So, you wanna be a missionary…

Despite the fact that I have made my failings at being a missionary quite clear, younger folks still ask me for advice pretty often. It’s like they go, “I have questions about being a missionary. Hmmm… I know! I’ll ask the very worst one!” …. Ooookaay.

So here’s the Very Worst Missionary’s Very Best Advice for Missionarying:

Are you ready for it? 

Get a job!

Then? Work the hell out of that job for three years.

Honestly, this is the best advice I can give you.

I know. So disappointing.

But here’s why:

A “real job” – yes, that’s what people in ministry call work outside of the church. Scary! – anyway, a real job will teach you things you’ll need to know in the mission field. Important stuff, like work ethic, sustainability, productivity, and value.

A real job can expose you to real conflict management (and not the shitty “Christian” kind they’ll teach in missionary training. Honestly. Our track record at dealing with conflict is pretty horrible).

A real job will teach you to live on a real budget. Because if you say to your real boss, “Hey, can I have some more money for a new car this week?” They’ll say “Um…No.” And then you’ll have to save your money, like a normal person, and buy the car later. Or not buy the car. … I know. It’s cRaZy!

A real job will help you learn not to be an entitled, self-righteous bunghole. Because if you act like that at a real job, they will kick your ass to the curb.

A real job will help you understand time management. Because, your real schedule will not likely allow you to spend three hours every Friday afternoon with your friends or your kids, – even if you call it “discipleship” on Facebook. Actually, that reminds me, your real job won’t let you call any time you spend on Facebook “work”. Not “support development”, not “communication”, not “team building”… Nope. No matter how you say it, Real Job does not approve.

A real job will allow you to support a missionary. Yeah. You should know how that feels.

But, most important?… A real job is a real mission field. So learn some freakin’ respect.

And the other thing I tell people is this (and it’s a doozie!):

Understand the difference between wanderlust and
 wanting to be a missionary.

The world is AMAZING! God’s creation is simply ASTOUNDING! It should be seen and respected. But there is a big difference between seeing and serving. And the Church does not exist to fulfill your desire to see the world.

I totally believe that this planet, this place God spoke into being, deserves our reverence. If it’s calling out to you, then go, and revere it with all your heart! But don’t use the Church to pay your way. And don’t use your participation in weak or broken ministry as a means to collect stamps in your passport.

Get a job. Save your money. And then take a trip to somewhere incredible. Trust me, your tourist dollars will be greatly appreciated!

And this is where I bail, because, beyond what I’ve just said, I think the journey to becoming a missionary is highly unique and personal. It’s spirit-led, prayer dependent, driven by hard work and perseverance, and it’s not always awesome or easy.

If you still want to be a missionary, then maybe it’s time for you to find a healthy ministry (which means asking lots of good questions and being mindful of the answers) and ask themhow you can get on board with what they’re doing.

That’s my advice. ….What?! I never said it would be good advice. 

So, Blessings as you go. 

To work.

Aaaat a real job.  😉 

….         …..        ….

Have you ever wanted to be a missionary? ~ OR ~ Got any advice for wannabe missionaries? 



  1. Don Schroeder on September 28, 2018 at 7:03 am

    My wife and I are m’s. in one of those far away countries. Our pastor at home referred to your book in one of his recent sermons. My wife sent me this link and so I read your advice above.

    I 100% agree that the best thing that a person can do, right out of high school, or right out of college, is to get a job. I 100% agree.

    I 1000% disagree that you need to use f***, (and its varient’s) to effectively communicate with whoever you are talking/writing to.

    I am pretty far from being a prude, and pretty far from being a self-righteous finger pointer, but that word is really a crude word. It is more than crude, but that is a good place to start.

    I raised 3 daughters. (In the country I work in, only son’s really have value, so I am usually a pretty big failure at the beginning of any relationship with a local married person who at least could make 1 son.) If I EVER used that word around any one of my daughters, they would freak out and be grossed out.

    I have only been an m for 18 years. I was an environmental engineer for 20 some years before then, and supported a number of m’s during that time.

    Yeah, I have no fantasy that you will “see the error of your ways” with my meager words, but it’s just a bad word to use and to think that it is cute, or funny, or necessary, or appropriate, or what ever the hell you are thinking, I 1000% think some day, somebody, who you might really respect, will tell you the same thing. (Yeah, hell is an OK word. Not to use around my 6 grand children, (the first 4 were grand daughters) but OK among us adults.)

  2. Don Schroeder on September 28, 2018 at 7:07 am

    Oh yea, here’s a PS that will really depricate (hope that’s a word) any possible impact that what I wrote might have, but:

    PS I would like to buy you a new tee shirt that you could wear for your pictures.

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