Should I be a missionary? Where did that idea come from? I know that the church should make disciples of all nations, but what does that mean for me personally? How do I discern whether long-term, cross-cultural service is the right direction for me?
This is the first in a series of tips that have been helpful for me in shepherding people through this decision.
Let’s begin with how we make decisions as believers. How do we discern God’s will for us? Although the Bible gives much direction (e.g. don’t steal, don’t lie, love one another, etc.), it is not comprehensive for every situation (e.g. Should I move to another city? Should I become a cross-cultural worker?).
These decisions involve use of wisdom and are best made in community. Below are some scriptural insights on getting counsel:
- Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed. Prov. 15:22
- Plans are established by counsel; by wise guidance wage war. Prov. 20:18
- Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. Heb. 13:17
- While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. Acts 13:2-3
It is best to get counsel from a variety of people. Don’t “poison the well” by picking people who aren’t usually objective. For example, it is unhelpful to pick people to help you make this decision if they are known for either always encouraging people to become missionaries or always discouraging people from becoming missionaries. Pick people who are discerning, objective, and honest. Pick at least one person from each of the following categories. Go ahead… write their names down on a list:
- someone who knows you well and is a truth speaker (rather than a positive speaker).
- someone who has experience as a cross-cultural minister, who has been a missionary
- someone who is wise in making decisions in general
- someone in authority over you (pastor, parents, etc.)
- someone who knows the sending agency or target culture that you are considering
- someone who has had a similar job assignment as the one that you are considering
- In what ways is this assignment a match for me; in what ways is it not a match?
- What do you think are the personal qualities that are necessary to be effective in this assignment? How can I tell if I have them?
- Do you think it is likely that I would be effective in this assignment? Why or why not?
- What are some cautions that you have for me regarding this assignment?
- What are some key criteria that you think I should consider when making this decision?
The key is being open and honest. Get your heart into a place where you can accept any input. If you dismiss input that goes against your desires and only consider input that affirms them, then don’t bother with getting counsel; you’ve already made your decision. However, remember that making it without FIRST getting wise counsel is a recipe for making a foolish decision.
What are additional ideas to consider when getting wise counsel?
Other posts in this series: