Are God’s Goals Really Greater Than My Own?

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After church planting among unreached people groups in to China’s Southwest interior for nearly 15 years, people often come to me for missions advice by asking, “How can I tell if God is calling me to be a missionary?”

First I’d like to echo Charles Spurgeon’s proposal:

“If God calls you to be a missionary, don’t stoop to be a king.”

When I was planning to move to China in 1998, I did not hear the audible voice of God say, “David, pack your bags. You’re going to China!” I didn’t need the perfect sign. I did not set out a fleece. I did not randomly flip open my Bible, praying that the perfect scripture would magically direct me overseas.

My reasons were simple enough. Jesus had already told me to go 2,000 years ago.

“God, I’m moving to China. Is that cool?” I felt him smile with pleasure. It was God replying, “Why not?”

I confidently bought a one way ticket from Phoenix to the Far East, sensing providential purpose.

“It will not do to say that you have no special call to go to China. With these facts before you and with the command of the Lord Jesus to go and preach the gospel to every creature, you need rather to ascertain whether you have a special call to stay at home.” – James Hudson Taylor

Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desire of your heart.”

I always come back to that one. I understand it saying this: when I am delighting myself in God, his dreams automatically become my own.

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There is no chasm between my wishes and God’s dream.
The things that ignite God’s heart, light a flame in my own.

Still, for many years in China, my artistic skills were put on the back burner, “because,” I told myself, “I’m a missionary. People are more important than projects.”

Which is 100% true.

But God gifted me in ways that only I can express certain aspects of his glory, and I need to make sure that the talents he gave me are being put to use.

Literature.
Design.
Media.
Film.
Art.

My personal passions sat in the background for way too long. Looking back, it kinda bums me out.

When can we get to the place where we live as if God’s goals and our own become one and the same?

A perfect example of someone embracing their passion, and using it missionally is a friend of mine named Juliann. She started a company called Jumay Designs that has been helping missionaries with design and visual presentations for years. She has come to understand that she is doing what she was made for by helping empower other missionaries.

I think that’s cool.

Maybe it’s time you stopped beating yourself up for doing what you’re passionate about, and simply focus your energy on using your God-given abilities for kingdom purposes.

Now, for a guy who is always talking about the 10/40 Window and reaching unreached people groups, this next statement may come as a surprise for you. But here goes.

Living missional has little to do with location. You can be an agent of change right where you’re at with the tools God equipped you with.

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“I can’t wait to get back in the action,” my wife, Lorna, tells me. “I miss the adventure of traveling to China’s unreached tribal villages.” 

But darling, you are smack dab in the middle of God’s adventure for us.

You’re growing a baby. (She’s 5 months pregnant.)
You’re inspiring others to become missionaries.
You’re living with God’s intentions for you always at the forefront of your mind.

After nearly 15 years on the mission field in China, we now live in Manila, a country saturated with Christian exposure. But now more than ever I feel that I am multiplying myself as a missionary by empowering others to reach the unreached in the 10/40 Window via artistic and multimedia skills that God has placed within me.

Delight yourself in the Lord today. His goals will be etched upon your heart, and you’ll be confident with every step you take to speed the kingdom return through your unique gifts and talents.

David Joannes
Founder/President at Within Reach Global
David Joannes is the co-founder and president of Within Reach Global, Inc, which serves the advance of the Gospel in some of Southeast Asia’s most difficult places. He is the author of The Space Between Memories: Recollections from a 21st Century Missionary. David has a love for language, culture, and creative writing, and for the last 20 years, he has witnessed God’s Kingdom established in forgotten parts of the globe. David lives in Chiang Mai, Thailand, with his wife, Lorna, and their daughter, Cara.
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