By Michelle S. Lazurek, Crosswalk.com
Being called to enter any full-time ministry work takes a certain kind of person. It's important to feel called into any type of ministry work, especially missions. Missions' work is especially hard since it requires so much sacrifice—often going to foreign countries to spread the gospel. If you are married or have a significant other, it is vital that both people feel called into missions' work. But what happens if one of you feels the calling and the other doesn't? Here are five ways to recognize the call of missions in a couple's life:
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1. God Speaks to You
God speaks to us in many ways. He speaks through his Word, through his people, listening for his voice, a "sense" or a "gut" feeling, visions, dreams, etc. If God is calling both of you into missions' work, he'll make it known. Use this sign (or a set of signs) to confirm his calling upon your life. Psalm 37:23 says, "The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him." God has a purpose and plan for each one of our lives. God is faithful to open and close doors as he sees fit to confirm a particular calling. God will call both of you when he is ready; will you and your significant other accept the call?
2. You Both Have a Passion for Spreading the Gospel
A great way to figure out if missions work is where God is calling you is to ask yourself: does the thought of sharing the gospel with unbelievers excite me? Do I want to spend my time passing out tracts or sharing my testimony with others? When I participated in evangelistic events within my church, did I feel passionate about sharing the gospel with others? If the answer is yes, God may be calling you to missions.
Although there are many facets of mission work, spreading the gospel is one of them. Sharing the good news of Jesus is a vital part of the ministry. It takes boldness and a lack of fear of rejection, among other unique qualities. God will equip you even if you are weak in these areas. God does not call the qualified; He qualifies the called. God gave Moses freedom of speech and allowed him to part the Red Sea with just his staff. He also qualified David as king even though he was considered the lowest in his family line. God often uses people who appear unqualified or weak in society's eyes to accomplish his mission. If you're constantly looking for ways to share the good news with others, missions may be in your future.
3. You Both Have the Spiritual Gift of Evangelism
In addition to having a plan and purpose for each of our lives, he is also wired each one of us with spiritual gifts. These spiritual gifts can be used both in a secular setting and in a church setting to strengthen both believers and nonbelievers. It is important to know how you and your mate are wired so that you can use those gifts in the best way possible. Scripture names different spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12. While these are not the only spiritual gifts God uses, this is a great place to start if you are not familiar with your gifts. Additionally, you can purchase spiritual gifts inventories online and in print. These are similar to exams schools administered years ago. These inventories consist of a set of multiple-choice questions. Fill in the bubble of the corresponding number with how you rate within that gift. For example, a question might be, "I hear from the Lord through visions and dreams and feel called to deliver that message to others." This statement would correspond to the gift of prophecy. You must answer depending on how similar you relate to that statement. The answer could range from "most likely" to "never. "Then, add the numbers using the grid in the back. The gifts with the highest numbers are most closely aligned with how you are gifted. Although this is not an absolute authority on this subject, it will give you a good idea of what spiritual gifts you might have given your personality, passions, and tendencies.
If you've never taken a spiritual gift inventory before, this might be a very refreshing process for you. It is exciting to discover God's unique pattern in your life. Understand that no one is completely gifted the way you are. No one can do what you do. You were placed on this earth for a reason, and spiritual gifts are a part of that. As you take the test, you will determine if missions or evangelism are a part of those spiritual gifts. If you feel called, yet missions did not come up as a spiritual gift, don't fret. Pray together as a couple. Ask God to confirm this calling in your life in a way that would be evident to both of you.
4. Others Have Confirmed This Gift
An important facet of knowing your spiritual gifts is having a community of believers around you so you can confirm these gifts in your life. It is easy to take an inventory based on what you wish you had, not what you do have. If you feel called into missions, ask others around you to see if missions might be a good fit for you. More than likely, you will find several people in agreement with this calling. Ask them to pray with you until that calling of missions is confirmed. Ask the Lord to use them to speak into your life regarding your spiritual gifts and specifically on the calling of missions. God will be faithful to those who ask him to confirm this gift if missions is indeed the case for your life.
5. You Took a Mission Trip
Sometimes, people feel called into missions due to a successful mission trip organized by your local church. Churches often sponsor missions trips. People who have a calling of missions get to experience doing missions work for them in a safe environment. Even if God does not call you into missions, you will be used powerfully by him if you choose to participate in the work of God through these trips. However, if you want to do missions full-time, starting off part-time might be a great way to ease yourself into the transition to see if you can handle the great sacrifice it takes to do mission work. Missionaries are often asked to sacrifice every luxury and comfort for the sake of the gospel. Not everyone is called to this, and you need to make sure you and your significant other are both called into this.
Although we are all called into different places to accomplish the work of the Kingdom, nothing is more fulfilling than doing missions work. However, it takes a special couple to accomplish this work without feeling resentful. It takes an incredible reliance on God for every need, as well as incredible boldness to share the gospel even in hostile places that persecute Christians. Allow God to speak to you regarding this work. If God is calling you into it, there is no better way to use your life than to dedicate it to the Lord and his mission.