10 Reasons You Should Be a Missionary

by Jonathan Trotter on May 16, 2014

Sometimes, we’re a pretty serious bunch, and sometimes, that’s ok. But when I was a teenager and our house had five kids in diapers (long story), my dad used to say, “If we don’t laugh, we’ll cry.” He was right, and we chose to laugh. A lot. (The five in diapers hadn’t learned this maxim yet, though, so there was still plenty of crying.)

If you’ve read my post, Outlawed Grief, you know I’m not opposed to crying. I’m also not opposed to laughing. So, if you will, journey with me through a Top Ten list of why the job of a missionary is just plain awesome.

10. You’ll get to try new things, like typhoid fever and amoebas.
On the bright side, most of the time your illnesses will sound cool. And cool illnesses make people pray more. Note: ulcers aren’t cool. If you get an ulcer, don’t tell anyone.

Oh, and make sure your kids know how great all these new things are too. I was hanging out at an international high school once and overheard a kid say something about a student who was absent. He nonchalantly said, “Oh, he’s not here; he has an amoeba.” I wanted to grab the kid by the collar and say, “You know that’s not a normal sentence, right?”


9. You will have friends from countries you didn’t know existed.
Faroe Islands? East Timor? Canada? Living abroad tends to add countries to the map. But consider yourself warned, living abroad also confuses things. For example, I’m no longer sure if a boot is a type of shoe or a part of a car. Is paste something with which you build a house or a sandwich? Is a biscuit breakfast food or dessert? And what about this thing called “a barbie”?

Your kids might be confused too. Our little girl loves the story of the “Ten Leopards.” You know, the one where Jesus healed ten leopards, but only one came back to say “thank you”? Thank you, you wonderful world of missions, for giving our whole family such a linguistic advantage and wide worldview. A worldview in which Jesus cares so much about jungle animals, he sometimes heals ten at a time.


8. Your driving skills will “improve.”

Who knew you could survive so well without rearview mirrors, turn signals or lanes? Who knew driving 20mph (or 32kph for those of you who don’t know how to measure stuff correctly) could be so exhilarating. And sometimes, cars on the mission field actually get younger, with fewer miles on them than when they were imported. How cool is that?

7. You’ll learn to be grateful for the little things, like cheese.
Older missionaries in my part of the world remember when cheese came to town. Cheese and stop lights apparently arrived at the same time. So if you’re in a part of the world without cheese, extra points for you. And may I recommend you start praying for a stop light?

(I was going to include bacon in this section, but then I remembered we were talking about “the little things.”)

6. Your bargaining skills will improve…with the police.
The police don’t want to write you a ticket, and you don’t really want to pay a ticket. And everyone knows you didn’t really violate a law anyway. One time, a pot-bellied officer demanded Happy New Year 2018 in advance beer money, so naturally I offered Twizzlers. He pondered for a second, then held up four fingers. I complied and drove off, chuckling as I watched him and three buddies chow down. Apparently, Twizzlers make mouths (and cops) happy.

5. You will learn how to complain in multiple languages.
The ability to complain, out loud, in front of other people, without them knowing, is the gift of a lifetime. Just be sure to do a quick perimeter check for possible same-language listeners within earshot.

A hotel worker didn’t do a proper perimeter check once, and I clearly heard him complaining about some rude tourists, “Sure, why don’t they just go sunbathe by the pool. I hope a massive rock falls off the building and smashes their heads.” I made a mental note to self: speak extra nice to that employee. And get a cabana with a roof.

4. You’ll always be able to use the excuse, “I’m not from around here.”
When you need to explain why you wear clothes, or why you don’t really care much for fried spiders or bony duck embryos, simply state “I’m not from around here.”

Really though, and I think we all know it already, this one’s most useful during furlough. Can’t figure out the ATM? or the drive through? or Wal-Mart? Just smile, mumble something in another language about massive rocks smashing things, and say “I’m not from around here.” But don’t forget your perimeter check.

3. Fashion rules will no longer apply.
You ever seen a missionary? Yeah.

2. You’ll get to report to hundreds of people, every month, details about your work, your family, and how you spend your money.
Who needs Dave Ramsey when you have the entire deacon board of multiple churches analyzing your finances? It’s accountability on huge quantities of steroids.

