Frodo Baggins, the Ring bearer from the Lord of the Rings is a great example to the modern missionary. He set out to accomplish a mission that would bring him in grave, mortal danger. He needed to make a journey that was very, very unpleasant. But he went anyway, because it was for the greater good that this Ring would be destroyed. That’s why the Lord of the Rings is such a hugely popular story; it tugs at our hearts, because we long for something that gives purpose and meaning to our lives that goes beyond our own selves. Well, in the Kingdom of God we get to be part of a mission that very surely goes beyond the scope of our own interests, is for the good of others and ultimately for God’s glory.
Indispensible for sticking it out on the mission field is this Frodo-like willingness to be sent on a mission that is greater than ourselves. And here is something that is becoming harder and harder to find in our Western culture. We are all fixated on our own individual selves and increasingly becoming better at that. Our sense of happiness is now defined by the gratifying of desires and having pleasurable experiences, but this focus on the self leaves behind an emptiness. (For a deep analysis of this inability to find real happiness, read The God Question by J.P. Moreland, a Christian philosopher from the United States.) Your mission should be clearly defined, like Frodo’s. It is very hard to stay enthusiastic and committed when it is unclear to what you are committed. What is your role? What must be accomplished? Too many missionaries are swimming in circles, barely keeping their heads up and never getting anywhere. Of course it takes time to figure out how to do things and one must be willing to adapt one’s mission, vision and strategy if that is needed. But it is important to never loose sight of the real job (whatever that may be in your particular case) and not get sidetracked. Don’t wait too long with starting ministry, but start with whatever skills you have, however limited they are – and look out for nationals to help you!