10 Reasons Not To Become a Missionary

by Laura Parker on October 16, 2012

1. Don’t Become a Missionary if You Think You Are Going to Change the World. First, high expectations doom to disappoint, but, also, maybe your desire to change the world is trumping your desire to serve. Ask yourself if you would be happy moving overseas to a much harsher environment in order to quietly help a local, while getting no recognition and seeing no fruit in the process.  If you can answer honestly yes, then maybe you’re still in the running. {Don’t worry, we thought we would’ve answered yes, but found out that we really had some unhealthy saviour-complexes to begin with. You can read about that here: On Living a Good Story and Not Trying So Hard and The Guy in the Orange Shirt .}

2. Don’t Become a Missionary to Make Yourself Better. My first mission trip was as a middle schooler to Jamaica. I’m not really sure how much good we actually did, but I do remember one of the missionaries we worked with. His name was Craig, and he had some of the biggest glasses I’d ever seen. And the dude talked to everybody about Jesus. Everyone– the pot-smoking Rastafarian in the line, the tourists at the store, the check-out guy at the food stand. And I remember turning one time to another missionary who worked with him and asked what made him so “good” at evangelizing.  The older missionary said, “Craig?  Oh, he didn’t come to Jamaica and become like that. He was already like that in the States.”

And I think Craig with the big glasses dispels the lie that if you move overseas, then you will magically become a superhero Christian. Um, false. What you are here, you’ll be there. And while it’s true that the change of environment can spark growth, it doesn’t mean you’ll go from luke-warm average Christian to Rob-Bell-Cool-On-Fire-Mother-Theresa just because you suddenly find yourself on another continent. Pretty sure it doesn’t work that way.

3. Don’t Become a Missionary if You Think You Have the Answers and the Nationals Don’t. Westerners have clunky shoes.  This is just true. We are loud and obnoxious and, good Lord, arrogant. Our DNA has us descending on other cultures and dictating ways they can “fix” themselves, while throwing money at their problems. I think I’ve learned that every good missionary LISTENS, first. And listens, a lot. {Don’t worry, I suck at this still. You can read about that here, Rich Guy with the Crappy Car or Quiet Heroes.}

4. Don’t Become a Missionary if You Can’t Hack Transition. We’ve been overseas now for less than two years, and we have moved houses three times, taken two major trips, and have gotten close to and then had to say goodbye to over 15 good family friends. People come and go on the mission field. Terms are up and governments change the visa laws. You find a deal on a house or the house you are in has rats. When you sign up for missions, like it or not, realize it or not, you are signing up for a transient lifestyle. {On Moving House, Like A Lot and New Girl both speak to this reality.}

5. Don’t Become a Missionary if You Think You Are Really Pretty Great, Spiritually-Speaking. There’s nothing like moving to a foreign country to reveal all the crap that’s in your heart.  Seriously. I have cussed more, cried more, been more angry, had less faith, been more cynical and, generally speaking, have become in many ways a worser person during my last two years of serving in Asia. Call it culture-shock if you will, but I tend to think the stress of an overseas move thrusts the junk that was conveniently- covered before out into the blazing-hot-open.

6. Don’t Become a Missionary if You Think Living on Support is Cake. It might look easy, but it is most definitelynot– this monthly process of holding your breath and praying that you get a full paycheck , while knowing that even thatpaycheck is based on the kindness of your parents or your friends or the lady you know hardly has two pennies to rub together anyway. And then, when you do have a little money, you stress about how you should spend it —  Should I treat myself to a coffee? Do the kids really need to go to the pool today? Should I buy the more reliable scooter or the used one that will {probably?} be just fine?

And then, and then, shudder, there’s that awkward process of asking for it in the first place and feeling like you are annoying-the-heck out of the same people, who happen to be the only people you know  — like that pushy lady selling Tupperware down the street.

The whole thing might be great for your faith, but it can sure be a killer on your . . .  heart, finances, sense of self-worth, savings, relationships, budget, fun, and freedom.

7. Don’t Become a Missionary if You Aren’t Willing to Change. Flexibility is more important than I ever thought it would be in an overseas life. So is humility, actually. Unfortunately, neither of these qualities is naturally at the top of my Character-I.Q. However, I have learned that the more determined you are to stick to your original plan– regarding ministry or living situation or friendships or organizations or personal growth– the more painful it is when that plan changes, and change it most definitely will. It’s the ones who humbly hold things loosely that I think can go the distance with far less collateral damage.

