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Why God might not be 'calling' you to missions

YWAMers (and I think Christians in general) really like to talk about callings: that specific word of the Lord that reveals one's individual purpose and gives the divine direction that many desire to hear from heaven in a loud, thundering voice.

I firmly believe that God calls, and the Bible plainly illustrates that he does; examples ranging from Moses to Jeremiah and Paul all show God communicating to individuals to reveal their personal calling, and while I do believe that my own journey which led me to uproot my life and move to Mexico was something God wanted for me, I can say with absolute certainty that He did not call me. Not in the traditional sense that so many assume must happen in order to become a missionary. And perhaps he hasn’t ‘called’ you, either, but maybe it’s because He’s communicating in a different manner.

It was during a prayer meeting in Durango, Mexico that God spoke, but he didn't call. He showed me new things, but he didn't impose any new beliefs on me. During that prayer meeting, God gave me His heart. He revealed a tiny bit of the immense love He has for the Mexican church. He showed me that He sees his bride in Mexico with a tender and passionate love, but He also sees areas where she hasn't reached her full potential, and He revealed His desire to see her free from lies and bondage as she walks into the fullness of her true identity, full of power and love.

The revelation in itself was one of the most impactful moments I've ever had with the Lord, and it was amazing and beautiful to see things from His perspective, encouraging me and reminding me that he also sees ME with much more favor and love than I could ever see for myself.

That's when I received an invitation. In no way, by any stretch of the imagination, was it a calling, nor a command; there was no heavenly voice that said, "I'm calling you to missions," or "you must come and serve here," or "this is your destiny." It wasn't even "it would be good for you if you came and did this." Rather, it was a small, quiet, invitation to come join what God was already doing to edify and beautify his bride in Mexico.

In fact, the invitation was exponentially less impactful than the initial revelation of His love for the church, and I'm quite convinced that my life would have still gone quite well had I chosen to decline the invitation. But a revelation of the heart of God changes everything. The love of Christ compels us, as Paul stated to the Corinthians, and it was the love and worth and value that I saw for the Mexican church that motivated me to pack up my car and drive more than 2000 miles one-way to a city that I had only spent two days in before moving there.

The point I want to make is that God may not be 'calling' you in a traditional sense; maybe he's simply extending an invitation. Based on my own experiences and the testimonies of others, I sometimes even wonder if God is less in the 'calling' business and more in the 'inviting' business.

For me, calling usually implies a command. God said to do this, and that’s that. Whether I want to or not, God said, so I do. If I don't do it, then I'll be sinning and I'll have to suffer the consequences. While the premise of obedience (and obedience regardless of our own feelings) is indeed good, the motivation of that obedience is based in fear. We obey for fear of the consequences of disobedience. There may also be fear of the calling itself, with many believers ignoring the topic of missions altogether, afraid that God will call them to serve in a country that they don't want to serve in. (This misconception is also perpetuated by an erroneous idea that we must be miserable and poor in order to really do God's work, but that’s another blog topic entirely.) Nonetheless, fear is again present.

Invitations, on the other hand, are more love-based, more relationship-based. The motivation to accept an invitation is not a fear of service or a fear of consequences, but rather a love of God and a love of things that God loves. Only in relationship does God reveal His heart; only in relationship does He show us His perspective, and only in relationship does He transform us in such a way that His passions and desires become our passions and desires. I believe He doesn’t want or need people to serve Him against their will, but rather desires that we would be so connected with His heart, His passions, and His desires, that we would be excited at any opportunity He offers us to work alongside Him.

In my case, God gave me an open invitation; though I felt that I could freely choose to do something else with my life without negative consequences, a relationship-based revelation filled me with love for people that God loves, which motivated me to say Yes.

The reality is that if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you are already called to missions. Whether or not he gives you a more individualized calling is secondary to the fact that a general calling has already been given to his church to go and make disciples. You're called to missions and to make disciples, regardless of whether or not want to, and regardless of whether or not you are supposed to leave your hometown or home country.

But perhaps God hasn't 'called' you for a specific, individualized role to play in the Great Commission. Maybe He is simply extending an invitation, hoping that you would voluntarily choose to accompany Him in what He’s doing around the world to save the lost and disciple his church.

If you want to say Yes to an invitation to discipleship, missions, and going deeper with God, click here.

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