“You’re the lead pastor now…doesn’t that give you a ‘Get Out Of Going On Mission Trips’ Free Card or something like that?”
Ahhhh, the spiritual gift of cynicism. My buddy and I for years had observed that there were very few Senior/Lead Pastors that went on mission trips. I confessed to him that I now understand why. It’s work.
As a youth pastor, I could focus on the trip for months in advance. Details and plans, training the team, coaching the volunteers. Working out with our host ministry the exact details of the trip. Making sure I had my talks just perfect for the cross-cultural experience.
As a lead pastor – I don’t have that luxury of single focus. Or I’m not skilled enough at my job to do that. Point is that teaching, counseling, leading, coaching, and everything else that goes into this job is pretty demanding. I don’t even write as much as I used to. So Monday was a brutally hard day as the reality that my flight to Brazil left in less than 6 days hit me square in the face. I’ve got a growing list of things that need to be done and there is a part of me that just wants to walk on the plane with nothing but the clothes on my back because there it’s fairly overwhelming.
So why still do this?
1. The call to make disciples of all nations was an order, not a suggestion. I’m supposed to be a part of that.
2. While I understand that I can be a part of that by supporting financially other people who do this, I’m the lead pastor of a church that believes in GOING and DOING missions in all kinds of cultures. I MUST BE and DO what I expect others to BE and DO.
3. I love it. Yes, it’s work. Yes, I’m fairly stressed right now but it will pass…the minute I smell Brazil and eat a Pao de Queijo.
4. I need the reminder that God is bigger than Topeka, Kansas, United States.
5. It changes me every year…and I need that. It’s amazing how clear God speaks in a foreign language.
6. I can be a learner, follower. I’m not in charge on these trips. I follow. Want to feel completely out of control and totally reliant upon God with no safety net? Go on an international mission trip where your entire plan of the trip (that took a year to make) can be altered radically within 15 minutes of landing inside the country. It’s completely freeing and terrifying.
I could list about another 14 more reasons but the truth of the matter is this – all that I need to get done by Sunday morning will get done. The stuff that I don’t NEED to get done, won’t. And that will be okay. God will still be God and He will still change everything the minute we land. And that will be okay as well.
To NOT go would be worse. If I have to pick where I think my time is best spent in coaching and mentoring – it’s on a mission trip. It’s not even close to anything else. I’ve seen more life change in a shorter amount of time on mission trips – more so than summer camps, more so than retreats.
So…that’s part of the reason why. I don’t really have time to explain all of the reasons.