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When They Say No: Honoring Your Parents on the Path to the Field

When They Say No: Honoring Your Parents on the Path to the Field

Honoring your parents as an adult can be complicated even when you and they see eye to eye. When they’re not on board with something you sense God calling you to do, navigating this path becomes even trickier. So, what do you do when your mom or dad—or both—doesn’t support your plans for cross-cultural ministry?

The following principles provide a foundation for responding to your parents in ways that demonstrate respect and gratitude. As you address their specific concerns, keep these things in mind.


Surround the situation in prayer. Start by acknowledging God’s sovereignty and asking Him to give you wisdom and humility. Pray for discernment in applying His command to honor your parents in your unique circumstances. Ask Him to give you courage to share openly as well as to submit to His leading.

Then, thank the Lord for the parents He’s given you. If they’re not believers, pray that God will make the hope within you evident and use your desire to serve Him to draw them to the gospel. And, whether they know Jesus or not, ask God to work through them to lead you and to use your conversations with them for His glory.

Bring Your Parents Into the Conversation

How much have you shared with your parents about how God has been leading you? If you’ve kept this to yourself, they may be taken aback by what seems to them like a sudden and majorly life-altering decision.

So, if you haven’t already, invite your parents into your decision-making process, approaching it as a dialog rather than a declaration of what you’ve already decided to do. Explain how you became interested in cross-cultural ministry and why you’d like to pursue it. And then, listen.

Remember that if your parents aren’t believers or aren’t part of a church that’s involved in missions, the idea of raising support may be completely foreign to them. Take time to explain exactly what you’re considering, and remember that they may need time to think and process.

Be Open to Input

Your parents have known you longer than anyone, and chances are, they have a solid understanding of your strengths and weaknesses. So, when they voice objections or concerns, pay attention. Be prepared to take what they say to heart.

They may see areas in your life in which you need to grow or gain experience. Your parents’ input is valuable and can help you not only reach the field, but arrive there better prepared for the challenges of cross-cultural ministry—and more equipped to stay.

Show Respect and Gratitude

There’s no one-size-fits-all template for honoring your parents when they don’t support or approve of your plans to serve cross-culturally. The good news is that you’re not in this alone. God promises to give wisdom—not just a little but abundantly—when we ask Him (see James 1:5). So, ask Him! Seek guidance through His Word, ask for counsel from mature believers and listen for the still small voice of His Spirit.

If you’re still living under your parents’ roof, be especially mindful about how your actions would—or wouldn’t—communicate honor for your parents. In some cases, for example, honoring them might involve getting your own apartment and becoming financially independent before taking concrete steps toward cross-cultural ministry.

Regardless of the practical steps you take, prioritize respect and gratitude for your parents—even if you disagree about major issues and gaining their support in your pursuit of missions seems impossible. Your attitude can be a powerful testimony, and it may be what God uses to give your parents a different perspective.

Be Patient and Trust

You probably didn’t decide to pursue cross-cultural ministry overnight. You likely prayed about it and thought it over; and as you did, God worked in your heart. Trust Him to do the same thing in your parents’ hearts, and be willing to wait on His timing. And continue to pray, patiently and hopefully, knowing that your Heavenly Father is faithful.

We’d love to come alongside you as you seek to honor your parents on your path to the field. Just email [email protected] to connect with us.

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