They may ask why you need so much, or why you have to pay for your kids’ education, or why you save for retirement, but at the end of the day, they are paying you to do this thing we call missions. It’s an honor to serve, even when the reports are due, the power’s out, it’s hot season, the spreadsheet’s rebelling, and you can’t figure out how to get that docx into a pdf into an html into a mobile-friendly, print-friendly, e-mail-friendly format. But hey, at least you don’t have to use envelopes.

1. You’ll get to experience the raw joy of crossing language barriers, cultural barriers, time zones and comfort zones, simply to invite someone to follow Jesus.
Maybe you preach the gospel straight up, street-corner style. Maybe you serve the sickest and the poorest, touching the folks no one else wants to touch. Maybe you teach English or a vocation, aiming to empower. Maybe you do a thousand things for economies or community health or justice. Whatever you do, there is one Love that draws us all together and pushes us out the door. Every day.

His name is Jesus, and at the end of the day, He is worth.it.all.

So, why do you think this job is awesome?

If a “Top 10 List” could have 15, what would you add?

Adapted from trotters41.com. Photo credit.


 10 Reasons You Should Be a Missionary

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About Jonathan Trotter

Jonathan is a missionary in Southeast Asia, where he provides pastoral counseling at a local counseling center. He also serves as one of the pastors at an international church. Before moving to the field with his wife of sixteen years and their four kids, he served as a youth pastor in the Midwest for ten years. He enjoys walking with people towards Jesus and eating imported Twizzlers. | www.trotters41.com | facebook: trotters41 | twitter: @trotters41
  • malanaganz

    11. You get to learn how to slow down and value relationships over tasks.
    12. You get to wear shorts and sandals every day (at least here in Panama)
    13. All the chicken is “free range,” although mostly they eat the garbage in the gutters
    14. You feel like you are on a perpetual camping trip, because everyone has loud conversations outside and there is no glass in the window
    15. You have the opportunity to learn how to build a good garbage fire.

    • I was traveling in the countryside today and saw some of those “free range” chickens you were referring to… Thanks for adding to the list!

  • Ruthie

    These were so great…and so true! Thanks for making me smile and laugh! Can I add a few?
    11. You get to try new foods. I never expected to enjoy Indian cuisine in Uganda. And cooked bananas and an entire fish, head included?
    12. You have the opportunity to take “fun” risks – like riding a motorcycle without a helmet, riding a large canoe across Lake Victoria, or whitewater rafting on the Nile River.
    13. You discover you can do things you didn’t think you could – living without “real” power and running water, taking cold showers, cramming in a vehicle with 18 other people, advocating for yourself and others.
    14. The opportunity to see the power and love of Christ work in the most remote, forgotten and unlikely places – when a drunkard confesses Christ in the midst of a rainstorm on the backside of an island; when young Christians gain their spiritual footing in a weekly meeting, held in a small mud house. There’s no place or person He cannot reach! What a privilege to witness this first-hand!

    • Ha! You’ve got awesome Indian food too?! : )

      • Ruthie

        Yes! That was something I didn’t anticipate, but it sure has been fun – and delicious! 🙂

    • Shirley Naron

      hi ptr. jonathan, we are a family missionary living in east timor for 4 yrs, btw it’s Timor-Leste now…surely the love of JESUS is our strong motivation to be here, calling..:-) thanks for sharing your experiences too…

  • Ken


    • It continues to amaze me how expats on different continents seem to share so many of these experiences. I guess that’s why having this kind of forum is so healthy (and fun!).

  • Tammy Ogden

    Love it. Made me smile.

  • Lisette Lewis

    Your students bring you avocados they picked during recess.
    You also get to give your TCK middle schoolers etiquette advice about not cleaning their toenails in class. (They looked at me like I was crazy. They had no idea picking at your feet in the midst of a group is kind of gross.)
    You have to make rules about whether the chameleons they found on their way to school are allowed in the classroom.
    You occasionally have to settle disputes about said chameleons because, you know, they look different after sitting on the curtains a while and you can’t tell which is which.

