As you begin thinking about being an international missionary, take some time ask yourself some questions- where are my strengths, where do I need to grow, am I living on mission now, do I have affirmation from my elders, etc. Below are two tools that should help you do a self-assessment as you think about serving overseas. Process these results with your community group leader or local elder and ask them to help you grow in these areas.
Being a cross-cultural missionary is a high calling. With this calling comes a need to examine oneself and begin developing a plan to grow in areas that make you more like Christ and equip you to be the most effective servant as possible. Before your assessment interview, take some time to ask yourself the following questions. Where are you excelling and where do you need to grow?
The following are the three key areas for missionary preparedness:
Knowing: Knowing God, His Word & His Mission.
1. Do you have a deep understanding of the Bible- the unfolding of the redemptive story, general concepts, and major themes? Are you able to study the Bible for yourself and teach it to others?
2. Do you have a good understanding of theology? Are you able to articulate these truths and teach them to others?
3. Do you have a good understanding of global missions including biblical themes, history, best practices, current trends, practical issues and definitions of major concepts?
4. Do you have a good understanding of the world outside of America including world geography, different cultures, global trends and the state of the global church?
Being: Being Transformed into the Image of Christ
1. Are you practicing a planned and consistent devotional life personally and for your family? How can you grow in this area?
2. Are being intentional to love and serve your wife, children and friends? Are you living in open and transparent community with other believers?
3. Do you consistently practice the disciplines of abiding in Christ, confession of sin, solitude, rest, self-denial and humility?
4. Do you meet the qualifications laid out for elders and deacons in 1 Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-16? Which of these do you need to grow in?
5. What emotional baggage do you still carry with you from your past? What are sin struggles you have dealt with in the past and what are the sins you currently struggling with?
6. What are character weakness that you see in your own life?
Doing: Doing the Work of Ministry and Multiplication
1. Have your skills, leadership and calling been test in the context of the local church? What has this looked like? How are you growing in these areas?
2. Are you living the life of a missionary here in your current context? Are sharing the Gospel with people on a regular basis? Are you discipling believers toward maturity?
3. Do you have significant experience in an international context? Have you spent time overseas (more than short-term trips?) Are you in relationships with internationals in your current context?
4. Outside of ministry skills; what experience, assets and skills do you have to offer? This might include degrees, work history, hobbies, life experience, etc.
Characteristics of a Healthy Missionary
The key aspect of a healthy missionary’s life (or any believer) is to have Christ at the center. Everything in life is rooted in and finds life in Him. From having a Christ-like character and seeking to continually abide with Christ, all of the other traits of a missionary flow from and are connected to this one concept.
Look over the 11 traits of a healthy missionary. Which ones are you strong in and which ones are you weak in? Begin now to sharpen your strengths and grow in your weak areas.
* This chart is adapted from Nate Irwin’s chart “Characteristics of an Ideal Missionary”. Adapted with permission. Please cite Sojourn International and/or Nate Irwin when using this chart and its concepts.