8. Don’t Become a Missionary at the Last Minute, on a Spiritual-Whim, Spontaneously. And yes, my Charismatic friends may disagree a bit here, but moving overseas, especially with a family and especially in any kind of committed-capacity, is not something to be taken lightly. It’s not necessarily a move that should be felt at a tent-meeting on Friday and plane tickets bought for the the next Monday. Training is important. Spiritual, emotional and cultural preparation has immense value. Turning your heart to a new place often takes time to fully root. So, give it a little time. Don’t be afraid to put the brakes on a bit, and heaven’s sake, don’t think that you’re more godly if you decide, pack and go in record time. This is not the Olympics, and sloppy leaving can take more time to clean up than you realize.

9.  Don’t Become a Missionary to Fix Your Kids. Jerking a rebellious teenager from liberal American society and sticking them in an African hut so they can “find God,” is not a valid parenting technique. Family and personal problems will follow you overseas, in fact, they may be amplified. It’s important not to buy into the lie that forcing your kids to be missionaries will supernaturally make them love Jesus. That might happen, but moving a rebellious teen might also royally backfire on you, and should never, ever, ever be the primary reason a family takes up missions.

10. Don’t Become a Missionary to Find Cool Friends. Now, I’m not saying you won’t find amazing friends– maybe the best in your life– but there is no denying that the mission field can draw some pretty odd ducks. {Of which, I, of course, am not one. See #7 regarding my natural humility.} Don’t be surprised, though, if you find yourself in a church service with ladies wearing clothes from the 80?s singing praise songs from your middle-school years like Awesome God, but without even the drums. Don’t be surprised, too, if your social interactions are awkward at best with many of your fellow mission-souls. Living out the in jungles for twenty years might do wonders for your character and strength and important things, like, oh, the translation of the Bible into another language, but it can sure do a number on a person’s ability to shoot the breeze in a church lobby somewhere.

But, there, again, maybe there’s a necessary shifting that has to happen to your definition of cool, anyway.

– Revised and Extended from LauraParkerBlog‘s original list, posted Jan 2012

Laura Parker, former missionary in SE Asia.  Twitter:  @LauraParkerBlog   Ministry: The Exodus Road


What would you add to the list?  Bring it. Even if you are not a missionary, pretend and add to the list.

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About Laura Parker

Living on three continents and moving 15 times in 15 years of marriage, Laura is no stranger to transition. Recently living in SE Asia with her family, Laura now serves as the VP of a counter-trafficking organization which her husband began, The Exodus Road. Laura is the co-founder and editor here at A Life Overseas and writes at her blog, http://www.LauraParkerWrites.com.
  • Don’t become a missionary if you aren’t willing to hack creepy crawlies and all sorts of other freaky things sharing your home with you, if you are a germ-o-phobe (yesterday at the orphanage one little one pooped her pants then tried to hide it by scooting across the floor to the bathroom on her bottom, four other little ones followed her. The results were disastruous) or if you are not willing to hang out with the town drunk, the cleptomaniac old lady that no one else lets in their houses, and your bossy neighbor who comes over every day to show you how to clean your floors. Because for the first six months or so, they will likely be your only friends.

  • Tara Livesay

    Friend of mine pointed me your direction … I’m a reader – hooked. Thanks.

    t.r.l in Port au Prince, Haiti

    • You have an awesome blog, Tara! Thanks for joining the conversation.

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  • I guess I’d add, “Don’t become an missionary because you had a great time on your short-term trip.” While it’s possible to feel or confirm your calling on a STM trip (I did), it is also possible to confuse a calling with that wild high you get from seeing 17 trillion people step forward to receive the Lord and a free Bible, or the locals who rush to fawn over you for those two weeks you’re in their area. There is a HUGE difference in what you’ll experience on a short-term mission trip and what you’ll live out daily once you’re a resident. See #8.

    • YES! I TOTALLY agree! STM and long term missions are waaaaayyyy different. I feel like oftentimes our expectations during the first year get totally slammed because we assume setting up a life in a place will be as easy as visiting one.

