For many, it is easy to romanticize the idea of going into full time ministry. We imagine what we will do and how we will do it; living off of rice and beans, while working late into the night in an almost artistic way. We dream of the wandering people that we will encounter and of the grand opportunities to share Christ and His Gospel with them. And, we permit ourselves to believe that raising support will be fun, because even if we are living in poverty, we will have connected hundreds of individuals into the great plan that God has bestowed us with. In our quest to be a man after God’s own heart, we often forget that being a missionary is not necessarily made up of successes and failures, but of growth, setbacks, and a much neglected need for rest.
It may sound dull or easy when a missionary talks about the local coffee shop that they walk to every morning in hopes of having a conversation with someone new or continuing a conversation with someone they have been reaching out to for the last six months, but emotionally, it can be unusually draining. Not only do we search all day for those who are willing to listen, learn, and eventually believe the Gospel, but we emotionally engage with countless individuals, pushing ourselves to relate and invest in their lives. We never leave our work at the office; it is a part of our daily life. If someone needs us, we respond even in the wee hours of night. It is impossible to regularly, disengage emotionally and still be effective in this line of work, but on occasion, we have to.
The weight of sin, hopeless people, pain, and sadness is heavy to carry, and that is why the missionary needs time to recover from so much emotional trauma that happens in their everyday life. It isn’t just a day of grabbing coffee, eating with a non-believer, and having a meeting or two. It’s a day of full on engagement, catering to the needs of others, and putting your-self on hold, all while hopefully presenting Jesus in a way that clearly reflects who HE is. As people, we are not made to constantly be on the go and if pushed too hard for too long it is easy to either burn-out, become apathetic, or even become physically ill. For those involved in jobs like counseling, teaching, or ministry, it is crucial to find and make time to disengage, reconnect with God, and simply rest, knowing that the world won’t fall apart if you are away for more than five minutes.