3 reasons I’m glad I’m not a missionary

Jeff in Rwanda

I’ve never felt called to mission work. I’ve always thought it was important, but I’m personally passionate about design and communication, computers and software—in general, making things. But I’ve also felt guilty for not getting out “in the field.”

In the fall of 2014, I found myself on a plane to Rwanda with our videographer, Michael, to shoot a video for HOPE. The title of the video is “What’s in Your Hands?” and it’s about how God sometimes answers our prayers by multiplying what he’s already given us. So what was in our hands? A laptop and some camera gear.

My prayer for the trip was that God would use us for His glory, that our work would help others connect to what God is doing around the world through HOPE. And that’s what I believe God calls us to as His followers—to do the work we’re gifted in, to use our talents for His glory. For me that happens through design.

Here are three reasons I don’t feel guilty anymore:

1. God made me to be passionate about design.

I connect strongly to God as Creator. I love sharing stories, communicating ideas, creating beautiful experiences, and connecting people. God made me passionate about these things, and I believe He designed us all to do work we’re passionate about. Art, algorithms, business plans, products, websites, stores, homes—our very desire to work—can be a reflection of our Creator. We are all created in His image.

In his article, “To the Creative: The Glory of God and the Works of Your Hands,” Joseph Simmons talks about the building of the temple in Exodus 31. God sent the Holy Spirit to fill a few craftsmen so that they could build His home on earth. The result of this partnership was unlike anything the world had known before:

Moses talked to God in a burning bush. He talked to God on the mountain when everyone else was too terrified of God’s glory (Exodus 20:18-21). He spoke with God the way a man speaks with his friend (Exodus 33:11). But when God came down in glory to the house that the creatives among his people built, not even Moses could stand in his glory. The art of the people, the creativity of the people was for the glory of God. God worked in them, and God came down.

2. All work can glorify God.

Olive

I haven’t always connected my faith with my career, but my perspective is slowly shifting to think about how I can glorify God through my work. In his book, The Element, Ken Robinson encourages us to find and work in our element, “the point where what you are passionate about and what you are good at naturally meet.” I believe that our passions and aptitudes are given to us by God, and we can and should apply them as acts of worship, for His glory.

As followers of Christ, we all have the amazing miracle of the Holy Spirit living in us. When we work for God’s glory, whatever our work is, God can multiply our efforts to achieve more than we could ever ask or imagine. I believe this to be true whether you’re a stay-at-home parent changing diapers, a street-side produce vendor in the Republic of Congo, or a small business owner with 40 employees.

As a member of HOPE’s marketing team, I’ve seen how thousands of people and businesses are using what God has placed in their hands to give so generously to HOPE. It’s helped me realize that if everyone was a missionary, there wouldn’t be anyone left to support them.

3. God is bigger than we think.

Joanne and Clare

Through the video project, I learned that God knows what He’s doing. I was worried about how to capture the stories of the people we met, since I’m not a gifted interviewer. But God had the right people in place. Joanne had been working in Rwanda for the last six months, visiting savings groups, asking questions, refining her process. She worked closely with Clare, her translator. Together, they were gifted at communicating humility, thankfulness, and respect to the individuals we met. The different skills of our team worked together to enable us to show love to others and to capture the footage and stories we needed.

In the time I’ve worked at HOPE, I’ve been struck by how, all over the world, God is using Christians and their work to spread the Gospel. Jose in the D.R. is building wheelbarrows and witnessing to the young men he’s training in his trade. Olive in Rwanda runs a restaurant. She has become the treasurer of her savings group and preaches the Gospel in her community. (Her rice and beans are the best I’ve ever had!) Individuals in the United States use their particular skills to provide for their families, as well as give generously to churches, ministries, and missionaries.

We are all, in our own ways, members of God’s Kingdom. So I thank God that we’re not all called to the same work. I also thank God that He can use the pencil, paper, and laptop He’s put in my hands for His purposes.

Have you found that area where the passions and aptitudes God has given you overlap? I’d love to hear in the comments below.

Jeff Brown

Jeff Brown

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Jeff is the design director at HOPE International. Through his work, he strives to uphold the beauty and dignity of HOPE's clients. He endeavors to remove barriers for individuals to connect and participate in the work God is doing around the world.

4 responses to 3 reasons I’m glad I’m not a missionary

  1. As someone who works stateside for a missions organization I help hundreds of people travel the world to serve as short-term missionaries. It can be difficult to see everyone else is going while I sit at a desk.
    It wasn’t until I took the focus off of myself that I realized as followers of Christ we are all men and women on mission — “…As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you” I may be sent halfway around the world or I may be sent across the street. In fact, probably both.
    I loved reading about how God is using you and your wonderful talents for the Kingdom, Jeff!

    • Jeff Brown

      Mary,
      Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I think the realization that’s made the biggest difference to me is that maybe I am being “sent” to my computer, to my office. That my work creating a marketing piece is how God is using me. All the parts of the Body of Christ are part of the mission of spreading the gospel. I love 1 Corinthians 12 1-31 in reference to this topic. I just had to realize that just because art director wasn’t listed in the passage doesn’t mean it can’t be my vital role in the greater work of the Body.

  2. As a stay-at-home mom to a toddler, I struggle with this greatly. Learning more about my personality type (ESFJ) has helped immensely but I war between knowing that my family is my 1st priority, especially for this season, requiring most of what I can give, and between feeling like I’m not living radically enough.
    I really loved this post! Definitely going to look into the links you shared 🙂
    Morgan

    • Jeff Brown

      Morgan, thanks for sharing here! I’m an INFP so “evangelizing” is difficult for me. Especially on top of loving my wife well, shepherding my 3 young boys, and my job out of the house. But sharing my thoughts in this format is something I enjoy. And potentially could reach more people. I think about Romans 10:14-15:

      14 How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?
      15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the Gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!”

      I think that if your honest, prayerful intent is to be used by God then you will be, no matter what your “work” is.

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