10 November, 2014

Dangerous territory

This morning I found a great post, one that exposes how missions can easily be idolised as the best form of service that a "good" Christian can do. The old putting the missionary on a pedestal trick! (Same thing happens for people in full-time ministry in their home country, I think.)
Please, please don't put me on a pedestal and don't let me
become arrogant or judgemental either. I'm an ordinary
person, just with a slightly "on the edge of ordinary" journey.

If you've read my blog for a while you'll know that one of the primary purposes I write as I do is to debunk that myth. We are ordinary people, just happens that the streets we're living and serving on looks a bit different to the street that Christians in Australia (or wherever you are) live and serve on (this analogy comes from Jonathon Trotter's blog post that I've linked to above).

Here's a taste of his post:
But aren’t missionaries the crème of the crop? Um, yeah, no. Turns out, we’re just people. We may travel more than most, and maybe we speak more languages than some, but the idea that missionaries are somehow “set apart” is dangerous. I’d like to begin a discussion about this. Care to join?
The article is really worth a read. Worth considering your own attitude, whether you are a missionary or full-time worker, or not.

Could it be pride?
Pride is an evil attitude that can creep into our thoughts as missionaries and we need to guard against it. It's easy to be the special person who stands up in churches and tells amazing stories, but never lets people see the ordinary moments. 

I read an interview in a respected missions newsletter the other day where an Indian couple in a school ministry in India reported that "We really don't have any challenges. . . We have few problems." I question that. I wonder if they just didn't feel they could talk about it, because we all have problems. I simply can't imagine that a ministry with 18 teachers and 300 children has no problems. It could have been a cross-cultural issue, but it could also have been the desire to only tell about the good. Most missionaries struggle with this temptation as they write prayer letters and when they speak. 

It can be too attractive to be the person that people say to (or think about), "I admire you so much, I could never do what you do." Hear too much of that and you are in trouble.

I'm very grateful to be in a Bible study here in Australia where (I hope) I'm considered just another Christian. Admittedly I'm not hiding the problems we've had with adjusting back to Australia.

Admiration gone wrong
Admiration is a sneaky attitude that ones who don't get to go on an aeroplane can harbour and can result in individuals and churches holding up missions and missionaries on a pedestal. I wonder if this is one reason that people go on so many short-term mission trips. Because subconsciously they want admiration? No one will ever say this, of course, but it makes me wonder. I wonder if it holds some people back from saying yes to the call of long-term missions too, because they don't think they can measure up.

Lots of wondering. Anyone want to add their thoughts?


Rachel Monger said...

Your post and Jonathan's is good for both the overseas missionary and the in-country missionary to read. If we serve in God's Kingdom, we are all "missionaries" Thanks for sharing! And reading back in your blog ... I sympathize with your re-adjustment struggles! It is hard to find "ordinary"! Thanks! Rachel

Jerry E Beuterbaugh said...

Surely this is a site well worth seeing.

The Mother Experiment said...

You're just one of us to me. And I admire you for that. Oh hang on. Whoops. Apart from thinking "gee i had better not get too attached to her, coz she's gonna leave." Not something many people would admit either I'd guess.

Wendy said...

TME I'm so thankful that you've accepted me as one of you. Yes, I know that it is a big ask to become friends with someone who simply isn't going to be around much. No, most people won't admit that they will just keep their distance.
Thank you!

Wendy said...

Thanks for dropping by Rachel. So glad you can identify with what's going on in our lives. I love social media and blogging in the way it connects people with similar experiences in a way that never happened before.