      Thanks, Christie.

  • “Don’t be surprised, though, if you find yourself in a church service with ladies wearing clothes from the 80?s singing praise songs from your middle-school years like Awesome God, but without even the drums.”
    “Living out the in jungles for twenty years might do wonders for your character and strength and important things, like, oh, the translation of the Bible into another language, but it can sure do a number on a person’s ability to shoot the breeze in a church lobby somewhere.”

    I laughed so hard from the painful truth of it all there is now apple cider on my computer keys. 🙂

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  • Abby


  • Tammy Ogden

    I think these should all be included on the questionaire, just why do you want to be a missionary? with a yes or no check. lol!

  • Ronnie Herrera

    Asking permission to translate it into spanish, for my Dominiccan missionary students,

  • Marissa

    Good article, funny and true. I’d add don’t become a missionary if you’ve never done cross-cultural ministry in your host country. Also, if you can’t serve under the people you’re going to serve. Translation seeing them as equals.

  • Mimi Barker

    Oh dear. I think I recognize myself in #10. Not the “don’t be” part, but the illustration! I didn’t have any fashion sense back in my sending country either, and I love Awesome God. I also recognize myself in some of the other “don’t be” entries. I guess being in the business for over 25 years already doesn’t keep me immune to some of these even if they weren’t issues back when I was fresh out of college. I’m contemplating moving house again (this one has termites!) and cringing at the very idea. Thanks for writing this!

  • Kyle Fosse

    Don’t let the romance of a new place draw you into a long-term commitment, without the realisation that it WILL NOT always remain the exotic, beautiful place it immediately looks like.

  • Kyle Fosse

    Oh, and try learn the host country’s language BEFORE you go…

    • I completely agree, though it does depend on the language you are studying. If your UPG has a strange dialect, it is best to learn only the basics of the language before you go, then get into deep study WITH them, so you learn it the “right” way.

      Either way, you need to be absolutely committed to learning the language well. Some research points to that as one of the top reasons of ministry failure.

    • Erin

      Welp, so much for first-contact missionaries…

    • Greg Dill

      Disagree. If you try to learn the language BEFORE you go you will not get the right intonations, dialects, slang, and inflections. It is best to learn the language among the people with whom you are serving. Not only will you learn it better, but you will have earned the local’s respect for you. Besides, what you learn in the sending country may not in fact be right. Take it from someone who experienced this the hard way.

  • Mike James

    Why is it that the Church constantly tells me that I can change the world when it full well knows that I can’t?

    • Alice

      GOD can and will change the world through us if we serve faithfully, though we may not see miracles in our immediate vicinity. His Word never returns empty.

    • Jim

      I think the church has bought into this lie through American culture. We turn the lie, “You can do whatever you want if you put your mind to it,” into “You can change the world.” We want big changes, but, in my experience, God usually works very slowly.

  • Mercy Robinson


    I attend Dallas Baptist University and the link to this page was posted to facebook a couple times by two different people. Seeing the title, I hit it, because I am a missionary kid, born, raised and lived overseas for 17 years. I read and I agreed with it. Your name though…it looked so familiar. Your pictures, looked like they had been taken where I grew up…in Chiang Mai, Thailand. More specifically, that shoe picture looked like it was from the Night Bazzar. I hit one of your links and found myself on your personal page. Then it hit me. I know you. I know your kids. Your kids have played with my little sisters. You know my mom. I have heard you speak in chapel before co-op started every Monday. Thank you for this. Thank you for being willing to be honest and give us all a dose of reality on a commonly fantasized occupation.

  • marty reimer

    i appreciate these a lot. i would add, after 25 years here, that many of these do change for the way better with time, though def. not all.

  • I ticked a few. Should I go home now? :-/
    Great post! It is character building though and I wouldn’t change the last twelve years for anything.

  • Jorge

    Don´t Become a Missionary if you think that the only way to do it is by leaving your home country.

