As a missionary living in Europe, I am overwhelmed at times by how urgently more workers are needed to share the good news of Jesus Christ on this continent. In many European cities, there are so few committed followers of Christ that many people can live their whole lives without really knowing one.
In light of this situation, raising up a new generation of missionaries is a high priority to me. And it was to Jesus too, who taught us to “pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:38).
Our frequent response
But as I’ve shared this perspective over the years, I’ve observed that it sometimes produces a level of discomfort among my non-missionary friends: a creeping sense of fear and perhaps even guilt. Fear that God might call them overseas; guilt that they’d rather not go. This fear and guilt can lead to preferring to avoid the subject of missions mobilization altogether.
But I’m convinced that this fear is unnecessary and that most of the time this guilt is actually “false”. Why? Since God only calls a small percentage of His children to serve overseas, it is likely that you are not one of them! So any “guilt” you feel is more likely to be coming from the flesh or the devil than the Lord Himself.
The enemy’s scheme
Does it seem counterintuitive that the enemy might attack us with guilt over the whole idea of “missions”? Personally, I don’t think so. We know that he is the “accuser of our brothers and sisters” (Revelation 12:10). I believe he will use any tactic, including fear and false guilt, to distract us from what God cares about most – discipleship.
God’s better plan
We were saved to be disciples (devoted followers) of our Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:19). As His disciples, God’s passion is to make us more and more like Jesus (Romans 8:29). Our Heavenly Father is committed to forming Christ’s character in each one of His children for as long as we live (Philippians 1:6). So, job #1 for us as His children is to respond with trust and cooperate fully with what His Spirit is doing in us.
Friend, are you holding back from fully surrendering to your Heavenly’s Father loving desire for you? If so, the Holy Spirit will kindly bring authentic conviction into your heart to woo you back onto the path of discipleship and life. For when God fully has our hearts, He has us. And when He has us, we are ready to follow Him wherever He leads. That’s why discipleship and not missions is always His first call in our lives.
So the next time you hear of an urgent need for missionaries, don’t allow fear or guilt to cause you to turn away. Instead, may I encourage you to use it as a prompt to ask God, “Father, do You have my heart?” This turns false guilt into a true opportunity.