10 Personality flaws that make missionaries wildly successful

The Stupidest Man EverFor all their warts missionaries embody the abundant that most of us only read about. And if you think that ship has sailed for you, take heart. Most missionaries miss the boat too.

People will devour any “10 Traits” or “7 Habits” that lead to a life less ordinary. But since “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, [and] what is weak in the world to shame the strong” (1 Corinthians 1:27) here’s how God saves fantastically flawed people from being total flops.

1. Missionaries are isolationists

You really start living when you presume God’s power over everything. Everything. But getting there mentally means knowing Him — really, truly knowing Him. Intimacy.

Intimacy means togetherness, communion… oneness.

Intimacy requires isolation. Couples can’t double date all the time and expect to really know each other. Missionaries don’t let other people or things breach their personal intimacy with God.

Intimacy leads to worship and adoration. “Come unto me” Jesus says, if you really want to know Me. “Abide (or live) in me, and [let] my words abide in you” if you crave being alive.

Missionaries become indifferent to circumstances. They shut out the noise, the distractions. This makes them mission-ready.

2. Missionaries are obsessive-compulsive

What consumes you?

Missionaries have one consuming thought: the eternal significance of Jesus Christ as atonement for our sin.

It’s their message.

In 1 Corinthians 2:2 the Apostle Paul wrote, “For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified…”

He went on to say, “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16)

Missionaries aren’t devoted to doing the good things Jesus did, or to His power, or His healing, or even to becoming like Him. They are devoted to Jesus. Period.

Saturated in Christ, missionaries absorb His character, willing to be squeezed out by God’s hand anywhere He sees fit.

3. Missionaries are always begging for backup

Missionaries waste no time persuading the unpersuadable. They spend no energy trying to convert others of their point of view. And missionaries never attempt to modify people’s behavior, attempting to civilize them or make them suitable for salvation.

Sin’s corruption and desolation of the world yields a harvest for God through the crises it produces in people’s lives. Missionaries aren’t preoccupied with ancillary busywork around the edges of the ripened fields where some are satisfied to piddle around and bring in almost nothing.

Missionaries plea for others to be heaved out into the harvest to reap it. (Matthew 9:35-38)

4. Missionaries aren’t results-oriented

Prayer is often a last resort, a therapeutic exercise for accepting and coping with hopeless circumstances.

“Well, all we can do now is pray.”

Prayer isn’t all we can do; it’s everything we can do! It’s not token activity for those who can’t or won’t do real work.

Prayer is the lifeblood of missionary work, directly connecting us to God, and it’s only enabled by salvation. Prayer unleashes salvation in the lives of others. But the catch is, only the prayers of naive children get answered, not those of perceptive adults.

Jesus have said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Luke 10:2, emphasis added)

The Bible teaches us to “struggle” in prayer (Colossians 4:12). The original language says to “agonize.” Jesus was quite familiar with agony in prayer, to the point of sweating blood (Luke 22:44).

Prayer isn’t glamorous work. But it’s the hard labor of a worker that transforms the drawings of an architect into a skyscraper.

Missionaries know that prayer is the catalyst for the kingdom.

5. Missionaries are extraordinarily ordinary

Loving God means His concerns become your concerns. And He asks, “Do you love me?… Feed my sheep.” (John 21:17)

It’s a simple cause-and-effect, but it can only result from a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit in us. It’s not there naturally.

The missionary’s life stands ready to be poured out as nourishment to a thirsty, famished world. And that happens every time they cross paths with its starving refugees famished of God’s grace.

Nourishing others is only possible by living disconnected from everything that entangles everyday people. Missionaries connect to Christ.

This doesn’t make them superheros. They’re completely ordinary — often deficient as people — except that they’re nourished directly from the True Vine (John 15:4-5).

It’s a radical devotion to Jesus, whose strength is made perfect in their weakness (2 Corinthians 12:7-9). God is able to use missionaries in extraordinary ways.

6. Missionaries are useless to most people

Incessant work is the biggest enemy of Christ in us and in the world today.

