A blog from desiringgod.org has recently been making the rounds on social media again.
The article, titled “Don’t Complicate the Missionary Call” was actually written in 2011 by David Sitton, but I hadn’t read it until a friend of mine recently shared it on Facebook.
I read it, and I didn’t like it.
Why, you ask? There are three reasons why I didn’t like this article.
Why did this blog make me uncomfortable?
Because I think of all the times when I didn’t participate in missions (whether as a goer or a sender) and used the excuse of not being “called.”
Sitton writes that: “The clear command of Christ ‘to go’ should be, by itself, sufficient to set you on your way ‘into all the world. . . proclaiming the gospel to the whole creation’ (Mark 16:15). You can’t go wrong by trying to go.”
I couldn’t help but think of all the times I let the opportunity to participate in missions pass me by. I used the spiritual language of “calling” to cover up my own apathy, laziness, or fear as an excuse to not Go, Send, or Pray.
Reading this article held a mirror up to my own heart… and it was uncomfortable.
We love the dramatic stories, don’t we? The stories where a missionary gets a unique and divine vision?
It builds up that image we have of “The Missionary” in our imagination. Missionaries are somehow more special, more spiritual, more capable, and closer to God than the rest of us. They must have had some divine call!
But here’s a little secret … they aren’t, and they don’t.
Sitton writes: “I was never called to be a missionary, nor was I drafted. I volunteered. No special call was needed. I chose to go; I wanted to go; I was compelled to go. And where I go is always determined by an open Bible and a stretched-out map of the regions where Christ is still unknown and un-praised!”
And that leads me to the third reason I didn’t like this article …
Sitton writes, “The missionary call is not like a prison dog that tracks us down, sniffs us out, and hog-ties us for the nations. That is silly-talk and really bad theology. Nowhere in Scripture is a mysterious (supernatural) call a prerequisite before we can respond to the Great Commission. The opposite is actually true.”
So if missionaries aren’t extra special Christians, and the missionary call isn’t mystical (and is, in fact, plain as day), then that means that I need to take responsibility for the decisions that I make when it comes to my role in missions.
These are the three reasons I did not like Sitton’s article, but even though I didn’t like it, I do agree with it.
First, Jesus’ command is clear and second, no special call is required.
I agree with Sitton’s statement that I quoted earlier, “The clear command of Christ ‘to go’ should be, by itself, sufficient to set you on your way ‘into all the world.” Jesus is our master, and when we open up the Bible it is very clear that he invites us to join him in making disciples. More than that, he commands us to go. This is not optional, nor is it vague. So if missionaries aren’t extra special Christians, and the missionary call isn’t mystical (and is, in fact, plain as day), then that means that you and I need to take action.
So, what do we do?
Faced with opportunities to go to the nations, many of you are asking: Am I called? I get it. I have asked the same question.
Here’s a paradigm shifter: why not say yes to going, and then just pick a place that interests you!
- Am I using the lack of “special calling” as an excuse?
- What’s actually behind my hesitation, fear, or apathy?
- Is there a part of the world that I’m curious about?
- Will I take a step of faith, and starting praying for a country or region of the world?
Why not take the next step?
- Read Sitton’s Post: Don’t Complicate the Missionary Call
- Insights on Decision Making by Keith Davy
- Guide to Emotion-free Decision Making by Erin Ford
- Stop Asking: Should I Go On A Mission Trip? by Darren Lung