Only a few short years ago, I was considered a full-time missionary and spent much of my time surrounded by other Christians who were actively living out the lifestyle that comes alongside mission-related work.
Often when we hear about missionaries, we picture Christians who dropped everything and moved overseas to a new location to share the gospel, when in reality there’s many other avenues that can be taken.
Although missionary life can take on many different forms, the core mindset is focused on furthering the Kingdom and sharing His love with others. For some this looks like active evangelism, and for others it may instead be serving communities in need.
This all to say, I’ve now been living in “normal” life again for the past couple of years, and as of late I’ve noticed how much I’ve lost that precious missionary mindset.
What exactly is the mindset of a missionary that we should hold in the day to day, and how do we keep that in the forefront of our thoughts?
Through the motions
In some places I’ve visited, the “small town charm” is practically flooring. You can hardly buy a pack of gum without somehow sharing your life story with the checkout clerk. Everyone seems warm, up to genuine conversation, and has a sincere interest in one another’s lives. In places like these, I find it much easier to share my faith, or to simply see God’s children as He does, if even for a moment.
Yet, in the town my husband and I currently live in, while there is the odd exception of course, most citizens (myself included) seem absorbed in their own tasks. Everyone buzzes about, hurriedly completing the necessary tasks just trying to stay out of everyone’s way.
It’s much easier to go with the flow and get caught up in this individualized style of life and miss out on serving or simply speaking to others around us.
I’m amazed at how quickly my mind seems to have lost that missionary mindset and adapted back into routine life, going about my own business forgetting to listen to the Holy Spirit’s guidance in even the most mundane moments.
What is the mission’s mindset?
As I previously mentioned, missionary life is different for everyone and varies to a great deal.
For me, what comes to mind when I think about the mindset held during active missionary work comes from one of my most intense experiences to date. A group of us spent nearly three months travelling in the Philippines as missionaries doing a variety of tasks, from street evangelism, to speaking at schools and volunteering at orphanages.
Either way, no matter what our task was for the day, we were actively in the mindset of missionaries. We were seeking for people to share the love of God with, listening to the Holy Spirit for direction, and spending the majority of our time serving others.
Then, about once a week we’d have a day off to ourselves. After a few weeks, I’d noticed how instantly my flesh seemed to take over on these days off, and how my actions had done a 180 overnight. Suddenly, I wasn’t in the mindset of loving and serving others or obeying the Holy Spirit when I felt the push to do or say something because it was a “day off”.
Back to Jesus’ message
Lately, I feel as though I’ve been on one long “day off” as I described, where I’m simply acting out of selfishness and forgetting the simple examples Jesus set for us as believers.
While we may not be called to spend 24 hours a day evangelizing in the street, we are called to love and serve others, just as Jesus did at a moment’s notice. It’s such a simple concept, and yet it’s so easy to forget when the celebrated culture of “busyness” takes over.
One of the simplest remedies I’ve found is to return to the gospel as often as possible. Jesus’ life provides such a beautiful model for us to follow after, even if we aren’t in full time missionary work, we are still able to exemplify His love in all that we do.
Maintaining a missionary mindset means asking Him to open your eyes and ears to what’s happening around you. Is there needs you can assist with, or ostracized people needing acceptance? Whatever it may be, He will lead you to it, all we need to do is simply say, “yes.”
Miranda Menelaws is a Canadian freelance writer. During her spare time, she can be found travelling the globe in search of a new story to tell or writing about her adventures on her blog.
Miranda Menelaws’s previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/miranda-menelaws.html