesus all the way, but he couldn't follow him all the way either.

An interesting thing happened to Peter in the middle ground. It happens to everyone. He was forced out of it. "You were with Jesus." Even on the middle ground you need to identify yourself. Peter couldn't appear neutral and have the satisfaction of following Jesus. It doesn't work that way. It didn't for him and it won't for us.

I am amazed at how often this is tried still. Even though it has always been unsuccessful. A high school student join her parents in church without much of a fuss, but is a totally different person on Friday night. The end for her will be the same as the end for Peter. This strategy leads to denying Jesus.

In Revelation, Jesus tells the church to be either hot or cold, but don't choose the lukewarm middle ground. The irony is that the middle ground appears safe, but it is the most dangerous. So, choose to be either hot or cold, go all the way in with Jesus or stay away, but don't settle for the courtyard and think you'll be safe. You will get called out. . . and it won't be pretty.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

He Went Away Sad. . .

This video reminds me of reading Jesus' encounter with a rich young man in Matthew 19. Tom, I'm sorry about the loss in the Superbowl last Sunday, but I hope it helps you figure this out!

Sunday, January 27, 2008