I Am Not Called to Be a Missionary (And That’s Okay)

I am not called to go into the missions field.

I don’t mean that I don’t respect missionaries. It’s a tremendous calling, and I believe wholeheartedly that the work of going forth and telling the nations is incredibly important. Nor do I mean that I am not called to evangelism. I want my life to display Christ, more of Him and less of me. Though I stumble and fail at this several times a day, I am still pushing on in this race that is set before me.

When I say I don’t want to go into the missions field, I mean that I have not been called to leave my life here in the States and go abroad to preach the gospel.

When I was younger, this made me feel extremely insecure. I felt, somehow, that I was not enough of a Christian because I did not want to go into missions. When I read the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20, I heard a condemnation for my lack of desire to spend my summers in the Dominican Republic or to work in faraway countries spreading the gospel.

My career goals are far from overseas missions work. Right now, I’m working on an undergraduate degree in economics and public administration, with the eventual goal of getting my graduate degree in economics and then working in policy analysis. This career is Christian in the sense that I am Christian, and I bring my faith into every aspect of my life – but it is not explicitly missionary work. And in the church, my work so far has been to listen, to pray, to encourage, and to bear my brothers’ and sisters’ burdens.

Because working in missions is not on that list, I have felt inferior, useless to the body. I have felt selfish and have prayed often that God would call me to missions instead of allowing me to wrestle with my seeming lack of calling. Instead, in His wisdom, He has brought me to the realization that while Christians are universally called to share the gospel, we are not all called to work as missionaries.

In Matthew 28, Jesus commands, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” He gave this call to eleven weary disciples, caught up in awe by the resurrection of their Lord and faced with the overwhelming task of spreading the good news to the whole world.

We, too, as his disciples, are called to “go therefore,” but not every single one of us must go to another nation to spread the good news. We are the salt and light of the world (Matthew 5:13-16), a chosen people that have received mercy (1 Peter 2:9-10), called to walk as children of light (Ephesians 5:8). Sometimes, that means walking in light right where He has planted us.

Just as we are not all called to be pastors or teachers or elders, we are not all called to be missionaries. “There are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone” (1 Corinthians 12:4-6). Wonderfully, God has pieced together a body of individuals with diverse gifts and bound us together as one for His glory, equipping each one to do His will.

Do you feel called to go to the farthest corners of the earth in order to spread the gospel and devote your life to missions? You are a member of the body. Do you feel called to get your MBA? To be a parent? To teach? To work in medicine? You, too, are a member of the body.

Your vocation is not all that you are. We are all called to go therefore, to teach others all that Christ has commanded and to walk as children of light – but we are not all called to do that in the same way. Our work is only one of our labels; Christian is our identity. And when Christian is our identity, when we truly do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus (Colossians 3:23), as members of His body in the church (1 Corinthians 12:27), our work will be to the glory of God – no matter what it is.

2 thoughts on “I Am Not Called to Be a Missionary (And That’s Okay)”

  1. Wow. This is the first time I have found someone who is candid about this and feels the same as I do. Thank you for writing about this and making me feel seen! Keep it up! Feel free to email me and maybe we can chat sometime @evmariee@gmail.com

    1. I’m so glad that you felt seen, Evelyn! God has called us in all different ways. I’ll be praying that He blesses you in your calling.

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