Is your passion for the glory of Jesus Christ stronger than anything else? Do you believe in the depths of your soul that he is the greatest treasure of the universe, and that heaven and hell are real?
You may envision the glory of adventure, you might be full of noble good works, and maybe new challenges thrill you. But all of this will be crushed under the magnitude of the difficulty of learning another language, the isolation of being away from your home and culture, and the tears of your parents….or your children.
It’s got to be about Jesus, not you. Not your fulfillment. Not your vision. Not your success. Ultimately, it’s got to be just about him.
If you are married, is your spouse steadfastly unified with you in this passion? In work such as this, there is no such thing as a spouse that is along for the ride. After Jesus, prioritize your spouse. If God wants you to do this, he’ll make you united in your vision. Or at the very least, he’ll give your spouse the willingness to humbly seek after that vision.
Are you willing to submit yourself to stringent accountability? Hundreds of people will be keeping you accountable. Every church who puts your picture on their wall. Every person who writes a check each month. Every child who prays for you at bedtime. All of them will expect you to live a life of integrity and humility. All of them will be expecting to hear from you regularly. Are you—or are you willing to become—a good communicator? Are you willing to vulnerably share with people beyond your group of close friends? Are you even willing to share your life in front of large crowds?
Are you adequately trained? Good intentions are great, but they are not enough. You can have the most willing, servant-like heart, and yet be more of a liability than a help overseas. Do you have a valuable skill to share? Education, business, agriculture, linguistics? If you are planning to be a leader, administrator, or church planter, have you proven yourself first in your home country? Are you an avid, dedicated student of the Word of God? If not, then now is not the time for you to go. Get trained first.
Are you willing to be more teachable than you ever have been in your life? Forget everything you thought you knew about people. Be ready to reconsider what church looks like, what productivity looks like, what wealth and poverty look like. You’ll be starting from scratch with an entirely different worldview, and even right and wrong won’t seem so black and white anymore. Think every aspect of your theology is set in stone? Get ready to have your world rocked.
Are you ready to be patient and to persevere? There certainly is a place and a purpose for those who serve overseas for just weeks or months. But real fruit and lasting change? Be prepared for it to take much longer than you ever expected. Years longer. Know that God will need to do some serious work on you first, before your impact will be measurable.
Do you feel inadequate, weak, and overwhelmed with this task? If so, then that’s right where God needs you to be in order to use you. Open your hands, your heart, your plans. Be willing. Be weak. Be okay with failure. You don’t need to have strength, or super-spirituality, or even courage.
You just need to trust. Trust, obey, and be faithful.