I am the last one to think that I have all the answers or that I have succeeded in ministry and that you should listen to what I have to say. Honestly, the best way I know to help you is to point out where I think I have needed help as a missionary and hopefully steer you in a better direction.
So in no particular oder here are some areas that I feel I have failed in, could improve in, or should have done differently.
Prepare – You need to study the Bible as much as possible. Get the best Bible training possible from people that LOVE the Bible in word and deed. Study, study, study to know the Scriptures. Most likely when you get to your field of service you will be the head pastor, President of the Bible Institute and the head of a fellowship of churches….you need to know your Bible! Read that last sentence again then get really serious about studying the Scriptures!
If you are going to be a church planting missionary then get training under church planting missionaries. If you wanted to be a doctor you would train under doctors. A mechanic would train under a mechanic. A future missionary needs traing under real church planting missionaries. Many of the things you face and see will be unique to where you serve. Many people, even leaders, will not relate to what you are facing. But if you can find good church planting missionaries to train under they will have experience working in foreign cultures and can help you learn how to handle “different” situations. You will most likely do one of following without the right training:
You will quit.
You will get overwhelmed and not have answers or tools to handle what you will face.
You will get distracted.
You will find something to do besides what you set out to do – which is plant churches.
Here is a great place to get that training: http://www.ogtc.info
Serve God – Sounds easy huh? This is just too obvious but in my own experience it has been HARD! Maybe I’m different but I feel pulled this way and that and end up with my eyes on everyone else but The Lord, and that is a shame on my part. I probably have done a lot of my ministry for the wrong person. Give, go, and church plant in Jesus name and for His glory alone!
I love Paul’s Words to the Colossian believers in chapter three where he says, “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.” (Col 3:23,24). This is great advice for any employ but certainly for God’s full-time missionaries. A battle you may face if you are anything like me is having more than one God. You can easily be serving man even while giving an outward appearance that you are serving God. Serve God!
Work – Be ready to work. I went from building houses, working at my home church, and going to school full-time to being a missionary. The biggest difference was all my time was filled with obligations from morning to night and now I set my own schedule. If nothing gets done its on me. Most of the time people, even your superiors don’t know what you are up to but God does and He is the one that is going to give us our reward so come to the field with a work ethic. You don’t have to be the best, steadiness in the right work will do.
Here are some examples of good use of your time:
Being with, teaching and investing in young male leadership
This could mean:
Studying the Bible
Showing them how to do ministry
Reading a good Christian book together
Answering their questions
Letting them see you be a Christian leader, father and husband – how you order your life.
Look at yourself as the coach and by the end of your term you need a team that will “play the game” while you go on furlough. You will ask yourself what am I doing that is helping build the team. A good passage to meditate on dealing with this is Ephesians 4:11,12.
Like I said above these are all struggles and areas that I am trying to get better in. I think if you’ll read and heed it could really help you get headed in the right direction from the start.