When I envisioned life as a missionary, I had a picture of me being in one place or country for the rest of my life. Didn’t know where that was, but that was the picture. After all, whenever a missionary spoke at my home church during my youth, they spoke about one place, one people and one job they were doing. Even when we were appointed, the missionaries we saw retiring had, for the majority, served in one location for careers of twenty to thirty years.

It did not take long for me to realize that what I pictured would not be the reality. Thankfully, I also realized it wasn’t a biblical concept either.

092_20AWhat does longevity mean for us in service? Whether overseas or within our home country or neighborhood, answering God’s call to be his witnesses and make disciples doesn’t come with an anchor to be moored in one location. We have the anchor — that’s for sure, but the ship sails and moves.

I’ve written an entire book about moving in ministry*, because we couldn’t even get through our seven-week missionary orientation without changing countries three times! We didn’t reach the actual initial country of our “call” until three years later. Needless-to-say, my concept of call has faced some major adjustments as has my view of longevity.

In the end, longevity is our long-term commitment to go wherever he leads, even if that looks different at every turn.

Sometimes the doors are closed to ministry for a variety of reasons (see future book), but also there are times when God gives clear direction it’s time to move on. So, what do you do when you’ve been serving with a people or in a place for way too long without any evidence of a softening of hearts and fruit? Does giving up mean you’re not committed for the long-haul in your call?

I can’t answer that for you, because I don’t know your heart, but I can share some insights that may help you look at what’s happening and be more objective in discerning God’s will.

  • Pray and give it to God.
  • Step back and look at the hindrances to gospel breakthroughs with those you serve.
  • Pray and give it to God.
  • Confess any sins that may be blocking the work of the Holy Spirit in and through you.
  • Pray and give it to God.
  • Give yourself the freedom to say you’ve done all God’s asked you to do, if that’s the case.
  • Pray and give it to God.
  • Give yourself permission, once God’s given you the peace, to move on, trusting this place, these people into the hands of others.
  • Pray and give it to God.
  • Look ahead with anticipation of where he wants you to serve next and what he wants to do through you there.
  • Pray and give it to God.
  • Never stop praying for those you leave behind.

It may be that after you’ve done all of the above, God asks you to stay, to keep breaking at that spiritually dry ground. That’s alright too, because God will use that. However, also be willing to pass the tools to others who can approach the ground from a different vantage point. Be willing to be one link in a chain of laborers for the harvest.

Longevity is not tied to a place but to God. Keep pressing on for the work of His Kingdom, wherever your feet may go.

Grace and Peace


*Not yet published…still waiting on that.

2 thoughts on “Longevity

  1. I look forward to reading that book once it’s published!! Thank you for this…I took a screen shot of those bullet tips, which apply to my ho-hum mundane mom life even now. Very helpful!

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