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I read “Don’t Complicate the Missionary Call” and I didn’t like it.

Jan 12, 2017 | Darren Lung

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.

1. It Made Me Uncomfortable

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.

“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.” – Darren Lung

2. It Demystified The Missionary Allure

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!

Photo by JD Hancock

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 …

3. It Challenged Me to Take Responsibility For My Own Decisions

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.

Photo by Matthew Kane

You Don’t Have To Like It, But You Do Have To Deal With It

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!

Don’t Leave Until You Consider These Questions:

  1. Am I using the lack of “special calling” as an excuse?
  2. What’s actually behind my hesitation, fear, or apathy?
  3. Is there a part of the world that I’m curious about?
  4. Will I take a step of faith, and starting praying for a country or region of the world?

Why not take the next step?

Visit p2c.sh/globalmissions to find out more about the locations that P2C-Students partners with. We would be thrilled to have you join us this summer as we go to the world.

More Resources To Help:

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

About the Author

Darren Lung

Darren is the National Director of Global Missions with P2C-Students. While on staff with P2C Students he helped launch ministries at Queen’s University and in East Asia. He also spent two years in Glasgow, UK. He is married to a fantastic woman, even though he told her, while they were in university, he would never, ever date her. They have three beautiful kids.

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