  • Sola Fidd

    11. Moving house at least 6 times in 4 years including at least one international move.
    12. Finding a maggot in your dessert and eating it any way. The dessert, that is. And the maggot.
    13. Children who learn how to say ‘diarrhoea’ before they can say ‘grandma’.
    14. Same-sex physical contact without any sexual connotations (‘OK this is uncomfortable’).
    15. Watching a Norwegian guy chasing two wild wolves across a Central Asian grassland at 4am in order to take a photograph. Understanding why the wolves were running away.

    • Um, number 15 sounds completely epic. And the whole dessert/maggot thing? Well, that’s just gross, and I totally get it. : )

  • Danielle

    Great list…love it!

  • Pingback: 10 reasons to be a missionary | Flung Forth Anew()

  • Cheekyrafiki

    I don’t know about 11-15 … but one of the biggest things for us as a family living in Tanzania, is having a greater appreciation for good quality toilet paper … oh my goodness, it really is the little things!! 😉

  • Kristi

    I remember when cheese came to town …. and then when it became regular on the shelves! And when the Indian food restaurant moved here 3 years ago – it was epic!!
    11. joy in finding the rare and special treat when it comes to town – peanut m&ms and cherry coke!!
    12. fresh, huger than life mangoes
    13. off-roading in a 4×4 just to get to your village!
    14. seeing Bible stories come to life and sometimes feeling like you’re living it – the woman searching for the coin in her house (I dropped a coin in the sand road and never found it), separating the sheep and the goats (they are nearly identical here), the washing of feet after walking the sandy roads, caring for the poor, orphans and widows.
    15. singing and worshiping God in other languages – and catching a glimpse of what it will be like to worship God around His throne with every tribe, tongue, and nation!!

    • Great additions, Kristi! Thanks! I really appreciate the mixing of the “light” stuff like candy and Coke with the really life-altering stuff like Bible stories and echoes of heaven. It reminds me of life…

    • Thanks Kristi. and Jonathan! #14, yes. And #11? Someone just found root beer in the city 4 hrs away and brought a can back and shared it with all of us! And yes, I took a picture. Oh, the little things…

  • Carman

    So true! I feel I have grown in all 10 ways!
    Love Ruthie’s additions, too. I will say that American commodities like running water sure become appreciated!

    • Yup. On our first furlough, one of our kids was SERIOUSLY impressed with the free water at the public park. He said, “Wait. You mean it’s free AND safe?!” : )

  • Elise

    We are still praying for the cheese! 😉

    • Knock and the door shall be opened…
      Thanks for stopping by. And living without cheese.

  • Pingback: Ten Reasons You Should Be a Missionary | The Trotter Family()

  • Pingback: MORE Reasons You Should Be a Missionary | The Trotter Family()

  • Lourens Laureti


  • Ecuador Missions

    Absolutely awesome blog!!!! Love, love, love every one of these reasons!!!

  • mmegginson

    Thanks for making me laugh as well. After just moving to Costa Rica I can totally relate! Thank you for sharing and thank you for serving in Asia!

    • You’re welcome! Thanks for stopping by and joining in the fun…

  • Karin

    i am a little late to the game, but here’s my additions:

    11. hot showers “back home” are so much more appreciated after you’ve done it “mission-style”- where you have to climb down a cliff to the river, fill a bucket, climb back UP the cliff, carry the bucket back home, make a fire, heat the water, put it in a bag and then pour it over your head while crouching naked in your latrine.

    12. having to walk a minimum of 30 minutes straight up or straight down the mountain path, depending on if you are going out or going home, negates the need for a gym membership.

    13. lack of good cheese is an automatic 15 pound weight loss when entering the field.

    14. frequent diarrhea is usually good for another 15 pounds.

    15. if you can’t have pets due to your unpredictable lifestyle, the spiders are big enough to double as a pet. or a ride into town.

    • I love it! Thanks for the additions, Karin! Now go ride your spider down a mountain path until you find a good, hot shower. And cheese.

  • Lanh Nguyen

    Awesome! I need to know these before I become a missionary. I have been prayed for Africa. I love this place and people there. I’ve God to give me opportunity to go there and become a missionary! Pls pray for me 🙂 thank you

Previous post:

Next post: