This is the seventh post in a series on how to be an effective missionary, and I believe it be a very important one. An effective missionary learns from others. We are so blessed to have men who are “further down the ministry road than we are”. I am thankful form men like my pastor and other mentors who have guided me through the years and given me counsel time and time again. There are also other missionaries who are further along than I am. There are some who are just a few steps further than I am, and others still who are many years, even terms further along than I am. I seek their advice often.
But there is a problem missionaries can have. On deputation, we go from church to church sharing our burden, our desire, and our dreams. We sound like we know what we are doing, we sound like we know all about planting churches in a cross-cultural context, we sound like we have it all together, but none of this is true. We have a lot to learn, but after being in 100+ churches, if we are not careful, we end up being “so wise, that we become fools”. I think of two example in the Bible, Solomon was the wisest man in the world, and he “received instruction” from the lazy man (Proverbs 24:30-34) and from the simple man (Proverbs 7). If the wisest man in the world learned from foolish people, we too can learn from others. The other extreme is the fool whom Solomon wrote about throughout the book of Proverbs. A few lesson we learn about a fool is that he has no desire to learn (Proverbs 18:2), and that he already knows it all (Proverbs 12:15). The wisest man in the world learns from others, while the fool can’t learn from anyone because he already knows everything.
An effective missionary cannot be a fool, he must learn from others, and this means that the missionary purposely humbles himself and seeks the counsel of others. There is always room for improvement. My pastor often says, “We can improve almost everything, but there are only two things we cannot improve, our salvation and the Bible”. This means that everything I do as a missionary can be improved, and God has given me great men to help me do so.
So what does a missionary do to learn from others who are further down the road than he is? He asks others missionaries lots of questions. Learn to ask questions about everything, about evangelism, about where to rent a building, about special events, about how to work with others, about culture shock, about everything! We will never be effective if we don’t learn to learn from other brothers and sisters in Christ! Dear missionary, you are not alone, and you don’t have to go about the ministry alone, seek counsel from others, attempt great things, work hard, learn from others, ask lots of questions and do something great for God! To be effective missionaries, we must learn from others!