1. Ignore Jesus’ request in John 4:35 that we take a long hard look at the fields. Seeing the needs of people can be depressing and very unsettling. It could lead to genuine missionary concern. (John 4:35 “Do you not say, `Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.”
2. Focus your energies on socially legitimate targets. Go after a bigger salary. Focus on getting a job promotion, a bigger home, a more luxurious car, or future financial security. Along the way, run up some big credit card debts.
3. Get married to somebody who thinks the “Great Commission” is what your employer gives you after you make a big sale. After marriage, embrace the socially-accepted norms of settling down, establishing a respectable career trajectory and raising a picture-perfect family.
4. Stay away from missionaries. Their testimonies can be disturbing. The situations they describe will distract you from embracing whole-heartedly the materialistic lifestyle of your home country.
5. If you happen to think about missions, restrict your attention to countries where it’s impossible to openly do missionary work. Think only about North Korea, Saudi Arabia, China and other closed countries. Forget the vast areas of our globe open to missionaries. Never, never listen to talk about creative access countries.
6. Think how bad a missionary you would be based on your own past failures. It is unreasonable to expect you will ever be any better. Don’t even think about Moses, David, Jonah, Peter or Mark, all of whom overcame failures.
7. Always imagine missionaries as talented, super-spiritual people who stand on lofty pedestals. Maintaining this image of missionaries will heighten your own sense of inadequacy. Convincing yourself that God does not use ordinary people as missionaries will smother any guilt you may feel about refusing to even listen for a call from God.
8. Agree with the people who tell you that you are indispensable where you are. Listen when they tell you that your local church or home country can’t do without you.
9. Worry incessantly about money.
10. If you still feel you must go, go out right away without any preparation or training. You’ll soon be home again and no one can ever blame you for not trying!
Do you know someone who relies on — or did you previously rely on — any of these approaches?
This article was written by Dr. Howard Culbertson. He and his wife spent nearly 15 years as missionaries in Italy and Haiti. He was missionary-in-residence at Southern Nazarene University where he taught missions for 25 years.