We recently asked our missionaries to reminisce and send some advice regarding their first ninety days on the field. Over the next couple of weeks we will be publishing their responses on our site, Missions.Today. Below is a list of the compilation of testimonies. Links will be added to each as they are published.
Galatians 2:20-21. All leaders must first learn to be followers.
- Know your position in Christ. You are dead. Christ died for us, but also as us. He became your sin. Romans 6:1-11. Remember that you are dead, or you will forget Who is really in charge of your life.
- Understand Christ’s position in you. He is alive. Your master is no longer sin and self, but Christ. You must reckon that His life is living in you. Because He is alive in you, you who are dead can live eternally. The branch has no life without the vine.
- Determine your life’s direction through Him. Let Him make all of the decisions. Learn to hear His voice as He speaks intuitively in your spirit. Nothing can replace your fellowship with Him, as it is through this close relationship that you will come to know His will. I Corinthians 10:13.
- Never forget what was done for you by Him. He loves you. It is arrogant to assume any leadership position in which we forget our position in Him.
- Stay out of the way. Paul wrote that he would not frustrate, or set aside, the grace of God by living in the energy of the flesh. Anything done in the energy of our flesh is a failure. You must have His power in your life, or you can accomplish nothing.
Tips for keeping your ministry in focus.
In Colossians 4:17, Paul urged Archippus to take heed to the ministry, that he fulfill it. We too must take heed to our ministry. We must look out for dangers, live up to our calling, and labor on in the work God has given to us.
- Be Honorable. In II Samuel 17 and 19, David did not stop to engage Shimei. Though he was physically in the valley being beaten down, yet he took the high road spiritually and rather than lingering over a problem, kept moving forward on his course.
- Be Humble. Jeremiah 9:23-24 admonishes us to boast only in the Lord. Paul on two different occasions, once in relation to church membership and once in relation to the measure of ministry, instructed the Corinthians not to boast in themselves. We must heap the glory to the Lord.
- Be Holy. I Timothy 3:1-7. Review often your calling, to be sure you are living up to it. Genesis 39 gives a great example from Joseph’s life. He realized that even if he were to get away with something in man’s eyes, he could never hide sin from God.
- Be Helpful. Paul’s desire in II Timothy 4:9-13 was for companionship, comfort, co-laborers, and a cloak. Timothy, still active and busy in the ministry, could have passed this chance to be a help to Paul, who was in prison. Yet he was helpful. Always be a friend to your friends, especially when they are going through a rough situation.
- Be Hopeful. Just as Abraham in Romans 4:20 did not stagger at the promises of God, we too must hope against hope and trust in God’s promises. His hope is recorded for our sake, that we too might believe. Don’t give up hope. Keep serving.
Tips for proper parental provoking unto good works.
- Set short term goals, don’t have unreachable goals.
- Set the example, don’t have unlived standards.
- Have sensible rules, not unreasonable ones.
- Be satisfied with your children’s individualism, rather than using unattainable comparisons.
- Specify your promises, and do not have unkept promises.
- Be sensitive in your speech, rather than using unkind teasing.
- Share your love, and do not show unfair favoritism.
- Use special recognition, and do not allow achievements to go unrewarded.
- Be willing to sacrifice for the good of your children, and do not force unwanted sacrifices on them. Do not make the child feel that your sacrifices for them are a burden.
- Use sweet selfless correction, rather than unloving discipline.
- Show forgiveness, rather than exemplifying an unforgiving attitude.
- Sing the praises of your children; do not give way to unproductive discouragement.
- Use self control, rather than uncontrolled anger.
Tips for dealing with depression both on the road and on the field.
God’s people are not exempt from moments that can cause depression. We must anticipate that they will come, and have a system in place to deal with trials so we can avoid depression. (Ps. 42:5-6)
- Build a support team for your family. Discouragement comes from unrealistic expectations – your friends may not know how to help you. Find close friends and tell them ways they can practically help and encourage your family.
- Accept the reality of your field. Your actual service on the field will likely be quite different from what you thought when you were on deputation. Remember that you surrendered to God, not to a job description.
- Don’t allow your joy to be tied to those around you. Stay away from those who are negative about your field or the people to whom you minister.
- Refocus your love on Christ and His church. Show your care for pastors and churches you visit. Do not expect them to care for and support you, if you are not interested in their ministry as well.
- Think less of yourself than you do. Unrealistic expectations of yourself will bring discouragement. Stay close to the One Who exceeds all expectations.
Tips for dealing with families when traveling.
You will spend hours on the road. Learn to enjoy the journey.
- Priority of Faith. (Phil. 1:21) There is no past or future in life, we must always live in the present tense. Your convictions and values should not change on the road. Stay hot spiritually while traveling, and do not neglect your study and preparation.
- Preparation of Family. (Gen. 33:13-14) You cannot drive your family as hard as you would yourself. Prepare them for situations they will face. Everything that happens on the road is a chance to teach a spiritual lesson.
