this follows on from my recent “missional” post a wee bit…i suppose i’ve been thinking about mission a lot recently and what it looks like and i’ve been reminded of an interview i heard at the front of a church a few years ago with a woman about her journey towards becoming a full time missionary. Let’s call her Deborah…
Deborah told of how for over 20 years she was the Personal Assistant of the General Director of a rather large corporation. She spoke of the eventual monotony of her job and how she sensed there was something more to life than simply this run of the mill job. Finally after two decades of this job of this “dead end job”, Deborah handed in her resignation and enrolled in full time study at a Bible College.
Following her studies, Deborah stepped into the much sought after land of full time Christian ministry. In fact, she managed to get a job with a well known and rather large Christian ministry. Deborah had finally answered the call of God upon her life to move into Christian service.
Deborah was applauded, thanked, encouraged and prayed for from the front. She was ensured that this particular group of people would continue to hold her in their prayers…particularly due to the nature of her missionary work.
And her role in this company? Her job description?
Wait for it…Personal Assistant to the General Director!!
Now don’t get me wrong, I loved Deborah, she was great. But when was she more a missionary? When she worked with a bloke who loved Jesus with everything He had? Or when she was rubbing shoulders with, assisting, aiding, working alongside and dealing with someone for 40 hours a week who didn’t know much about Jesus?
I always hear people say they feel called by God to be a pastor or an overseas missionary. I’ve rarely heard someone say that they’ve heard God call them to be a painter and decorator. Or a cleaner.
Maybe it’s because we have fooled ourselves into thinking that God’s value system goes something like this:
- Minister/Pastor/Preacher/Big name evangelist
- Overseas missionaries
- Full time workers for churches or missionary organisations: youth pastors, worship leaders, church planters etc.
- Those who make a difference in society: doctors, nurses, teachers etc.
- Everyone else
I believe this is a twisted view of God’s call upon our lives. And I suppose I feel quite uncomfortable writing this. Because I’m like Deborah. I work full time for a Christian ministry organisation and so that means I get described as a missionary by people in my church.
But I’m not convinced you see. In fact, I reckon that the lady in my church who helps school kids cross the road every morning is the missionary. I’m not.
Yet in my church I get prayed for publicly, affirmed audibly and encouraged eternally. Meanwhile hundreds of unsung heroes struggle to live their lives for Jesus, unsure if their ‘insignificant’ jobs and lives even matter and unaware of the difference God can make through them in the world.
For too long the majority of our churches have felt like second class citizens and second rate Christians. It’s time for the hidden heroes to be affirmed and celebrated, applauded and encouraged. It’s time for the real missionaries to be highlighted.