“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you.” Luke 14:28-29, NIV
Jesus said a lot of radical things during his time on earth, but in Luke 14, he settled in for a moment of plain common sense: People who jump into things before they’re ready frequently live to regret it.
In the missions world, we like to celebrate passion, risk-taking and people who refuse to listen to the naysayers. But all of that works best when we’ve prayerfully looked at where we are in life and what roadblocks we might face as we head out on our journey.
The following questions are designed to help you determine if you’re ready for missions. You can read them below and then download a free printable copy with space to record your answers.
As you answer the questions, we invite you to be brutally honest, praying through each one and discussing them with a mentor, pastor or TEAM missions coach when you’re done.
As a flawed human being, you’ll never be fully ready for mid- to long-term missions. But we hope that by identifying strengths, weaknesses and circumstances, you’ll be able to make wise decisions regarding them and, ultimately, serve God with a healthy perspective on life and ministry.
How is your spiritual health?
Christ told us the only way to bear fruit is to abide in him. Yet one of the biggest challenges missionaries face is not losing sight of God in the midst of unfamiliar cultures, loneliness and all the work they’re doing for him. Use these questions to see where your spiritual foundation may be vulnerable.
- What does time with the Lord look like for you?
- Right now, what in your life shows that you are growing as a disciple and bearing fruit?
- What does your engagement with local church look like?
- With whom in your life can you honestly and deeply share about your journey of faith?
How is your church health?
God’s call to missions rarely (if ever) comes to individuals in isolation from the church communities they worship, serve and minister in. If God is calling you to serve overseas, it’s likely that others in your church community have sensed God calling you in this direction as well. Answer the following questions, and then sit down with a trusted mentor, pastor, elder or friend to see if God brings insight through the body of Christ.
- Read Acts 13:1-3. When and how does Saul and Barnabas’ missionary call come? What is the church’s response?
- How are you serving in your church right now?
- How has God used your local church to call you to missions?
- Who in your church might sense that God is calling you overseas? Have you invited them into your life as you discern God’s leading?
For future conversations, here is a resource for your pastor on preparing and assessing future missionaries.
How is your missional health?
A missional mindset doesn’t just begin when you reach the field. Your commitment to sharing Christ should be growing and visible in your life right now. Let the questions below get you thinking about your attitudes toward living on mission in your local context and how your actions demonstrate them.
- What does discipleship look like in your life right now? Who’s investing in you? Who are you investing in?
- What is your definition of a missionary, and where do you find it in the Bible?
- How do you engage with nonbelievers in your everyday life?
- How do you define success in living?
- How have you invested in other cultures?
How is your physical health?
The availability and quality of medical care can vary widely from country to country, and some assignments require much more physical activity than others. Measure your medical health and the needs you will have overseas to help determine if and where international ministry is an option.
- What habits and practices do you employ to take care of your body?
- What healthy habits do you need to add, and which unhealthy habits do you need to kick?
- What are your physical and medical limitations?
How is your financial health?
Some people imagine life abroad to be a free-spirited escape from all financial worries. But as a missionary, your finances will likely grow more complex as you add travel costs, ministry budgets and foreign currencies to your regular concerns. Understanding your current financial standing will help you face these challenges with confidence rather than fear.
- What do you think the Bible says about fundraising?
- What steps are you taking to maintain a balanced budget and live within your means? How well are they working?
- What debts or expenses might hinder your freedom to serve God with abandon?
- What are your thoughts and feelings toward fundraising?
How is your mental health?
Qualities like resilience, a sense of humor, a sense of perspective and good boundaries are all worth striving for in missions. Establishing those qualities and a healthy pattern of living now will help combat burnout and ensure longevity on the field. Use these questions to evaluate your psychological health and identify potential weaknesses.
- What do your rhythms and work and rest look like?
- How do you feel when things don’t go according to your plans?
- What potential stressors at home might be magnified on the field?
- What is your recent track record of saying “yes” and “no”? Do you find yourself overcommitted?
How is your relational health?
Conflicts and difficulties will arise on the field, and your ability to handle them with kindness, flexibility and a sense of personal responsibility will be crucial to healthy teamwork. Take a moment to look into how you relate to others.
- What does healthy conflict look like?
- In what parts of life do you tend to be a leader? When do you tend to follow?
- What intimate relationships do you have? What do they look like?
How is your marital and familial health?
Whether you’re taking your kids to the mission field or going on your own, the health and attitudes of your family unit can bring life to your time abroad or send you packing. Answer the questions below to determine what limitations and strengths you bring to the table.
- If you are married, are you and your spouse discussing this calling together? Is your spouse on board?
- If you are single, is your desire to serve as a single person, or do you want to wait to serve until you get married?
- If you have kids, do they have any limitations that may impact your decision to serve?
- Have you talked about your calling with your extended family (parents, grandparents, etc.)?
- Have there been any major changes in your life in the past two years?
Ultimately, you will never be able to give a perfect answer to every question on the list. Every missionary carries weakness, temptations and failures — but by taking a look at them now, you are building a strong foundation for the work ahead. When hard times come, you will know how to finish well.
Click here to download your free copy of these questions with space to journal your responses.