Question about Guidance for missionaries:

"How much should I consider the needs of the world and my gifts?"

"Your gifts could be key in finding your fit."

Answer from Marti, who has been in missions for more than 20 years and serves as an editor for AskaMissionary.com. This answer is excerpted from an article that first appeared in the ShortTermMissions.com Newsletter.

Surfers and skaters springboard from shared interests to launch cross-cultural friendships. Medical or business professionals offer expertise to those who can't otherwise find or afford it. All over the world, Christians are seeing God use their abilities in world missions.

You could be great with kids, have a special place in your heart for those with special needs, or be called to minister to missionary families. You may be a teacher, coach, counselor, or bookkeeper. But what part do the skills, passions, and experiences God has given you play in finding a mission trip (or even a place to serve long-term)? They could be the key to finding a fit.

Sometimes people ask, "What kind of person do I need to become for God to use me in missions?" But the Lord distributes gifts throughout the global Church and calls people to serve together in a vast myriad of ways. You may need more training and experience. There's always more to learn. Keep on growing and stretching. Yet God is not asking you to stop being who you are and become someone different.

Though our Maker has a way of working in and through our weak points as well as our strong ones, most global servants find that over time the Lord steers them to steward and serve in those areas of strength. He will develop and direct you through your areas of gifting. When looking for your next step in service, it is wise to assess how God has used you in the past. Especially seek out experiences that will hone your ministry skills and sharpen your spiritual effectiveness.

Just be sure to hold your offering with open hands. Don't let the chance to do your thing in missions take priority over loving and serving your team and submitting to the guidance of your team leadership and local hosts.

"God’s priority is to use your gifts for his purposes."

Answer from Os Guiness.

God normally calls us along the line of our giftedness, but the purpose of giftedness is stewardship and service, not selfishness. Giftedness does not stand alone in helping us discern our callings. It lines up in response to God's call alongside other factors, such as family heritage, our own life opportunities, God's guidance, and our unquestioning readiness to do what he shows.

This is also why it is wrong to treat God as a grand employment agency, a celestial executive searcher to find perfect fits for our perfect gifts. The truth is not that God is finding us a place for our gifts but that God has created us and our gifts for a place of his choosing, and we will only be ourselves when we are finally there.

To the extent that through worship, listening to God, and discovering our giftedness we grasp what God is calling us to be and do, there will be a proper clarity in our sense of calling. But to the extent that we blithely rush to be explicit, we betray our modern arrogance and forget the place of mystery in God's dealing with us.

In many cases a clear sense of calling comes only through a time of searching, including trial and error. And what may be clear to us in our twenties may be far more mysterious in our fifties because God's complete designs for us are never fully understood, let alone fulfilled, in this life.

Excerpted from the book The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life by Os Guiness.

"No special guidance is necessary."

Answer excerpted from an article by Robert E. Speer, chairman of the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions in 1901.

If people are going to draw lines of division between different kinds of service, what preposterous reasoning leads them to think that it requires less divine sanction for some to spend his or her life easily among Christians than it requires to go out as a missionary to the unreached?

Is it not absurd to suggest that a special guidance is necessary to become a missionary, but no direction is required to gratify personal ambitions?

There is something wonderfully misleading, full of hallucination and delusion in this business of missionary guidance. With many of us it is not a missionary call at all that we are looking for; it is a shove. There are a great many of us who would never hear a call if it came.

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