Top 5 Reasons Not to be a Missionary
By: Sarah Granger
If you have sinned, fallen short, made mistakes, or otherwise screwed up your life in any way, God cannot possibly be calling you to serve Him! Look at Church history: St. Paul, persecutor of Christians; St. Augustine, hedonist; St. Francis of Assisi, rebellious youth – the list goes on and on. These Saints made serious mistakes, and as a result, God simply could not use them to witness the Gospel. Their lives made little or no impact on the world because they had messed up before they decided to give it all to Jesus.
I personally considered my past a possible “out” of serving as a missionary. When God called me into missions, I had gone through a divorce and felt like my past would create a stumbling block for the people I ministered to. The priest at my mission post simply said, “God called you here, Sarah, and I don’t see anyone else standing in line to serve these people. If you don’t, who will?” As I shared my brokenness with others it became evident I was not the only person with a messy past trying to serve the Lord, to follow Jesus. Witnessing to God’s faithfulness in spite of my mistakes somehow worked out, but don’t take my word for it. See if God can work with whatever you have holding you back. Who knows? You might end up like poor St. Ignatius of Loyola, who, because of his gambling and carousing as a youth, was only able to catechize and convert thousands and founded a passionate missionary order.
Being a missionary prevents you from planning for the future. You have no money. You have no retirement plan. You can’t save up for your children’s college funds. You are basically admitting that this world has nothing for you and banking it all on the World to come. This is crazy. Pretty much everyone in the world agrees it’s a bad idea.
When I was a child, I heard people telling my parents (who were missionaries) over and over again that they were shortchanging us by not planning for their children’s futures. They ignored all this well intentioned advice and continued living in poverty, serving the poor, and giving any extra money away to people who were starving or sick, instead of wisely saving for our college education. My brothers and sisters and I suffered from their lack of planning for our future. We all went to college on full scholarships (except for Simon-Peter who is mentally handicapped), and graduated with honors. My parents refused to plan for our future and just gave everything to God, who for some absurd reason decided to make sure their children’s futures were provided for.
3. Your Children:
If you have children, you can rest easy knowing that there is no way YOU are called to be a missionary. Being a missionary can be dangerous – developing nations are places of poverty and disease. Furthermore, your children probably don’t want to leave everything and be missionaries. Seriously, would God call you to subject your kids to hardship? What did He do with His only Son? And if your children aren’t sure about being missionaries, how could you in good conscience bring them into missions? What are you going to do next – force them to eat vegetables, do homework, take baths? Kids know what is best for them, and you should always listen to them! If they grow up serving the poor in mission, they will never become normal American teenagers.
Sadly, I have seen this play out in my own life. My oldest daughter, Alyse, doesn’t like to hang out at the mall like a normal teenager. Instead of shopping, she enjoys bringing her clothes on mission trips and leaving them for the poor. Instead of planning a fun spring break trip to the be
ach with her senior class, even though we are now living in the States, she is spending her time and energy fundraising to bring her class to Mexico on a mission trip. My middle daughter, instead of saving up money for the new camera she really wants, decided instead to give to the Heifer Project and buy some struggling family she doesn’t even know across the world a goat. A goat!? Because they grew up serving Jesus, surrounded by poverty and hardship, they don’t understand that they should just focus on themselves and what they want. They really are weird. This is what I get for forcing them to be missionaries.
4. Your Desire for a Spouse and Children:
Okay, so you don’t have a spouse or children – yet. A surprisingly good reason NOT to become a missionary. In case you didn’t realize this, missionaries have very limited social lives. They are so focused on preaching the Gospel and serving the poor that they don’t have time to hang out in fun social situations and look for spouses. Oftentimes, they rarely interact with eligible members of the opposite sex for months at a time. If you are single, you obviously should not throw away your young, single years serving God when you could be searching for the ONE.
A few years ago I lived in Spain with four other lovely single women. All of us hoped to be married and have children someday. Instead of doing the sensible thing and staying in the United States, where awesome Catholic single men who want to be missionaries abound, we trusted our futures to God and went to serve Him on the other side of the world. God is so sneaky, though! He sent our husbands to meet us on mission trips. Four of us are now married to amazing missionary guys, we have four beautiful babies, and one of us is still happily serving the Lord as a single girl. What if we had stayed where it made more sense to be instead of throwing our lives away serving Jesus? It’s almost like if you give your plans to God, He really cares about them and gives you the desires of your heart.
It’s pretty safe to say that being a missionary will not mix well with any plans that you already have for your life. It’s hard to get that next promotion on the mission field. You almost definitely won’t end up with the vacation house you always dreamed of. Don’t be a missionary, because God doesn’t care about your plans. He has his own plans for you, and if you surrender to Him, you will be stuck with His plan. Jeremiah 29:11 confirms this: “Behold the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for woe, plans to give you a future full of hope.”
History bears this out. Look at all the saints who went out to preach the Gospel and had their plans destroyed. St. Peter probably had plans to be a successful fisherman, instead, he ended up the first Pope. Mary probably had plans to have a quiet, happy life in Nazareth, instead, she is the Queen of Heaven and Earth. My Dad, a successful lawyer, wanted to be District Attorney, instead, hundreds of families in unheard of places like Malaybalay, Philippines, and General Cepeda, Mexico, credit his preaching with bringing them into relationship with Jesus. I planned to quietly raise my family in Abbeville after my divorce, and instead we have travelled Mexico, Belize, Spain, Portugal, and England together preaching the Gospel, serving the poor, and loving every minute of God’s crazy plan for us. I don’t even remember why I wanted my plan anymore, that’s how much God destroyed it. Don’t be a missionary, or He may do the same to you.