During my senior year of college, I faced quite possibly the biggest decision of my life up to that point. I had two options: stay near my hometown of Chicago to find a job or move halfway across the world to do campus ministry.
Chicago was safe. It was comfortable. I could find a job, have a salary, see my family every weekend if I needed to, worship with a thriving church community, and maybe most importantly, eat at Chipotle anytime I wanted.
Or I could give it all up.
Most people thought my biggest fears would be the new culture, the new language, the new food, the rejection, the lack of family, or the lack of fast food. I knew those things would be hard, but deep down in my soul, they weren’t what was holding me back.
I was afraid of failure.
I felt unworthy.
I felt inadequate.
I felt like a poser.
I wasn’t afraid of failure on the mission field. I had been trained for years to do campus ministry, and I could walk through the motions in my sleep.
I was afraid of failing on a personal level.
I thought all of the other missionaries would be so much holier than me. I was afraid I would be alone in my deep sin struggles. I feared I would be the only person on the team who sometimes wakes up without the urge to share my faith with everyone I meet.
Here’s why you shouldn’t share my fear: I was wrong.
Missionaries are people. Missionaries are simply followers of Jesus in a different culture. Missionaries are sinners.
They weren’t super humans who have figured out the secret to perfectly living the Christian life. They weren’t scary to approach. They weren’t flawlessly bringing people to Christ every day.
They were just like me.
They got homesick.
They confessed some of the same sins I did.
They did things in their past they weren’t proud of.
They wished more people would email them.
They felt lonely when looking at social media.
They missed western food.
They longed to see their families.
Is that what you picture when you think of missionaries? People with loads of faults and problems? People who sometimes don’t have everything under control?
It was probably my greatest fear. And it turned out to be completely false.
This truth speaks to the reality of the gospel. That we are a fallen people. That we daily look at the world and choose to serve ourselves before God. That we will never be as good as we want to be, or as God demands we be.
Yet, God still chooses to use us. Despite our weaknesses, our fears, our insecurities, God uses us to magnify Christ among people of every tongue, tribe, and nation.
God doesn’t use us because we are worthy, but because Jesus is worthy.
You are not perfect, but if you are anything like me, you don’t need to be reminded of that. You remind yourself everyday. You already pour heaps of guilt and condemnation on yourself.
But I have good news: you are not alone.
The gospel frees us to follow Christ into what He calls us to. For some, that is certainly to serve Him at home. To send and give to overseas missions. There is no shame in that at all. It is extremely glorifying to God.
However, he also calls some of us to serve Him overseas among unreached people. To go.
Don’t believe the lie that you are not good enough. You are just like missionaries all over the world: you are broken. I am too.
How beautiful that this isn’t about how worthy you or me are. It’s about how worthy Jesus is.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
2 Corinthians 12:9