Sticking it out on the field – II

Not your mission, but God’sWe are on God’s errand. In fact, it would be great if all missionaries across the world would wake up in the morning and say this simple line to themselves: I am here on God’s mission; it is not my mission, but His. This realization puts everything in the right perspective and takes away a lot of pressure. It is God’s work. We can’t make people to give money so we can go to the field; we can’t make anybody utter a single well meant prayer related to the ministry. We cannot

make anybody accept Jesus as his or her Saviour, or grow spiritually one inch. How often do I tend to forget this! How often do I think: I should do more of this or that, and then things would really change. God wants us to live in total dependence on Him. But the beautiful thing is: He does not want a passive attitude of dependence, but He wants us to express this dependence on Him through active prayer, and I marvel at this. He wants us to intercede for the church, for the people who don’t know Him, for the young believers, for holiness – and so doing, we yield our time to Him and expect things from Him and He allows us to be partners in His great ministry.

Humility So far this does not sound too bad. But Jesus said: take up your cross. Lose your life, and you will find it. Do not look for honour, but forego it. Do not look for your own life, but be willing to pour it out. And very soon on this road you will meet the challenge that is called humility. The lack of it in your own life will likely hit you squarely in the face, unless you come to the field as a very mature Christian. When arriving on the mission field, you will be plunged right back at where you were as a toddler. You have no language at your disposal and are a total novice to the local culture. It is enough to make the most self assured person feeling rattled at times.

You will look up to the local people for wisdom when it comes to culture and language. And make no mistake: as a missionary, you are in an ideal position to make bloopers of a most embarrassing nature. The only way not to feel crushed by them, is to laugh heartily at yourself and at the awkward situation you have landed yourself in.But once you get your feet in you will be challenged at a deeper level. (I can only speak for the ministry of church planting, as that is what I have been doing for the past ten years.) Unlike a pastor, you won’t be building up your own position in leadership but you will be constantly on the lookout for people with leadership capabilities to take over from you, because you want an indigineous church come into being, which involves local leadership.

The thing with humility is that you cannot make it happen in your life, because when you will consciously focus on it you will most likely fall into the pitfall of pride (wow, am I being humble; I am doing a great job). Humility can grow when we are NOT working on it, and it comes as a byproduct when we spend a lot of time in God’s presence, giving Him all the credit for what happens around us and in us. Pride is a lurking sin, waiting to control us; it has consumed many a church leader and rendered him ineffective and unholy. Actively resisting pride (as opposed to the impossibility of actively nursing humility) can be and should be exercised by the missionary or church leader.

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