So you know you’re called to missions. You’ve gone on a few mission trips, or maybe you’ve simply heard about what God is doing around the world and become convinced that He’s put long-term ministry to the least-served places on your heart. And if you’re like me, you’ve maybe discovered something else: not everyone is as excited about your call as you are.
By all means, seek out advice from spiritual leaders, parents, mentors. Most importantly, pray. But don’t be discouraged if not everyone is on board. Check out our tips for handling some common objections.
1. What about your own backyard?
“People here need Jesus, too!” Someone may be passionate about ministry locally and have no heart for global missions. Some advice? Take a breath and pray for patience. You have conviction of the Lord to serve overseas. You have that truth in your heart. Don’t allow the enemy to use one person’s objection to discourage you, make you angry, or plant a seed of bitterness in your heart. It’s not worth a broken relationship or the damage to your own heart.
Hear people out and let them know that you value their opinions. But don’t be afraid to confidently convey what the Lord has put on your heart. And if they still don’t understand, don’t argue! If they need conviction, that’s the Holy Spirit’s job.
2. Did God really tell you that?
I’ve gotten this one before. Not trying to be antagonizing over here – but how would they know? They’re not God, and they probably aren’t eavesdropping on your prayer times!
That’s where the importance of relationship with Jesus comes in. Don’t be afraid to let someone’s challenge drive you to the Lord for further guidance and confirmation. And if there’s truth in what that person has to say, humble yourself and talk it out. But don’t allow their doubt to become your doubt. If you know that the Lord is calling you to missions, embrace that with confidence.
3. What about the money?
Let’s face it: the farther you go, the more that plane ticket is going to cost. It’s natural that someone who cares about you might question whether it’s worth it, especially if they don’t recognize the importance of taking the Gospel somewhere outside your borders.
The money question is definitely a faith stretcher! But the fact is, if the Lord is calling you, you can count on his provision and blessing. And if people ask you if it’s worth it, lead them to Matthew 28:18-20 and Acts 1:8-9. We’ve been called to share Jesus with the world; some people are going to do that in their hometown and others are going to do so in another continent. Obeying Jesus is always worth it.
4. Why do you have to go?
Well-intentioned loved ones of would-be missionaries have echoed this refrain for centuries. Our friends and family want us to be safe, happy, and comfortable. Our parents want us to raise their grandchildren right down the street, not on the other side of the world. Pioneer missionary William Carey was famously told, “When God chooses to win the heathen, he will do it without your help!” Moses even questioned his own burning-bush commissioning, pleading, “Can’t you send somebody else?”
“It’s my call, and it’s yours.”
Hudson Taylor, a 19th-century missionary to China, put it this way: “The Great Commission is not an option to be considered; it is a command to be obeyed.” I know that this might push your buttons, and I understand that not everyone is called to pack up and move to Mongolia. I get it, I really do. But if we read our Bibles and see God’s story playing out through all of history, we have to come to the conclusion that each one of us has been called to share Jesus. It’s not the job of some super-spiritual Christians. It’s my call, and it’s yours.
5. What about college?
If you know much about us, you’ve heard about YWAM’s Discipleship Training School. The DTS is just one of many programs out there that offer training and missionary experience. Prospective students can face objections to attending DTS right after high school because it seems like they’re skipping college. But taking some time for training and zeroing in on God’s call on your life doesn’t necessarily mean that further education is isn’t off the table. In fact, studies show that students who take a “gap year” return to school with greater motivation and focus. No matter what, time spent seeking the Lord and serving him wherever he sends you is always time well spent.
Keep in mind that grandparents, teachers, parents, and friends are probably asking the questions they’re asking because they want what’s best for you. The older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve realized that the saying is true: “Everyone has a plan for your life.” Don’t resent the prodding of people who are close to you, even if it feels like they’re trying to run your life. Listen to their wisdom and learn from their life experience. But don’t let other people’s expectations be what ultimately shapes the trajectory of your life. God’s wisdom and God’s care for you far exceed anyone else’s. If he’s calling you to do something that veers from the norm, trust him. It’s going to be good.
Here’s the deal: not everyone is going to agree with your decision to be a missionary. Some may not respect your sense of calling, and that’s hard. But what matters is that you’re actively seeking the Lord and walking in obedience to him. It’s worth it to follow Jesus, even when you face objections like these. He’s going to stick with you. The path he leads you down may be lonely, but you will never be alone.