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The Only Lasting Motivation: Seven Reasons NOT to Go

The Only Lasting Motivation: Seven Reasons NOT to Go

What’s driving you to consider missions?

There are plenty of reasons you may be drawn to cross-cultural ministry, but Jesus mentioned only one of them: obedience. Each time He commissioned His followers to take the gospel to the nations, He didn’t appeal to their sense of adventure or speak of the benefits of traveling beyond their homeland. He simply commanded them to be His witnesses throughout the earth: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” (Mark 16:15)

God can use all sorts of things to spark your interest in a particular place or people group or to give you a desire to serve. But if your deepest motivation is anything other than a love for Jesus and a desire to obey Him and see Him worshiped among the nations, it will fall short when the excitement fades and the going gets tough. Let’s look at seven things that shouldn’t be your primary driving factor.

1. You love adventure. Yes, moving to an unfamiliar country can be an exciting journey. But everyday life on the field is often filled not with excitement and exploration but with the mundane, and a penchant for adventure won’t be enough to sustain you.

2. You want to travel. It’s difficult to serve cross-culturally if you hate to fly or loathe packing a suitcase. But once you’ve settled in on the field, a desire to travel may leave you itching to go somewhere else rather than investing in your host community.

3. You’re fascinated with a country or culture. Enjoying the food, music, art or any other aspect of a culture can be a fantastic perk of living and serving overseas. But if it’s what drives you to the field, it will fall short once it becomes the norm.

4. You’re interested in a guy or girl who’s pursuing missions. Hitching a ride on someone else’s passion to serve across cultures won’t automatically give you that same desire, and following another person—even someone you could see yourself with for the rest of your life—to the field simply because you’re attracted to him or her is a setup for frustration and conflict.

5. You want a fresh start. Pursuing a new start across the ocean might seem like a good way to put a disappointment or loss behind you, whether that something is a lost job, a personal failure or a dissolved relationship. But missions isn’t an escape, and the thing you’re fleeing won’t disappear just because it’s in a different time zone. In addition, facing and processing letdowns, mistakes or grief will likely be more difficult amid the challenges of cross-cultural life.

6. You’re hoping to find a spouse or seeking to build a family. While cross-cultural workers sometimes meet their husband or wife on the field, don’t allow a desire to find love lead you overseas. The same principle is true if you’re hoping to adopt children from another culture: Don’t let this be a primary motivation! In addition to the disappointment you could face if your hopes don’t materialize, consider what might happen if your dreams do come true. What will keep you on the field once your desire has been fulfilled?

7. You want to make a difference. Our culture continually feeds us the message that we are important and that we can accomplish anything we set our minds to do. But taking the gospel to the least-reached isn’t about us and our ability to have an impact. A desire to make a difference can only serve as a lasting motivation for missions when it’s grounded in a passion to see people be transformed not by us but by the gospel.

All of these things can be good things. But on their own, none of them is strong enough to keep you going for the long haul. When hardships hit, the only thing that will continue to drive you to serve is a commitment to obey Jesus’ commission out of love for Him.

It’s great to go prompted by a desire to have an impact or to experience another culture. But don’t go JUST because of those things. Go with a motivation that lasts—one that’s rooted in a passion to see the promise of Psalm 86:9 fulfilled: “All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, Lord; they will bring glory to your name.” (NIV)

Motivations can be slippery things, and it can be difficult to identify what’s truly driving you. But we aren’t called to do this alone. In addition to spending time in God’s Word and asking the Lord to reveal what’s happening in your heart, being involved in a local church can help you determine the reasons you’re considering missions and grow your desire to see Jesus worshiped among the nations.

Our Mobilization team would also love to come alongside you! Email [email protected] to connect with us.

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