You are a young Jesus-follower with big dreams and an even bigger heart. You have been called to go into all the nations and preach the Gospel. The transformational love of Christ has changed you and now you want nothing more than to see it change others. You know that you are called to missions, so the only question that remains is this:
When should I go?
How do you know when you are ready to go to the mission field? In order to find the answer to this, you must first ask yourself a few very important questions…
Is your passion for ministry unrelenting?
A ministry career is different than any other occupation because it seeks eternal rewards rather than immediate earthly satisfaction. While this specific calling is never going to be easy, John Piper encourages us that it will be worth it when he says the following:
“God is pursuing with omnipotent passion a worldwide purpose of gathering joyful worshipers for Himself from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. He has an inexhaustible enthusiasm for the supremacy of His name among the nations. Therefore, let us bring our affections into line with His, and, for the sake of His name, let us renounce the quest for worldly comforts and join His global purpose.” – John Piper
Your passion for seeing other people’s lives changed is going to be the fuel that keeps you going. Ministry is one of the hardest careers to have because, as your friends and family pursue careers that are going to lead them to financial stability and success, you are giving up everything in pursuit of a life of servanthood.
One important thing to consider as you begin to pursue this calling is that, if/when your time of ministry comes to an end, you will not be left “normally” qualified for much else. Many missionaries have even expressed concern that, once they leave the mission field, they will not be able to find a job in the “real-world”. All of this is to say that as you pursue a position in full-time ministry, you need to make sure that you are doing so in pursuit of your calling rather than just a career, for only the passion of your calling will sustain you.
Do you have personal integrity?
As you are discerning when to go to the mission field, you must first take a close look at your own heart and life. One of the most important factors in having a successful ministry is having a walk that matches your talk. Do you have a good reputation with those who know you? It has been said that actions speak louder than words – are your actions matching up with the words you speak? For without integrity and a teachable spirit, your ministry will suffer.
“The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.” – Proverbs 11:3
Do you have a good support team behind you?
Are there people in your life who are encouraging you and supporting your call to missions? These people are going to become your full-time support team (financially, spiritually, etc.) later on. You want to make sure that, before you head out to the field, you have a strong team of people behind you who believe in you and in your calling. Their support (partnered with the Lord’s grace and direction) is what will grant you success as a full-time missionary.
As you answer these questions for yourself, it is important to remember that our direction ultimately comes from the Lord. In all things, He works for our good – He only asks us to trust Him and to walk in His timing. Carly Mott, a member of Bethany Church who is pursuing full-time missions, gives the following advice:
“What I can say without a doubt is that man makes his plans, but ultimately GOD DIRECTS his path. I’ve seen this time and time again in my own life. I would encourage those who are wondering about the timing to begin praying for obedience and wisdom to know God’s timing. God is faithful, He knows the desires of our hearts, and He cares deeply. Trust Him, talk to Him, and learn to listen in the stillness for His voice (sometimes a whisper, other times a joyful shout).” – Carly Mott