Running for Office or Being a Missionary?

In Martin Luther’s hometown during an exhibit preparing to celebrate the Reformation.  

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Watching glimpses of the last campaign–as I watched a candidate get grilled about his past, his positions, pretty much everything I considered to be fairly private and personal. . . I felt myself identifying with him and empathizing.  You see, being a missionary on support is a lot like being in politics.  Here are some of the similarities:

1. Our life is not our own:  We have been questioned about everything from birth control, vacation time, what is an appropriate family size?, budget, finances, free time, further schooling to name a few.  Some of the questions, I would never even ask my best friend, but since we are on support, everyone feels that it is their right to ask.  How should I respond graciously to these questions?  How much should people know?  My problem is that since I want to be transparent, I go into my defensive mode:

  • Yes, we did go to Switzerland on vacation last year. . . 
  • But–it was only 90 minutes away.  And we were offered a free place to stay for doing a bit of ministry.  We did some hiking, but it was just one day.
  •  I feel I need to justify everything that we have done, and this makes me want to stop sharing what we do.

2. There will always be someone who does not agree with what we are doing.

  • Some people think we have too many children, others think we are wrong in not having more.
  • Some think we should be homeschooling (even though it is against the law), others think we should not have our kids at Black Forest Academy.
  • Some think we should only be doing overt aggressive evangelism.  Others think we should be working with solely with missionary kids.
  • Some want Debbie only at home with the children.  Others want Debbie in a part-time ministry role.
  • People wish we would visit the US more often.  Others are upset we spend money on flights back to the US.
  • Some feel our support is too low.  Others feel are budget it too high especially since we have a large family.
  • Some think furlough is an extended vacation.  Others think our furlough (HMA) is too stressful and we should take more vacation time during it.

Living with someone always disappointed or frustrated with you is wearing, and reminds me a bit of growing up as a pastor’s daughter.

3. The MONEY–I LOVE that my kids are learning to depend on God daily for HIS provision.  I HATE feeling “beholden” to  people for what they give us.  It is hard to have an open honest talk with supporters when you are dependent on their support.    Someotimes I find myself being quiet or not engaging them specifically on issues knowing that we would not agree and wanting them to keep believing in me and supporting me.  How can I be myself with others and not “shade” what I say so that they will continue to believe in us?  It is a hard balance to find.

In the end, what encourages me is a quote from former CIU President, Roberston McQuilkin.  “It is easier to go to a consistent extreme than to live in the center of biblical tension.”  We are living “in the middle” of tension.  When people on both sides of the fence are disappointed, then we must be somewhere in the middle and sometimes getting it right.

“Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.”  Gal. 1: 10  NLT

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