If You Want to Be a Missionary Get Ready to Be a Slave – part 2

If a missionary has a calling to anything, that calling is to slavery. If you want to be the first person to bring the Gospel message to a remote unreached people group, you must become a slave.

“Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

(NIV Matthew 20:26-28)

There are not a lot of people who want to do missionary work. However, if you are one of the few, you need to learn to serve. Being a missionary is the biggest, smallest thing you can do, and it is the most special normal thing you can do. There is no higher, lower calling in the world than being a missionary (the slave), but in order to get to this high place, this level 10, and in order to get to your remote unreached people group, you must be the lowest and the last of them all. You must become the slave of them all. This verse says, “and whoever wants to be first must be your slave.” This lowering of yourself and sacrifice of any normal place in society allows you to be the first to bring the Gospel to somewhere it has never been heard before. The higher you want to be in the Jesus realm, the lower you are in the material realm. If you want to rise to this role, you must learn to be low. If you have not read the series on Christian Leadership for Missions stop here, read those twenty-five articles, and return to this one. It will help you be able to go on with the most difficult teaching on the Missiology of Christ.

“When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, he told them a parable. 8 “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; 9 and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, ‘Give this person your place,’ and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place. 10 But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. 11 For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

(NRSV Luke 14:7-11)

Jesus says that if you want to be exalted, you need to be humble. If you want to be first, you must be a slave. Missionaries are first. They are the first ones to arrive in remote unreached people groups. They are the first to take the Gospel, the first ones to learn their language, the first ones to translate and write down and record the scriptures. It is interesting, the way that Jesus put this. His disciples were angry that he told the two sons of Zebedee that the places by his side were not to be determined by himself. This leads us to believe that the disciples had already thought among themselves who would be at Jesus’ side. He knew what they were thinking. He knew that they were angry.

“Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him. 21 “What is it you want?” he asked. She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.” 22 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?” “We can,” they answered. 23 Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.” 24 When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers.”

(NIV Matthew 20:20-24)

When I was a new believer, I attended the youth meeting for the first time. There were about a hundred and twenty people there, and when the meeting was over everyone was enjoying fellowship, and one person started folding the chairs. I decided to help him fold chairs, and instantly, my first ministry was born. To this day, I will fold chairs after the church service is over. My ministry grew, and now, whenever I enter a room and see disorder, chairs out of place, trash on the floor, I straighten up. If you want to be a missionary sent by your church to the other side of the world, but you cannot fold chairs here on this side of the world, you won’t be going anywhere. God will prohibit you from going. You need to know that God is very involved in this missionary endeavor. You cannot say that you are not cut out to be a servant. Being a servant (or slave) is learned and is required for being a missionary. You ARE called to serve. Ask God to teach you and then start looking for all the work that no one else wants to do. Serving is the number-one highest priority in all missionary training because it is the number one highest priority in missionary work.

A few years ago, I went to a missionary meeting in another country. People were flying in from all over the continent. I was waiting with them at the airport to be taken to the hotel. I could see that they were particularly important by the way they carried themselves and by listening to what they talked about. We got on a shuttle and were on our way to the hotel and I kept listening to their conversations. They were talking about the important meetings they had recently been to in other parts of the world. There were about fifteen people on that shuttle, and all our luggage was stacked near the front of the vehicle by the door. When we arrived at the hotel, all the people got off and left their bags on the shuttle. No one from the hotel came out to get the bags and the chauffeur did not help carry them in. I thought to myself, “I don’t want to carry their bags; they will immediately think less of me. I’ll just get off the bus and go in with them. Let someone else carry my bags. For once, I am going to act important too.” Immediately, the Holy Spirit said, “No, you carry in all their bags,” so I carried everyone’s bags into the hotel. Many times, we think we are important, when in fact we are only servants of Christ, nothing more. We have been saved from the penalty of our sin by his grace, and he is the important one, not us. Do you want to be a missionary? Do you want to do great things? Do you want to be big in the Kingdom of God? Then get low. Get down on the ground, being the servant, and stop thinking about yourself and about what other people think about you.

Do you want to be first? Do you want to be a missionary who is the first to bring in the Gospel? Then be everyone’s slave. It means being small, insignificant, unknown. It will mean being a nobody here on earth. Take no thought about yourself. You will have no identity. You will have no rights. Your identity will be in Christ: not who YOU are in Christ but who CHRIST is in you. It is all about him, not about you. He is the king of glory. You are not. All glory goes to him. And you will glorify him every time you get low as the salve. You will be taking the Gospel of the king to places where there are no other missionaries, so you will be the first. This requires that you are a servant and a slave here and now, today! If you cannot be a servant and slave here, you will not be one among your remote unreached people group. Humble yourself so that he may lift you up and out into the remote darkest corners of the world. They have been waiting on missionary slaves who have come to serve and give their lives as a ransom for many. Do you see why Jesus said that it is so hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven? The rich want to be waited on, not to wait on others. Jesus did not choose very educated men. Much education will disqualify you from being a missionary. Soon after Jesus left the disciples, they were waiting on tables. They had no problem doing this lowly task.