    • Thetravelingteam.org

      Jorge, that is so wrong. I love ya brother, but let me explain:
      Missions and church ministry/outreach are 2 different things. There 2.6 Billion unreached people in the world who will never meet a Christian. There are 2,500 languages without one verse in their language. You will NOT reach those people with the gospel from your own country.
      It is NOT missions to reach people at work, or start a neighborhood bible study. Creating disciples is the work of ALL believers. To leave your home and comfort to go to a foreign place to tell people about Jesus who would NEVER hear it unless you went, that’s Missions.
      If everything is missions, nothing is…

      • BrianJConsidine

        I agree wholeheartedly with Jorge. Notice that he didn’t say that you don’t need to leave home. The fact is mission in the 21st Century has a new and dynamic focus – diaspora missiology. Dr. Winter said some years ago, “Diaspora missiology may well be the most important and undigested reality in mission thinking today.” This past September, the USCWM held their annual International Society of Frontier Missiology conference and diaspora missiology was the focus. Next year the Missio Nexus conference is taking a diaspora mission focus. At the last Lausanne Conference in Capetown 2010, this global reality was captured by the statement that “Missions is now everywhere to everywhere.” The forces of globalization, urbanization and migration have changed our mission landscape. In fact, today, there are hundred of UPGs living in the USA – Muslims, Hinuds, Buddhists by the millions. While we don’t need to leave our home country to reach them, we do need to leave home because there is still a cultural distance to cross. They aren’t going to enter our churches. Today, to reach the nations can well mean going across the street or the other side of town. Yes, we need workers in the 10/40 Window, in closed countries, in unengaged places our our world. But those workers may well come from returning nationals who came to the USA and encountered a Christian on mission. That’s not outreach because of the cultural distance needed to crossed – that’s mission to the nations among us. We must move beyond the idea that to be a missionary we must get on a plane and go somewhere. That’s 20th Century thinking. Welcome to the 21st Century. 🙂

      • Jimmy Shaw

        I understand Jorge and he is spot on because if you can’t share Jesus at home where you live well going to another country can’t change that! Also the world has come to America so there is a mission field with internationals and Americans there.

      • d gasawa

        There are 200 people groups and over 100 languages spoken in my city. According to Barna, only 1 in 11 people in this county have ever attended a religious service of any kind. That leaves over 10 MILLION people with no spiritual influence, Christian or otherwise. How is that not a mission field, Thetravelingteam.org?

      • The Traveling Team, it seems you need to deeply review your concept on ‘mission’. A feel sorry about that.

    • Thomas

      Jorge, thetravelingteam.com is so wrong. You are correct. If we self define missions and ministry we can say whatever we like. By the definition of missions that this article is uses I would be a missionary, but my wife who is in the same ministry as me would not be.

      • Thomas

        Sorry, typo, I meant thetravelingteam.org.

    • Dave

      I agree with Thetravelingteam. Its not to say that being an evangelist and minister in your own country are less than being overseas…its just different. Frankly it undervalues the lives that missionaries live to call every functioning Christian a missionary. Its different jobs, different lives, different job titles! I honour pastors and evangelists and folks in all types of service for the work that they do, and the calling that they follow…but being a missionary is a different thing. Trust me, I know, I’ve been a pastor in my own country and now I’m a missionary overseas…totally different, equal, but different

    • Thomas Depner

      I think it comes down to the definition of Missionary. Charles Spurgeon said, “Every Christian is either a missionary or an impostor.” The word Missionary is not in the Bible. For me it describes a person who is a carrier of the Gospel News with the purpose of pointing others to Christ. That should be all of us Christians. 1 Pet 2:9 says, ‘But you are a special people, a holy nation, priests and kings, a people given up completely to God, so that you may make clear the virtues of him who took you out of the dark into the light of heaven.’ The reason we are saved is, SO THAT we make clear to others who God is and to give testimony of how he saved us. This should be our passion in our home country as well as oversees.

  • Makena

    And also, don’t become a missionary if you can’t handle taking a shower with a cup and a bucket/gallon of
    water. And if you can’t sleep without air conditioner. Don’t even think about it if you can’t stand the smell of needy people that smell because they usually don’t take shower (Because they may not have water available).

    • Oaxacamama

      I wouldn’t be so quick to add this one, because God can change your heart and make you willing to accept what is not optional. I hate the heat and I am super sensitive to smells, but here I am 27 years after signing up for this crazy life of things I am not crazy about.

