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Six Reasons Why Your Preparation for the Mission Field is Taking so Long

God desires humble leaders. It’s not that God always want to humble us, we always need to be more humble than we already are. Humble makes you more useful and usable.

Our ministry education processes are upside down. We think we can go off to bible college for three or four years and be ready for a lifetime ministry. Jesus had 30 years of prep for three years of ministry.

Zechariah and his son, John the Baptist, both had lengthy periods of ministry preparation. Zechariah was an old man when his turn came to serve in the temple. He and his wife were childless. Then, in a sudden twist of the plot, an angel appears to Zechariah and announces that he’s going to be a father. Zechariah is waiting for Messiah, but is incredulous when he learns that God would use his family, his unborn son, his barren wife. The boy’s name will be John.

Young John grew up in a home where the foundation for prophetic ministry was laid. From childhood until about age 30, John the Baptist prepared. His ministry lasted a short fraction of his life. How was he prepared? Was he involved in some kind of behind-the-scenes ministry before his public emergence? What did God do to prepare him while in the desert? We don’t have the answer to that question other than knowing that he “grew and became powerful in the Spirit (Luke 1:80).” What kind of timeframe is required for those results?

If you feel like you’ve been put on the back burner, there’s a reason. God wants two results from your life:

  1. Growth
  2. To be powerful in the Spirit

There are some disturbingly long periods of waiting throughout the Biblical narrative. On a national level, Israel waited for centuries often before the time was ripe for God to insert Himself into circumstances. On an individual level, decades passed before people God called to do great deeds did their great deeds.

Abraham was 75 when God called him to leave. He was 100 when Isaac, his promised son was born.

Joseph was a slave and falsely imprisoned before he emerged to serve as lead administrator in Egypt.

Israel languished in bondage that became progressively worse over a 400 year period before being delivered. Then the nation wandered in the wilderness for more than 40 years before entering the promised land.

David waited more than a decade between the time Samuel anointed him king and the throne was relinquished to him. During that period, he lived as a fugitive and refugee while he gathered the men that would lead his armies after his coronation.

We don’t have enough space her to give an entire chronology of God’s work in Israel throughout the Old Testament, so let fast forward a bit to the last book of the Old Testament. There were 400 silent years between the Book of Malachi and the public emergence of John the Baptist in his ministry as forerunner to Messiah.

The life of Jesus looked like John the Baptist’s years of preparation. In fact, what was said of John the Baptist in Luke 1 was also written about Jesus in Luke 2: “…and the Child grew and became strong. He was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon Him.”

How do these apply to you as a missionary? Is it possible that you’re a missionary still in training? As you look back, you probably realize God has been preparing you your whole life.

  1. Before you thought about going onto the mission field, God was preparing you (Jeremiah 1:5).
  2. Even after you emerge onto the mission field, preparation will continue (read about Abraham being required to sacrifice Isaac on Mount Moriah in Genesis 22).
  3. The ministry you will do on the field will surprise you. It will be a total plot twist (read about Jacob’s ladder in Genesis 28).
  4. You’ll never have the whole picture while you are in the middle of daily tasks or daily life (read Genesis 39 about Joseph in prison).
  5. Even in the grind of daily life, God is working through you even if you don’t “feel” it (read Psalms David wrote while fleeing Saul in chapters 7, 27, 31 and 34).
  6. The work you’re doing is honorable and Jesus is proud of you even if you don’t understand what’s going on in the big picture (Matthew 11:11).

Jesus was humble and godly leaders are His representatives in the world. There is no fast track. God is not in the same rush to get you there (wherever there is) as you are. If you find yourself not being used right now, get ready. You’re about to be. A plot-twist is coming and you’ll soon find yourself in the middle of more ministry than you can handle. Take this time to really be humble before God and listen to His voice. Recognize now what it sounds like. Because once you get busy, all the other voices in your ears will clamor for your attention. The voice you’ll most need to hear is the Lord’s. Get to know Him now.

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