This article was written by one of our Mission Partners serving in South Asia.
Are there any good reasons for not serving God overseas?
You bet! There’s heaps: obligation, middle-class guilt, idealism, Saviour complexes, a thirst for adventure. And no doubt many more.
Motivations are funny things, aren’t they? More often than not we actually aren’t truly aware of what really is motivating us. Self-awareness is important for everyone, but even more so for mission partners. It’s so important that its a major thing that NZCMS personnel look for as they interview prospective mission partners.
“Hmmm” you might be thinking, “Surely there is no such thing as perfect motivation.” Am I a write-off as soon as something murky is discovered lurking in my motivational faculties?” Good question. What hope is there for those of us with mixed motivations?
If dodgy motivation is our topic of choice, there’s no better Biblical passage to explore than Matthew 20 (v20-21). The passage opens with two of the disciples (James and John) getting their Mum to ask Jesus a doozy of a request. “Give your word that these two sons of mine will be awarded the highest places of honour in your kingdom, one at your right hand, one at your left hand.”
This must be one of the most ridiculous requests of all time! And to make matters worse the brothers got their Mum to ask for them! Although the rest of the disciples get mad when they hear about this sneaky request (fair enough!), Jesus doesn’t. While on one hand, he calls their arrogance what it is (pivoting into a teaching point on humility), he seems to honour whatever good intention there was behind the request. Check out his answer (in verses 23-24) for yourself.
Jesus response to James and John’s poorly motivated request is 1. To gently call out the motivation for what is it, 2. To honour whatever good motivation and intentions there are, and 3. To offer to redeem the stink stuff.
My experience has been similar to James and John’s. There have been several moments in my life when the penny has dropped, and I have realised that my true motivations were much more ego than the Kingdom.
But when I’ve taken these hard-earned truths to God, I’ve been met by his grace rather than judgment. Rather than condemn me for my bad attitude, I get an opportunity to move forward in greater awareness of myself and my motivations.