  • Lulu Stuart

    Truly enjoyed this blog. Sitting on a chair recuperating from surgery that I had in a developing country a week ago, only reminds me of how different life was 4 years ago before I came here. I trusted God for the outcome of the surgery, the finances and the simple life He has provided for us. The procedure cost me $200 and at home it would have been over $15,000. I love my life as a missionary along with my husband. He still struggles with the language, I don’t as it is my first tongue. Dreaming vs Reality on becoming a missionary has its way to reveal itself in a few months, the beauty, you can always resign and go home to whatever reality you had before, but I guarantee you, you will be dreaming again on that field far away!

  • Claîre Wagner

    Well said, plus the comments added below! Thanks!

    One thing I would share is that, even after being definitely “called” to serve overseas, then coming home to continue serving in my home country, there were things over there and here that I could not have learned or seen coming that have rearranged my character and my heart completely. I needed to go to not only see and take part in that other culture, but for God to be able to do a lot of transformation in my life and re-direct me while there! Didn’t see that coming at all! 🙂
    Been home for a couple decades and no place is really home any more. Except for Heaven. And I have found such a delightful “home” feeling with other missionaries and expats who live HERE now, and even internationals from that other country now live in our metro area! What a gift!
    Just never know what God will do — and if He is calling you/me — we must do our best to be prepared to obey Him (as Pastor Chuck Smith would say). Be ready to serve HERE, or some THERE, and know that wherever we are, we are Jesus’ hands and feet to His people.

  • Heather

    In regards to #5, I certainly agree that living overseas can bring out the areas of our lives that are in desperate
    need of sanctification. But your comment “seriously, I have cussed more during the last two years of serving in Asia” really saddened me. I am hoping that by posting this…you are not trying to justify cussing because you are a missionary living in Asia. My heart is saddened when I interact with nationals in Asia and hear them cuss and find out they learned the foul language from another missionary.

    • I’ve heard this (serving overseas has caused them to swear much more) from several workers in Asia. I don’t see her trying to justify it here, but just expressing what has happened. It’s still not a good thing, but I’m glad she said it, considering the reaction most western churches have when someone lets a bad word slip.

    • Ely L.

      I believe it required humility in the part of Laura to honestly state that she did express those negative wrong heart attitude while serving in missions during the first couple of years. I guess her point there is it could happen while in missions. The good thing is she dealt with it by allowing God to work through her heart.

  • tkbeyond

    Excellent observations and right on target. Thanks for sharing this.

  • Francois

    I believe missionaries do change the world. One person at a time. And sometimes it can turn into many, many people over time, resulting in change in a home. That can result into change in a neighborhood, that can result into change in a city or town or village. That can affect other regions in a nation. And people from that nation can affect other nations. However, I totally agree that to do that, you definitely need to learn to serve and love people with external praise, rewards and fame, and that is quite a school of the Holy Spirit 🙂 Thanks for your thoughts!

    • Francois

      some typos here. Sorry. I meant to write: ” I totally agree that to do that, you definitely need to learn to serve and love people WITHOUT external praise…”

  • JJ Ferrier

    Awesome blog, Agree with a lot of what you said.
    One question regarding:
    “And while it’s true that the change of environment can spark growth, it doesn’t mean you’ll go from luke-warm average Christian to Rob-Bell-Cool-On-Fire-Mother-Theresa just because you suddenly find yourself on another continent”
    what is behind the analogy of turning into a “Rob Bell-cool-on fire-Mother Theresa”? If I’m not mistaken Rob Bell teaches a lot of false doctrines.

    • I saw those as two separate comparisons. “Rob-Bell-Cool” and “On-Fire-Mother-Theresa”. Because regardless of what Rob teaches, there was one point when most Evangelicals thought he was “cool”.

    • Greg Dill

      Rob Bell teaches a lot of stuff that people disagree with. But, he doesn’t teach false doctrine.

  • Julia Morgan

    Don’t become a missionary if you’re unwilling to learn another language. Everyone doesn’t speak English, nor should they be expected to.

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  • Missionary to Latin America

    I agree with you…but perhaps you should add, Don’t become a missionary if you aren’t willing to become friends with the locals. Based on this blog it sounds like most of the friendships missionaries should anticipate are with other missionaries. While we have some very good missionary friends, our focus has always been on getting to know the locals. They are the ones who became our best friends on the field.
    Good advice here.