You will be going far away (to a remote place) and will not have anyone to pat you on the back. Slaves are unnoticed. Once on the mission field, there will be no billboard with your name in lights, no music CDs portraying your picture taken using a fish-eye lens. You will be unrecognized, and if you ever go home, most people will not care about what you have done and all the things you have suffered. To get to this highest low place, you must first be the unknown forgotten slave. If you don’t feel a calling to slavery, consider this your call. The slave is ignored, beaten, and spat upon, the one treated badly when people are angry.

“Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.”

(NIV Luke 6:22)

The slave is the one abused, the one who does the dirtiest jobs, and the one who has no name. You will do well to avoid becoming a famous public figure before you rise to the low position of missionary. If you want to be a missionary because you think people will respect you or be in awe of you for it, you will eventually be extremely disappointed.

“For it seems to me that God has given the very last place to us apostles, like people condemned to die in public as a spectacle for the whole world of angels and of human beings. 10 For Christ’s sake we are fools; but you are wise in union with Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! We are despised, but you are honored! 11 To this very moment we go hungry and thirsty; we are clothed in rags; we are beaten; we wander from place to place; 12 we wear ourselves out with hard work. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure; 13 when we are insulted, we answer back with kind words. We are no more than this world’s garbage; we are the scum of the earth to this very moment!”

(Good News Translation 1 Corinthians 4:9-13)

Here is an apostle of Christ saying that it seems like God has put him in the very last place on earth. This is the perfect scripture for all the prosperity Gospel preachers. A servant comes near the master’s table and has nice clothes. Sometimes the servant is given a wage or has living quarters inside the masters’ home. A servant is talked to and treated fairly well. A slave is mistreated, lives outside with the animals, and is bought and sold. A slave is given no wage and has no name. Jesus was born in a manger. It was not a nice clean place like we see in a child’s school play. The ruler of the day tried to exterminate all first-born children to get to him. Before Jesus was walking, he was hunted down to be killed. When he finally entered his ministry as a young man, the religious figures who were his mentors despised him and plotted to take his life. The high position of missionary is given to the slaves, the rejected, and the ones who have kept their mouths shut while being insulted and condemned to death.

Leadership has nothing to do with being able to speak in public or control the masses. It has everything to do with being able to serve without recognition, entitlement, or embarrassment. I have been thinking a lot about leadership lately and trying to get a New Testament perspective. What I mean is that you need to read the New Testament over and over until you get a good grasp of its content. This takes a few years, depending on how much you read it. Once you have a handle on the content of the New Testament, then you can think about the concept of leadership and what it means. Leadership is mentioned a few times in the New Testament. I have heard the term servant leadership before. I don’t hear it much anymore, but it was popular a long time ago.

I get the impression that the apostles were leaders that did not think more highly of themselves than they should. They also were very subservient to Christ and considered themselves the indispensable parts of the body. They put themselves out on the front lines, in harm’s way, with no regard to their own lives. They gave it all and were very humble. They were the first. They were the slaves of all of us. Jesus was the slave for them and for all of humanity.

“Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one Teacher, the Christ. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

(NIV Matthew 23:10-12)

If you are given the small, unseen thing to do, do it, serve, and don’t complain. Be little, be invisible, be insignificant and GOD will then exalt you. Hey, there is nothing wrong with wanting to be first in God’s eyes. Do it for him and for his glory because of who he is and because of what he has done for you. Most are trying to get to be first the way the world does. You can push and shove and manipulate your way into that leadership position. It will soon come crashing down on you. Leadership is not gained by being better at the job than the other person. You will not make it one inch that way. Leadership is gained by being faithful in the small, unseen, insignificant things serving everyone along the way. One day, you will be the leader, and it will be clear that it was God’s doing. Also, you will know that being a leader does not mean that you no longer have to serve. Being a leader means that now you have to be the servant of all servants. God has his ways of doing things for a reason.

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!'”

(NIV Matthew 25:21)

One of the worst kinds of pride is pretending to be humble. False humility is when you put on the appearance of having humility. You are trying to be humble. You are being quiet and calm and trying to appear to serve when all along you are thinking of yourself. You want the leadership position more than you want to serve in the role that the position will provide for you. You think to yourself, “I am doing all this humbling of myself, and for what? No one is paying attention to me, no one is looking at what I’ve done.” One of the false religions teaches that true humility is self-forgetfulness. You serve and slave and give, and you are not even aware of yourself. You do it because it needs to be done. It is the thing at hand that no one else seems to see but you.

“Then they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” 34 But they were silent, for on the way they had argued with one another who was the greatest. 35 He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” 36 Then he took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”

(NRSV Mark 9:33-37)

If you want so badly to be a missionary, you probably need an attitude adjustment. You should want so badly that someone gets out there to finish the work. Missionaries evolve out of serving, serving, and more serving. You see the need, or hear of it somewhere, and say, “Wait a minute, I thought someone was doing something about that?” Then, after finding out that no one is doing anything, you go and do something about it. Being a number 10 missionary is just serving: it’s no great missionary call. It’s nothing special. It is just serving Christ in the most expedient thing. It’s doing the difficult work that no one else wants to do.