My friend asked me to comment on the article found at this link:
http://www.trinitykenya.com/10-things-missionaries-wont-tell/

I will try my best to do that, although I feel that I am struggling to organize my thoughts.
1) The Pedestal
I think it is a temptation, to put any person that we respect and admire on a pedestal. I think that this is true of pastors and missionaries alike. It is sometimes hard to remember that the “spiritual giants” we admire are people too and struggle with the same things we do. We get so used to this image we have of them, that it becomes really difficult when they fall or fail. We feel so disappointed because we expected better of them. We judge pastors or missionaries with a different ruler and expect them to be super religious and super spiritual. I think this really does a disservice to them and to ourselves. It encourages them to be prideful and all the more crushed when everyone sees their failings (which are bound to come to light).
I think this article was pointing at that because it was showing that missionaries can’t be “real” because people don’t want to hear that. Quite a few times people have told me “I admire you so much”, and I really don’t know why. My ministry to people is the same one God has called them to, just with a different geographical location. The biggest sacrifice God has called us to make is leaving family and friends. That is a loss that always hurts. Thankfully He fills those holes with people who become like family. I think it is important to recognize that pastors, leaders and missionaries are normal people. We should not be surprised when they fail, but we should tenderly and lovingly encourage their repentance.
2) Hiding
I think that in many ways missionaries are encouraged to keep up the “pedestal” image or location and not be real and transparent because they need to continue to receive people’s support. They need both financial support and encouragement, and if they admit their challenges very clearly, people might say, “What are you doing there?” Their board might even call them back. Also, when missionaries report, they feel like they need to share only the good stories. They need to keep things up-beat all the time and let people know what a good job they are doing and why they should still be supported. They aren’t encouraged to share their real struggles and admit who they are. That can be really detrimental for all parties I believe.
3) Fund-raising
I really liked reading some of the comments on the article. I have really disliked the process of fund-raising personally. Its never comfortable for me to ask people to give so that we can do this job. I wonder what I am depriving other people of and wonder if it is right. But my perspective about it has been challenged. At the school I worked at last year, I heard someone speak in chapel about the Great Commission. He said it was everyone’s job to be involved in “missions” and if God was not personally calling us overseas, then we have a duty to be involved in missions by supporting those who are called. I had not thought of it that way before. That was a personal challenge for me to always be involved in supporting those who go. I also thought a comment on this article was interesting—by someone who loves support raising because he gets to invite people along on the journey and invite them to invest the money they have (which is God’s) into something that makes a difference in the world. My hubby pointed out that it might not seem comfortable to many for the person who is raising funds to remind people that what they have is not their own :), but I do personally need reminded of that I know. Sometimes I get caught up in what I work hard to earn and forget that HE gave me the ability to earn it and I should share it wholeheartedly. I feel like I am getting better and better at sharing it though–recognizing that it is not really mine anyway and I’d rather help other people than buy things that don’t last. I still don’t know that I will like fund-raising anymore, but I liked thinking about it new ways.
Conclusion: So, I guess what I appreciated about this article is the need for transparency and being real in pastors, leaders and missionaries—but the need first for believers to support, encourage and love them regardless of their struggles. If the leaders are not sure that they are completely supported, then they will continue to feel like they can’t be their true selves.
That’s my 59cents worth 🙂

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