  • Erin

    I disagree. Become a missionary if you feel the leading of the Holy Spirit. He can work on your pride, your fear, and any incompetencies you feel you have. If He calls you, He’ll equip you.

    I especially disagree with #1. “Expectations doom to disappoint.” If you place all of your hopes in Christ, even if it doesn’t look like you imagined it, He will exceed your expecations. And He can change the world.

    • Richelle Wright

      I think TIGHTLY held expectations do “doom to disappoint,” and I know that I tend to hold on to those dreams and expectations pretty tightly – especially when I feel like those initial visions of the future have been God directed. Yes, we will have expectations and Christ, in those expectations, is all sufficient. But just as He changes the world, He changes our directions, focus, us… The crux is the “if” you place all of your hopes in Christ… that’s a lot easier said than done for a lot of people. It is for me. Sometimes I’m clueless that I’m trusting myself or someone else rather than Him… I can’t escape from setting up expectations, but I try and hold those expectations loosely, willing to let go or sacrifice them as the Lord leads and reveals, because He is changing the world and by golly? Sometimes He works through mundane, fallen and feeble people just like me.

  • Drew Grateke

    I understand that the title of this post, as well as the tone with which it is written, is designed to jump off of the page by being edgy. But in doing so I feel like you have needlessly gone out of your way to discourage potential missionaries rather than addressing these important issues in a constructive way. I believe there is a way in which to draw awareness to these issues that causes a person to seek growth rather than causing them to throw in the towel because their motivations are wrong. I believe that romanticism, hope, and even idealism are actually important characteristics in the life of a missionary because they guard us from the all-too-common outcome of turning into a hardened, bitter missionary. Promoting realism in regards to the mission field is incredibly important, but it should never come at the expense of God-given passion and zeal (no matter how naive those things may seem). I am not disagreeing with anything that has been said here, but after reading this post and the comments below I found myself incredibly put off by the condescending tone with which these things have been addressed. As missionaries it seems so common that we pride ourselves in our realistic view of life on the mission field and we somehow feel entitled to belittle the misconceptions or the romanticism that guides those that are coming behind us. Are we trying to encourage growth and understanding in future missionaries or are we trying to get them to give up before they ever even get here?

    • Greg Dill

      We’re trying to be honest, real, and transparent. We’re trying to dissuade people from coming to the mission field with rose-colored glasses. We’re trying to avoid people from coming to the mission field and suddenly crashing and burning. Some people need to really understand what its like to serve on the mission field… the good, the bad, and the ugly.

  • LH

    Is it just me, or are all the commenters assuming ‘being a missionary’ involves going to a country which is a lot less developed than your own? I’d add ‘don’t become a missionary in Europe if you can’t hack other people thinking you’re not a real missionary’…Great post though, thank you!

  • Thomas

    In ‘The Surprising Grace of Disappointment’ by Dr Koessler of the Moody Bible Institute he talks about disappointment and how it is where our expectations meet our disappointments that we find the reality of who Christ is. God is big, and he has amazing plans, he does amazing things, and we can expect him to act where he has CALLED us. We can align ourselves with his plan that is beyond our expectations, and we can expect great things, but some of our expectations are misplaced, where we meet the reality of our disappointment is where we realise what God is doing. We would be misguided to not expect great things, but more so to expect our own great things.

    Sadly this article seems to have been written by someone who has been hurt by the mission field, but that doesn’t mean she has the right to discourage others. Though some points are true, such as the later points, all are baed on a misunderstanding of what missions is, missions, biblically, does not have to be cross cultural or international. One of the biggest problems in missions and ministry today is that people aren’t willing to commit long term, no matter what the cost, regardless of the location.

    God is in the business of changing the world, if we are doing his work, then we can expect him to work too.

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  • Michael Summers

    I almost went to Africa as a missionary thirty years ago. However, I took a course in cross-cultural communication, took a deep, hard look at my self and my ability to transition into a radically different culture at that time, and pursued mission in a part of America where my religious group was weak. Thank you for realistic insights. Hopefully they will help some to realize they are ready and others to realize they need to grow just a bit more.

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  • keithmh113

    don’t become a missionary if you think your way to do church is THE way to do church.
    don’t confuse ex-pat with a missionary. Doing Christian things once a week overseas does not qualify you as a missionary.
    Don’t become a missionary if you are looking to get away from the evils of the American church.
    Don’t become a missionary if you can’t see yourself at least considering staying if war breaks out.

