SEND U blog

Reflections and resources for lifelong learning for missionaries

Category: Finishing Well

Exploring Spiritual Formation: Burnout

The Situation
You love Jesus. You’ve dedicated your life to serving him. You’re loyal, diligent, and you work hard. It’s not unusual for you to check your email after hours, and you’re even willing to work on your day off, if necessary. Lately, it seems like it’s necessary a lot.

You’ve been known to sacrifice for the good of the team, and you often give up time with family or friends to tend to others in need. You’re usually willing to take on extra projects. Sleep is a luxury. Exhaustion is a constant companion, and you can’t remember the last time you took a vacation that didn’t involve a visit with a supporter.

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Achieving everything you desire by mid-career – not a recipe for finishing well

A month ago, SEND U conducted a mid-career retreat for those missionaries who had served at least 15 years with our organization.   This week, as I was reading about Solomon in 1 Kings, I was struck by how much this leader accomplished by the time he hit “mid-career.”

When Solomon had finished building the temple of the LORD and the royal palace, and had achieved all he had desired to do, the LORD appeared to him a second time, as he had appeared to him at Gibeon.  (1 Kings 9:1–2)

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Top 10 definitions of missionary success revisited

The seventh post in a series on defining success for a missionary. Part 1 demonstrated that we, like Paul, can be confident in our ministry, despite all our detractors and critics. In Part 2, we saw in 2 Corinthians that Paul repeats the phrase “commend ourselves,” to identify key criteria that he uses to demonstrate that his ministry is credible and successful. In the third, fourth and fifth posts, we looked more closely at Paul’s criteria of successful ministry, that of clearly proclaiming the Gospel, seeing lives changed by God’s power through our ministry, and joyfully enduring hardships in ministry.  In the sixth post, we look at some typical, yet flawed definition of success.

Last week, I suggested that we as missionaries are pretty adept at coming up with ways of determining whether we have been “good missionaries.”   I gave my top 10, many of them coming from my own experience.   Any one want to add to this list?   No need to stop at ten!

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Top 10 inadequate definitions of success

The sixth post in a series on defining success for a missionary. Part 1 demonstrated that we, like Paul, can be confident in our ministry, despite all our detractors and critics. In Part 2, we saw in 2 Corinthians that Paul repeats the phrase “commend ourselves,” to identify key criteria that he uses to demonstrate that his ministry is credible and successful. In the third, fourth and fifth posts, we looked more closely at Paul’s criteria of successful ministry, that of clearly proclaiming the Gospel, seeing lives changed by God’s power through our ministry, and joyfully enduring hardships in ministry.

Who gets to hear “Well done”?We all want Christ to say to us, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” when we stand before him. But few of us spend much time thinking deeply about what “well done” actually means for us as missionaries. What do we need to be doing in order to receive Christ’s commendation? Some might protest that the question about “doing” clashes with the concept of grace. But Paul says in 2 Cor 5:10, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.”   There will be a judgment of works for believers, and according to 1 Cor 3:12-15, the quality of our participation (or lack of participation) in the building of Christ’s church is definitely subject to this judgment.So if we don’t take the time to think what Christ might be expecting of us, how else do we determine whether we are a “good missionary”? What are some of the definitions of success that we live by?  Maybe recognizing some of these inadequate definitions will be just as helpful as studying the Pauline definitions of his success as a missionary.

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