Confessions of a Career Missionary…

nataliaaaWritten September 22, 2014 by Natalia Lebo, intern in Uganda

 

I’ve been thinking a lot about what it’s like to be a missionary. Making the decision to go to Bible School and then give my life to full-time missions has been the best decision I have ever made. I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I continued on the “regular” path.

Well, I guess I can imagine. I would be in my last year of university, and I would be on my way to being a counselor, a dance instructor, a doctor, or whatever other position I wanted to find myself in as a wandering youth. But it did not happen that way. God sent me on a mission trip and totally changed my mind about everything in an instant. I went from college applications to dreaming about what people group I would dedicate my life to. I gave up thinking about how much money I would make and started thinking about how many lives I could touch, and hopefully even bring to heaven with me. God gave me a calling and while it was hard to embrace at first, I knew that it fit perfectly and going ahead with it was my only option.

But now I am here. I am in the position titled “missionary”, and I wonder, “so what?” I did what I was supposed to do, I went to Bible School, I went on mission trips, and now I am serving my internship in Uganda, the precursor to my career. But what makes that so special? It is not as if I entered the border and began to glow with glory, or that as soon as I entered ministry, I gave up sleeping and eating for the sake of the Gospel, or that when I touch orphans they automatically have knowledge and finances to complete their schooling and make something of themselves. Of course, you know this and the fact that I am even mentioning it probably seems a bit ridiculous and unnecessary to you. But I say this because it is easy to elevate people in ministry and think that super amazing things are happening every second. (In a sense, amazing things are happening every second, but not because of me or any other human, but just because of the simple fact that God is working all the time.) The point is that my life has ups and downs, times of silence and mundane days, and it has times of success and joy. My life is actually pretty normal.

I grew up thinking missionaries and people associated with ministry were superhuman; heroes, in fact. But now that I am one, I think we’re just humans, doing what God has called us to. Sure, I’m reminded more than most of my humanity and my weakness. I am constantly forced out of my comfort zone because if I’m going to preach something, I have to actually practice it. But still, I wake up, I eat, do devotions, go to work, spend time with friends, go to church, grocery shopping, even to get my hair done on occasion. I love my life the way I, specifically, was meant to. Ministry is my life, but being in ministry still involves living, with human struggle, emotion, and responsibility. Although I cannot say I would be satisfied with a “normal” life according to worldly standards, this is merely out of preference and calling and my life is still normal with normal activities and functions. I can’t say that I don’t experience things that most people don’t, like travel and constant culture shock, and constant supernatural activity. These things to me are also normal but they are in no way better than your normal, they are no better than your job at the supermarket, or the bank, or the neighborhood school, or the doctor’s office. I serve my purpose and you serve yours.

God can call you to anything, but He can’t call you to everything. I say this because I hear a lot of people say, “you’re doing what really matters, you are helping people, you are changing things, I wish I could do that.” The thing is, I help people, but so can you, and I think most of you do. You change people, sometimes without even knowing it. It sounds cliché to say that you can be a missionary wherever you are… But it’s true and it’s up to you to take advantage of that position. As Christians, we are all called to share the Gospel wherever we go, but we’re also called to live the life God has called us to. Live your life. Don’t put your Christian responsibilities in a box and separate them from your daily functions, thinking you need to switch back and forth. Combine them and see that you are probably right where you’re supposed to be, serving the life that you should.

And if you think that you’re not, start searching. Is God calling you to full time ministry? Maybe. But know that it’s not for everyone, just like college isn’t for everyone, or being a doctor, or a teacher, or a manager, etc. Know that we need stay at home mommies and psychologists and authors, financial advisors, and painters, all with a Christian mindset. We need our influence in every aspect of culture if we want to make an impact. And to me, you’re all in ministry, too. Yes, in a different way, but I wouldn’t be opposed to receiving newsletters about how you raised your children this week and how you prayed for someone by the coffee maker in the break room. In fact, I would welcome it. We are all in this beautiful body of Christ, so let’s support each other, minister to each other, and cheer each other on so that we can be at peace and be effective.

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