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  • American Refugee

    Don’t become a missionary if you can’t put up with expats from your own country who don’t think you should be there.

  • Alex Anderson

    This was very helpful, particularly points 4 and 5! although this was clearly written by an American missionary in Asia I did draw many parallels with my own situation as a UK missionary in Italy. Thanks Laura Parker for your honesty. God bless you.

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  • joesomebodyds@hotmail.com

    I would add “don’t become a missionary if you agree with any of the points in this article”. Don’t become a missionary if you think being a missionary is about you at all. Being a missionary is about the people you are helping. And don’t become a missionary if your ONLY objective is to spread the word of Jesus. Help the people because it is the right thing to do, whether you believe in objective morality or not. Help the people with what they need help with, and provide what they need…and do it with love in your heart. And if you can do that while modeling what it means to be a good Christian…they are going to want to find out more about Jesus and your faith.

  • Jess Dee

    Hehehehe thanks for the remind

  • Tess Willard

    I was particularly struck by #2 Don’t Become a Missionary to
    Make Yourself Better. You talked about ‘what
    you are here ,you will be there’ and 1 Corinthians 12:14-24 about how God gives
    us all different gifts and we need all those gifts to build his Kingdom. I
    think we often forget that wherever we are and what ever our occupation is we
    are called to be witnesses for Christ. Weather
    that means as a parent, a businessman, a student, etc. we can be a light to the
    world. For example, St. Elizabeth of
    Hungry was a Queen, St Augustine
    was a priest and did a lot of instrumental writing for the Church, and St.
    Elizabeth Ann Seton founded an orphanage but all served God and God touched
    many people through them (and still does).

  • Tess Willard

    I was particularly struck by #2 Don’t become a missionary to
    make yourself better. You talked about ‘what
    you are here ,you will be there’ and 1 Corinthians 12:14-24 about how God gives
    us all different gifts and we need all those gifts to build his Kingdom. I
    think we often forget that wherever we are and what ever our occupation is we
    are called to be witnesses for Christ. Weather
    that means as a parent, a businessman, a student, etc. we can be a light to the
    world. For example, St. Elizabeth
    of Hungry(http:/www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=45)was a Queen,
    St Augustine
    (https://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=418) was a priest and did a
    lot of instrumental writing for the Church, and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (https://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1250)
    founded an orphanage in the U.S. but all served God and God touched many people’s
    lives through them.

  • Bonnee

    In my opinion, Drew (regarding what you shared here):

    But in doing so I feel like you have needlessly gone out of your way to discourage potential missionaries

    although it (and a host of other things unrelated to this post) can be discouraging, it will be temporary for any person who has a genuine calling of missions upon their lives.

    The “ache of going out” is not something so easily hindered.

    In the end, if they remain willing – the Holy Spirit will get them there regardless. (Sharing from my own experiences.)

  • Bonnee

    By the way, Laura, nice list.

    Although my #1 reason was not included, you provided lots of very good (and authentic) reasons for why people should consider not becoming missionaries.

  • Lourens Laureti

    Nice post, I have been a missionary in South Africa (my home country) and then amongst a people group in Papua New Guinea (current). I also had some wrong reasons for going at first and the Lord showed me over years that it was pride! I wanted to make a name for myself and had to learn on the hard way that the mission field will quickly strip you of your pride, which of course is a great thing:)

  • Erin Foley

    #3, oh my goodness, yes! And #10…. hahaha! I know and love a few of those.

  • Hi dear Laura, thanks for your good article, am glad you have open doors for further adds.

    I have nothing against your 10 points above. I am a missionary with my wife for almost 20 years in Africa and can guarantee that I have seen many Christians becoming missionaries with those mistakes in somehow. However I would like to add this:

    First of all, the title of your post can communicate the idea that missionary is an oversea aspect: The ones that leaves their country or place to go to some other places or culture. And I do believe that you know that this not true. No one become a missionary after being sent to other place and so on. So maybe you could improve the title of your post.