Missionaries won’t lift a finger or spend an ounce of energy on conventional activities and programs that attempt to befriend the world.

They believe “friendship with the world is enmity with God” and “whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (James 4:4)

Missionaries know that the real work of the Lord is done in the unsafe places in life — the dirty daily drudgery of valley of the shadow of death.

Like soldiers, missionaries anticipate deployment — maybe to the pit, maybe to the pinnacle. In either theater of operations only the elite in Christ, trained in the fundamentals of Redemption, won’t break under the burden.

The whole of the kingdom of God flows from the personal relationship with Jesus Christ. When things fall apart, our loyalty to Christ is as solid as our intimacy with Him will allow it to be.

7. Missionaries are delusional

Missionaries are convinced of one reality, and one reality only.

They are slaves to Christ and co-heirs to His kingdom.

As such they view themselves as untouchable and as unstoppable as the God they serve. There is no authority over them except that which God allows. Nor can anyone thwart their mission of mercy and grace, even by way of death.

It’s really ridiculous! Not to mention completely annoying to most people!

Missionaries take seriously the notion that they have been “bought with a price” by Jesus (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, 7:23).

The Apostle Paul, perhaps the greatest missionary who ever lived, referred to himself using the Greek word “doulos” (Romans 1:1). It literally means “slave.”

Harass them, persecute them, even kill them. Missionaries still see themselves riding Jesus’ coattails in eternal triumph.

They will fall limp and lifeless into shallow, unmarked graves claiming victory.

According to Henry Blackaby, Experiencing God means you “Don’t just do something, stand there!”

8. Missionaries are easily manipulated

Missionaries think one thought: Christ and His death as payment for the sin of mankind. (1 Corinthians 2:2)

It’s not just their obsession, it’s who they are. They internalize that message; they consume it like food (Psalm 119:103; Jeremiah 15:16; Romans 7:22; 1 Peter 2:2-3). Christ, the Word of God made flesh (John 1:1-2; John 1:14), even goes so far as to call Himself the “bread of life” (John 6:48), and instructs His disciples to figuratively “eat” His body and “drink” his blood (Luke 22:19-20).

Missionaries don’t just preach this message; they become the message. They become Jesus, the Word of God, nourishment, to a lost and dying world.

But the moment Christ is dislodged from the forefront of a missionary’s he becomes misshapen, and is rendered useless to God. So missionaries constantly endure the sculpting, massaging hand of God which batters, breaks, and chisels them into the image of Jesus.

Then God can say of them, as He said of Christ: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” (Matthew 17:5)

9. Missionaries lack sympathy

Sometimes the primary objective of missionary work can become the edification of the people.

The gospel is often packaged for delivery in things like feeding the hungry, treating the sick, or schooling the uneducated — all noble and worthy efforts that can be vehicles for the gospel.

The problem is when the needs of the people trump the call of God.

The command of Jesus to “Go therefore…” shouldn’t be fueled by sympathy for the needy. Because the instruction to “…make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:18-20) can be lost in ceaseless activity. The unfortunate byproduct is that human ingenuity can be credited with superficial successes instead of God being glorified for a genuine harvest.

The missionary’s first loyalty is to Christ, not to people and their problems. The mind of God engineers their circumstances (Psalm 37:23), and their childlike faith makes them just foolish enough to respond with reckless abandon.

10. Missionaries are foolish

The world thinks they’re crazy. They seem to have given up on life. And they accomplish very little of substance. They appear weak. And their lives are fraught with turmoil because of their unyielding devotion to Christ.

Yet missionaries remain inexorably passionate for the salvation of hostile and indifferent people.

They continue on, believing “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to [Jesus],” their Master. They obey His command to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” And they bank on His promise that “I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

When facing immovable mountains wherein Jesus asks, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” their foolishly unshakable reply is “Yes, Lord.” (Matthew 9:28)

Who’s surprised when He responds, “According to your faith be it done…” (Matthew 9:29)?

In what ways do you think like a missionary?

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