- Purposeful Flexibility. (Is. 28:16) Surrender your self ambition and let God take care of your schedule. Plan every day in view of your ministry, but remember that the biggest spiritual lessons you will learn are taught when God re-arranges your plans.
- Pastor Must be Followed. He is the overseer of that church, and you must yield to his direction. Be content with the time he gives you, cooperate to fulfill his plan, and communicate with his people.
- People and Friendship. (Rom. 16:3-24) Friendships will yield support and prayer warriors. If you are not a ‘people person’ ask God to change your heart, or get out of the ministry. The ministry is people!
Tips for remaining true to who we are.
We are Independent Fundamental Baptists by affirmation and association. We must embrace this in our modern world. It is possible to have a right position and sweet disposition at the same time. It is one thing to speak of standards, and another to take the time to teach and explain the Biblical reason behind the standard.
- Don’t change your music. (Ps. 40:3) The first sign of a shift in theology is often deciding that music is amoral. Our song must be praise to God – something based on what He likes, not our preference. The result of our music should be that others will fear God.
- Don’t change your dress standards. There should be gender distinction in both dress and hair. (Deut. 22:5; Isaiah 47:1-2) There should be modesty displayed in orderliness, respectfulness, and self-control. (I Tim. 2:9)
- Don’t change your name. (Acts 11:26) The name Christian was given as a derision. The name Baptist was a term of ridicule. Yet, by these names we are identified with a heritage of those who have given their blood for the convictions represented by those terms. Don’t be ashamed of the name, even if others may have dishonored it.
- Don’t change your associations. (II Cor. 6:14-17) We must not be unequally yoked. Ecclesiastical separation is still Biblical.
- Don’t change your Bible. (Is. 59:20-21) God promised to preserve His Word for each generation – there could not have been a gap where manuscripts were lost for thousands of years. Varying translations give an uncertainty in whether we can know what God really said. (Prov. 22:20-21) God’s Word is certain!
Tips to remind us of our accountability in the work of Christ.
As a missionary you work for yourself and by yourself, but you are not without authority and accountability. (Rom. 14:10-12)
- You are accountable to God. (I Cor. 3:9-15) It is a humbling thought to realize that we labor together with God in His work. We are unworthy, yet He has deemed it so. Fellowship with God’s people is wonderful, but nothing can take the place of fellowship with God.
- You are accountable to your sending church. (Acts 13; 14:27) Remain faithful to your sending church, and do not seek to destroy the church that commissioned you. Recognize your pastor’s authority in your ministry.
- You are accountable to the mission agency.
- You are accountable to your supporting churches. (I Cor. 16:1-3) Paul reported back on what he was accomplishing with funds they had provided. You must communicate with your supporters.
- You are accountable to your family. (Acts 21:8-9) Philip was not too busy in ministry to forget his family. If you lose your family, you will lose your ministry.
Tips for the proper usage of social networking by missionaries. (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
Life and death are in the power of the tongue. The internet is a tool that can expand your circle of influence, yet it must be used correctly in order to be effective. If used incorrectly it can do far more damage than good for the cause of Christ.
- Post Permanently. Remember that what you post will have a lasting effect. Once posted online, it can never be truly withdrawn.
- Post Prudently. Redeem the time. Don’t neglect those you are physically with. Set a timer if needed in order to set boundaries for yourself.
- Post Positively. Write things that are uplifting and edifying. Keep personal things personal by using email or personal messaging, not public posts. Use your profile as a positive outreach to share good websites, books, sermons, quotes, etc. Don’t be contentious – this is not the place for debates.
- Post Parallel. Your online presence should be the same as the real you. Be consistent in private and in public.
- Post Precautiously. Be wary when accepting friends and followers. If you do not know the person, what purpose do they have for following you? If you do know the person, be cautious of intimate relationships. Brag about your family and what they mean to you, so others will not get the idea that you are seeking a more fulfilling relationship online. Allow your spouse access to read any communication with those of the opposite gender.
Tips for remaining godly in a godless world.
We preach godliness and expect it of others, but are we really godly?
- We must have a right attitude. Whether we live or die our desire must be to be with God. We must comfort, strengthen, and edify the brethren.
- We must have respect toward the Word of God, the call God has given us, those we labor with, the churches we visit, the ministry of others and our own ministry. Remember that your ministry is not a one man show – there are others involved! Don’t be at war or competition with others, be at peace.
- We must have a readiness to warn the unruly, comfort the feeble minded, support the weak, and be patient towards all. We must be prepared in advance so that we can minister in these areas. To be holy as God is holy, you must always take the side of the Scripture.
- We must rejoice and pray always. These two go hand in hand. Godliness is pursued through prayer, and you will not come out of the presence of God murmuring about anything. We are the only people on the earth with a real reason to be happy.
- We must be grateful for the Holy Spirit’s conviction, instruction, and work in our lives; for the Word of God; and for the privilege of involvement in the ministry.