    Secondly, the so called ‘missions’ or ‘sending missionaries’ among Christians is a matter of ‘relocation of contingent’ (not sure whether this is the right terminology in English or not), but what a mean is the military practice of sending a group of soldiers to a new front. And here is the core point: NO ONE should be sent or leave their front to another front without:

    1. A CALL – A clear and confirmed God’s call. This call reveals at least to ‘WHERE’ and ‘WHAT TO DO’.
    2. A PROJECT – The same Spirit that tell us the ‘what’, is the one who reveals the ‘HOW’ to do. He is the leader of the Redemption Process and we are just His partners. He is in charge and has the steering wheel all the time. We must be led by Him.
    3. A TEAM – ‘Alone never, never alone’, is a spiritual principle and can not be break. Sometimes God tell you to form a team; sometimes He tells you to join a team.

    After one receive a clear call from God, the next two questions God wants to answer him is: HOW and WITH WHO I will do that.

    This is what I have learned during my journey:

    Most of the problems that ‘missionaries’ face in the field is results, fruits or somehow connected with lacking one of these three columns.

    I hope my contribution can add some value to your post and your followers.


  • Anonymous American Missionary

    Thanks for the great post. I agree with so much of what you wrote – but this part makes me sad: “We (Westerners) are loud and obnoxious and, good Lord, arrogant. Our DNA has us descending on other cultures and dictating ways they can “fix” themselves…”
    Hmmm. First of all, I don’t agree with stereotyping “Westerners”. Some are loud, some are not. Some are obnoxious, while some are the sweetest, kindest, gentlest people on earth. There is no DNA for “Westerners”.
    But perhaps more importantly, you appear to be falling for the same old “Westerners” bashing so popular in church circles. Having served as a missionary for 33 years, I’ve discovered that EVERY culture fits the description you tag exclusively on “Westerners”. Loud? You must be talking about Nigerians. Obnoxious? That’s a good description for a lot of Chinese. Arrogant? Indians from the upper caste are some of the most arrogant people in the world.
    And it’s rare to find any foreigner who doesn’t descend on other cultures dictating their own ways to the lands they visit. While we should never condescend to come in and “fix” people by subjecting them to our ways, at least a lot of “Westerners” are trying to fix problems – unlike some foreigners who come in to dictate without any desire to fix anything.
    It’s time to stop acting as if “Westerners” and more importantly, Americans, are the only ones with sin issues. Every missionary, regardless of their national or ethnic origin, needs to be sanctified.

  • great post laura! i think i read this b/f…maybe in its earlier incarnation:) i have been an MK and a missionary…in JA, for 7 years. you definitely speak the truth!

  • Karen Monson

    Don’t become a missionary withut clear direction from God and know
    it will be tested

  • Beautiful

    Yall r corrupted people who have no life’s

  • iamtheman88

    My friends, I come from Israel. I am not trying to highlight the fact that I am from there. It is just something I want you to know before you read my comment. My parents did the mistake of ripping me from the Holy Land bringing me to North America. Now, I am suffering. Before I proceed to explain why, I would like to mention that, agreed, Israel is also a corporate mess. However, it is God’s land. You can feel the connection right away. Even after your cubicle prison, you can go and take a breath of serene tranquility that you cannot do in NA. This ‘breath’, it is the peace your hearts desire. It cannot exist if the locals have not embraced life. Good seeds do not grow in rotten soil. This is the harsh reality of our times. We need to change! As a Jew, we are different. Probably one of the most misunderstood people in the world. What does it mean to be called “Jewish”? It literally means: “the Thankful one (to God)”. We are not gold or money worshipers. We do not like to profess in hatred. We want to live in Peace with everybody. Like I stated above, we are Different. You cannot attack somebody that is not like you. That is why I strongly urge you all to unite, Christian, Jews and Muslims and to fix the broken world that is left in shambles by greed. Except everybody as you do your own child and save yourself from decaying desires.

  • Chris

    It’s very simple: Don’t be a missionary if you don’t have a calling from God.

    • Jordan

      I just want to help people. I’ve had no calling from God.

  • Abbie Dusciuc

    what about
    number 11: “don’t become a missionary if you’ve never even been on a STM…?”
    I want to be a Missionary Pilot, but I find it ironic because I have not yet been on a STM, I’m 19 nearly 20 :L
    Sometimes, I just don’t know where God is leading me but I really do feel led towards Missions.

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