Is God Calling Me to Be a Missionary?
I was doing my devotions and felt God lead me to Isaiah 49:6, which says, "I will make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth." I felt like God was telling me to be a missionary. I was so excited and amazed, I ran to tell my dad. But he thought I was taking it too seriously, and told me there's work to be done in our own backyard, that I don't have to go to the "ends of the earth" to serve God. I don't think he understands that I really feel God calling me to missions. How can I get my dad to take me seriously?
I'm a little torn when I read your letter. As a fellow Christian, I'm excited you feel this call to missions. It's a challenge not everyone is cut out for. If that's where you feel God leading you, I hope you'll follow that lead thoughtfully and prayerfully.
But I can also relate to your dad. Before our children were born, I used to pray God would use them to bring the gospel to the world. After they were born, I secretly started hoping God would lead them to live close to us for the rest of our lives. It's hard for parents to imagine their children growing up and heading out into the world to do their own thing. But eventually, we get a little more used to the idea.
So be patient with your dad. I know you were disappointed by his response. But remember, God spoke to you, not him. As you grow in your commitment to God's leading, your dad will hopefully begin to respect and honor your decision.
People who feel a strong sense of calling are convinced God has pointed them in one direction and they must follow. God may very well intend for you to serve as a missionary overseas. But your dad's comment about serving God in your own backyard is something you should think about. I think your dad wants you to see that God calls each of us to serve the people we meet every day. In other words, you don't have to wait till you're in a foreign country to share God's good news with others.
Finding ways to start living your missionary life now will be the very best way to prepare yourself for a future on the mission field. Talk to your youth worker or pastor about service opportunities in your community. Or ask your dad to help you find ways to reach out to people around you. You can serve lunch at a local soup kitchen, offer to mow lawns in your neighborhood, or visit senior citizens in an area rest home. You may also want to talk to your youth pastor about doing a short-term missions trip during a school break. Whatever you do, do it with a heart of joy and and attitude of servanthood.
There's another verse I'd like to throw your way, which says "Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart" (Psalm 37:4). Now that you have this sense of call from God, your job is to remain faithful and follow God as he prepares you for his will. I hope you will delight in the plans God has for your life. When you take joy in following God, others, including your dad, will begin to see God working through you.