Missionary Work Is Nothing Special – part 12

So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’”

(NIV Luke 17:10)

Everything Jesus said is important. In each one of his sentences, there is so much teaching. He never said things lightly or in passing, and we should pay close attention to every word. Many missionaries think that their work is special. Missionary work is nothing special. They think that it takes a special kind of person to do it. Maybe, because you are told in the beginning how special your work is by the people who stayed home, you begin to believe it. It isn’t true. No one is special. We are all loved equally by God. Some just do more work than others, and it still does not make them special.

The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor.

(NIV 1 Corinthians 3:8)

Missionaries should not fall into the trap of comparing their work to that of other missionaries. Missionary work is the normal, ordinary thing that any Christian should do. It just seems special in a world where most Christians do not even lead others to Christ. By comparison, anyone going overseas or doing mission work in a dangerous situation would be considered special by those who do little for God’s kingdom.

You, “the missionary,” are not special. I know that you have been told that you are, probably by your supporters in the beginning. We need to analyze the teachings of Christ. The scriptures need to become a part of our lives, woven into the way we think until they transform the way we act. So, how do we combat missionary pride? It’s simple: don’t pay attention to yourself. Don’t let people puff you up with talk about being special.

I remember being at my home congregation when I was a new missionary. We were in a service, and the pastor began talking about a missionary named David. I thought he was talking about a missionary that our congregation supported in another country. I listened to him for a few minutes and thought nothing of all the compliments he was giving until I realized he was talking about me. Immediately the Holy Spirit said, “This is how you should react, as though it were someone else being talked about. All the glory goes to God because you know from where you have come.”

Missionary work is normal and ordinary and what all Christians should be doing

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.

(NIV Isaiah 64:6)

Romans 5:8 – But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (NIV)

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.

(NIV 1 Timothy 1:15)

We are sinners, saved by God’s mercy, grace, and self-sacrifice on the cross, and all the glory goes to him. There is nothing special about helping out until he returns for us.

All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”

(NIV Romans 3:12)

I remember the first person who discipled me in the ways and teachings of Christ. He was looked down upon by the religious people at our congregation because of his appearance, but he was truly a spiritual man. He brought the truth of these verses I am using in this article alive to me. Those foundations that he laid have guided me into a more mature Christian life. I still remember many things he taught me about vanity, materialism, and pride. I was going to say that those were foundations that led me into missions or to becoming a missionary.

When I hear the words, “missions,” and, “missionary,” they don’t make sense to me. I use them for the sake of writing this blog to make it more relevant to the reader, but obeying the great commission is simply the rational, reasonable, and normal thing to do as a follower of Christ. It is nothing special.

Just look for the most impacting thing you can do with your gifts and talents in a place where people do not have access to Christ. Will it be hard? Of course it will. You will have to learn to be resistant. Can anyone learn to be resistant? Almost everyone can learn to resist, adapt, and acclimate to another culture, language, and environment. You can do it. It all depends on how much you believe the New Testament and Christ’s teachings. You can say, well, there is a lot of darkness right here at home. It is not true. There are a lot of unsaved people here at home who have thousands and thousands of Christians and congregations available to them. Those Christians might not be living correctly anymore, but there is light all over the place. The people in your country of origin are just resisting it the light. And maybe for good reasons they do not see the body of Christ behaving like Christ.

Going into the dark corners of the world where there is no access to light is nothing special; it is obvious. It is urgent. If you read your Bible and open your eyes, you will see that it’s the only rational thing to do. Staying in a place that has all kinds of light is wrong on so many levels.

“Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.”

(NIV Mark 16:15)

The enemy wants Christians to think mission work is special and that it requires special people with a special calling so that the majority of us normal people will remain home, feeling so ordinary.

It is simply a matter of pride that missionaries think of themselves as special. It is even more prideful (false humility) that those staying home feel unworthy to be missionaries. It’s just pride all around. Don’t fall into this lie; just do the work and stop thinking about yourself and about who is getting the credit. The unreached people groups you go to are getting credit toward their eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. That’s what counts.

The enemy, who is the devil, has been duping the Christian body for centuries by making us believe that the ministers are more special and elevated. It has hindered the spread of Christ’s Gospel. Even today, they stand at the highest point of the church buildings with their long, flowing robes talking with spiritual accents. They are the modern-day Sanhedrin. We have made the minister special because of our pride. We have made the missionary special because of our pride. Therefore, today, much of this missionary thing is focused on the missionary or the sending structure and not on the mission field. We treat the missionary and missionary work as special, even when we don’t come out and say it. In the end, mission work out in the remote areas where it is dark and dirty is ordinary hard work that someone has to do. Will you be the one who goes and does it?

How to combat pride and arrogance:

1. Internalize the scriptures that talk about humility and who you really are in Christ. Many are in the section on Christian Leadership for Mission.

2. Don’t pay attention to yourself; pay attention to others.

3. Keep your mouth shut; most of our sinful pride comes out of our mouths.

4. Get off the show stage of personal social networks.

5. Stop taking pictures of yourself.

6. Stop looking in the mirror.

7. Get the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

8. Serve, doing menial tasks that get your hands dirty as much as you can.

9. Take instructions and do what you are told without arguing about it.

10. Think often about the humiliation of Christ before and during his crucifixion. Remember what he did for you.

A self-centered body sits and listens with arms folded every Sunday morning

The body of Christ has turned its focus on herself. Millions of people attend services every Sunday morning hearing messages directed at them. The preaching is for them, the teaching is for them, the music is for them. And they say, “I liked that church service” or “I enjoyed the pastors sermon this morning” as though all of this is for our good pleasure, or for our entertainment.

The self focused teaching is molding future generations of missionary candidates. Those in the local congregations model to the twelve thirteen and fourteen year olds this egocentric view of God and the Bible by not extending Christ outwardly.

Thousands in large cities right here are living in poverty, without homes or in neighborhoods where they are gunning down children in the streets. And they sit Sunday after Sunday with arms folded analyzing the sermons doctrine or enjoying the special music. No wonder the adolescents are not interested in Christ, much less his great commission.

No one is special. No work is special. There is a lot of work to do. He has commended this work to us. So if you want your young people to get involved ans you are not going to go to where they have no access to light, at least get out into your community and get your hands dirty. Many missionary candidates come from congregations active in taking the Gospel locally. They do not come from those with arms folded in Sunday after Sunday. This applies to local congregations in Nebraska as will as Nigeria and Nepal.