How can you know you might be a missionary in the making? Just like in other careers, there are certain predispositions that make you more or less fit to the work of a missionary. These are the first 10.
1. You relate very comfortably to the world. You’re not of it, but being in it doesn’t make you nervous. Going to a bar to do outreach? “No problem,” you say. You don’t cringe when the lost you are reaching out to speak roughly or inappropriately. If this is you, you share something with our Lord, and you are a missionary in the making.
2. You’re relevant. You know what’s important to the lost. You know what they’re suffering from, their worldview, their current preoccupations. They say the best preachers are those with a Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other. I don’t necessarily believe you have to read the paper every day, but do you get your audience? Are you an insider to them? If so, you’re on your way.
3. You’re a bit of a jack of all trades. You can lead, follow, do music, art, theater, academics… whatever. You have interests a mile wide. You could talk to a poet one minute and a video gamer the next. You converse with the musician, and later the mechanic, with equal interest in their lives and vocations. The more people groups and subcultures you can relate to, the better fit you are to serve as a missionary in a different culture.
4. You’re an even keel. Those who are easily affected by their emotions have a much harder time with change and culture shock. Steady people don’t suffer this. You take your thoughts and emotions captive to Christ. You don’t suffer from homesickness and you don’t let nostalgia cripple you. You take those captive to Christ for his kingdom.
5. You spend serious time with unbelievers at least a few times a month. Not in school, not at work, but in your free time -like Jesus. Most believers prefer their safe Christian bubble. You don’t. That’s why you might be a missionary in the making.
6. You have a heart for the lost. Think of the famous anecdote about D.L. Moody and what he saw when he looked out his window. You see dead souls walking, needing a savior.
7. That heart for the lost manifests itself in actions. You start evangelism groups, homeless outreach groups, and service groups. You go on mission trips and help whenever you can. If you’re bothered by the lack of outreach to the lost, you might be called to be a missionary.
8. You love the unlovable. This one’s hard for me. Many people on the missions path, I’ve noticed, are better and more loving with those people that require extra grace. If you love the unlovable, you could be a missionary in the making.
9. You love languages and learning in general. You wouldn’t mind doing higher education. Missionaries are normally intellectually curious. I’ve seldom met a missionary that was closed to the idea of doing more schooling. Missionaries, and those called to the vocation normally have redeeming hobbies that feed the mind, like literature, poetry, music composition, story-telling, art, etc. These as opposed to more passive hobbies like television, video games, and excessive social networking.
10. You’re good with travel. I didn’t say you love it. You can be a missionary if you absolutely love travel, but I’d examine your motives very closely. I’ve often seen the “tourist” missionary who’s in it for the adventure, not the work, and they’re not able to stay put anywhere. A good missionary does well with the stresses of travel, but does not hold it as an idol. If this is true for you, you might be a missionary in the making.
Now don’t be discouraged if all of these don’t fit you! In fact, most people don’t have all of them when they start full time ministry. These are qualities that are grown on the job as well. If 6 to 8 of these can apply to you, and if most resonated with you and motivated you, I encourage you to continue seeking out your calling.
More to come soon!