Evidently a lot of Christian parents want to raise their children to be missionaries. Every time I post something about missions or missionaries, my post views go through the roof. I am so excited that so many of you are not only dedicating your children to God, but encouraging them to go wherever the Lord leads them to share their faith and serve others.
Because I know the interest level is so high, every time I get the chance to talk with a missionary (or email one!), I interview them on what qualities, skills and attitudes have helped them the most in the field. A while ago, I asked a guy I grew up with who is now a missionary in Kenya what he thought. I loved his list, because although some of it may be intuitive, I think they may be things we take for granted and forget to actively teach our children.
- Courage – Not only the courage to leave home, family and friends, but to tell strangers about Jesus and possibly face physical danger. My friend knows a lot about courage. I will never forget the photos from when a robber attacked him with a machete. He has also had rocks thrown at him because he was teaching about Jesus. Yet he continues to live in Kenya, sharing his faith.
- Love – Others don’t want to listen to anything you have to say unless they can feel your love for them, perhaps especially if you are from another culture.
- Put the needs of others before your own – My friend knew what he was getting in to when he became a minster. You see, his Dad was our preacher when we were growing up. There will be many times when a missionary is called to put the needs of strangers and his family before his personal needs.
- Service – A missionary has to be willing to get his hands dirty. Sometimes the dirt is literal and sometimes not, but you have to be willing to model Jesus by your service to others
- Encouragement – You will need to be an encouraging light to those around you. Discouragement is one of Satan’s favorite tools. A missionary must not only know how to stay encouraged himself, but be able to encourage others.
- Motivation – A missionary needs to know how to motivate others to obey God. Often this involves wisdom and enthusiasm as well.
- Counsel – Missionaries are often asked to counsel people through their problems. Counseling requires godly wisdom and often some training. Effective counseling will draw people towards God.
- Integrity – It is important to live a life of integrity yourself to set an example for others. We all sin – even missionaries – modeling repentance is important too – but a missionary must do whatever he can to model godly behavior so others know what to do. We may think traits like honesty are intuitive, but if you live where no one is honest, knowing what honest “looks like” can be a struggle.
You know my favorite thing about Greg’s list? Absolutely everything on it applies to everyone living the Christian life. Actually we all sign on to be missionaries when we become a Christian. For some of us, it may mean moving thousands of miles from anything familiar. For most of us, it means walking across the street or driving across town.
So whether you picture your child serving God in another country or in her own backyard, it is important to help your children develop these characteristics and skills. I can’t wait to hear what your kids do with God wherever their mission field is!