Missionary work may not seem very glamorous to those who know little about it. But ministry-minded folks often find themselves in the most exotic of cultures providing needed services and personal encouragement to hundreds or thousands of families and individuals.
If you have ever thought about going into this field of work, and perhaps wondered if God was calling you into ministry, here are some things to think about in considering this career vocation.
1. Do you like working with people?
If you are more of a loner or prefer working at your own pace, this job may not be for you. Missionaries or those involved in missions work typically maintain flexible schedules to meet the needs of those in their service area. Of course, you may be able to assist in your preferred capacity, such as computer work or kitchen support, in a role that provides more independence and structure. But more likely than not, you will need to be open to dealing with a range of random and persistent demands on your time and talents.
2. Do you enjoy travel and learning new things?
Missionaries often settle in foreign lands, although they can work in the heart of their homeland in varied projects as well. You may need to learn a new language and practice new customs while serving a diverse population with political, religious, or social ideas that are very different from yours.
3. Do you mind being on call day or night?
While many missionaries are involved with traditional nine-to-five positions, many must keep open schedules or rotate shifts, especially in highly specialized or technical fields such as medicine or digging wells. Decide how much you need structure and predictability in your life, and find out to what degree this would be available in the type of mission work you plan to be involved in.
4. Can you live on a flexible income?
It is not unusual for missionaries to live on shoestring budgets, although many mission organizations and church groups do all they can to meet ongoing and new needs, like a replacement vehicle, as they arise. Keep in mind that few if any missionaries become rich while in the field, although they enjoy a type of wealth stemming from insight into human experience. Some later write books about their lives while in the field.
5. Are you willing to become accountable?
Missionaries are generally affiliated with a support or “sending” group of some kind, often connected with other host churches or organizations. A missionary needs to make annual or periodic reports about the work being carried out. He or she may need to take part in mission events at home, travel to coordinating agencies while abroad, and partake in support-raising activities while on leave.
Few jobs are as fulfilling as missionary work. But few are as demanding, either. Get a complete idea of what will be required before you pursue the idea of becoming a missionary. Then check with your church or a local missions agency for more details.