When I was a kid, I PRAYED God would never call me into ministry. A missionary, in my mind, was someone who exclusively shopped at goodwill, never got new clothes, and could never shower – because, of course, all missionaries lived on the plains of Africa, right?
Just the thought made me cringe. No new clothes? We have to play CARD games for fun?! I have to be homeschooled forever?
Now, let me ask YOU something:
What does the word “missionary” conjure up for you? Is it in a rural Amazon village where you have to wear grass skirts and dance for rain? Or, are you like my younger self, and only associate the word “missionary” with “Africa”?
What if being a missionary wasn’t a PLACE but a MINDSET?
This might not be a new idea for you. After all, Jesus commissioned His followers in Matthew 28:19 to “Go and make disciples of ALL nations.” Did you hear that? ALL nations. Not just Kenya or China or India. ALSO the United States. ALSO your city. ALSO your neighborhood.
So, this week, as your Hopers, we are answering the question “Are some missionaries better than others?”
I don’t really believe that it’s a simple yes or no answer, but I do have three thoughts that may help us better understand our call in the great commission.
- We all have a certain calling.
Every single one of you reading this was created with a unique fit and purpose in our world. (Read Psalm 139:13-14, 1 Peter 2:9, Psalm 119:73, 1 Corinthians 12:25-28 for more on this.) Even if we have a similar TYPE of calling, it will never look exactly the same as another.
Think about it: you and I are both called to be pastors. That’s the same type of calling, right? But, what church do YOU feel called to? What demographic? What population? How big? What denomination? Where? Chances are, your answers would look much differently than mine. The point is this: we are ALL called to be missionaries (see Matthew 28:19 again if you still need convincing). But where/how/whom I am called to minister (to) is going to look much different than yours.
- The goal for the body of Christ is unity.
It’s not an “us vs. them” thing- and it never should be. I get it, it’s easy to put your pastor or favorite missionary on a pedestal. I’ve done it time and time again. I look at certain authors or outspoken Christian leaders and think “Dang, how did they get there? How can my own ministry EVER compare to theirs?” The important thing to remember is to keep the main thing (Jesus) the main thing. When we start looking to the right or to the left at the other racers alongside us, we start to feel inadequate OR we start to feel high and mighty. The art of healthy comparison is tricky to master, and generally looking around to see how far ahead or behind you are only serves to bring animosity. We are asked time and time again in Scripture to be unified as believers. This means that ALL OF US need to keep our eyes ahead, not on those around us. We can be inspired by wild warriors of the faith, absolutely. But they are not the standard – Christ is. And we should never feel less than, because we are all running the same race.
- We are judged by our words and actions.
This is not all gloom and doom, but it does serve as a warning that we are held accountable for our actions. Not new news, BUT in ministry, we are given a higher accountability. James 3:1 reads “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” James isn’t saying this to scare Christ followers away from sharing the Good News. He is, however, asking us to give ourselves a heart check before prancing off to teach and preach. Our hearts need to be pure, and the only way for this to happen, is for us to continuously run back into the arms of the Father over and over and over again.
After all, it’s not about us or our abilities. Never was, and never will be.