Identifying the Missionary ‘Call’

While God can certainly give us inner promptings, his will doesn’t need to be found because it was never lost. It’s in Scripture.

Are you “called” to be a missionary?

Discovering God’s will for your life can be daunting. What if I miss God’s best? What if it’s outside my comfort zone? What if I can’t hear God’s voice? These questions can create anxiety—or avoidance.

God doesn’t want us frozen by fear. While God can certainly give us inner “nudges,” his will doesn’t need to be found because it was never lost. His complete, entire will is contained in his Word:

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105)

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness… by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises…. (2 Peter 1:3a, 4a)

The Bible reveals God’s will: for us to disciple the nations. That’s the big picture. To be sure, Scripture doesn’t tell us everything. God’s plan for the details of our individual lives often secret (Deuteronomy 29:29). But if we simply obey what we know, he will guide us:

The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way. (Psalm 37:23)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

We cannot decipher God’s sovereign will for every detail of our future. It is futile to try—God, after all, “frustrates the plans of the peoples” (Psalm 33:10). But God has revealed his moral will—his commands. And within those parameters, we actually have freedom to choose what we enjoy.

Augustine wrote, “Love God and do as you please.” In other words, if we truly love God, we will aim to please him. John MacArthur says this means that living by God’s Scriptural will means being “saved, Spirit-filled, sanctified, submissive, and suffering” (Found: God’s Will, 54). That’s it.

“To know the will of God we need an open Bible and an open map.”
William Carey

Does that free us to live for our own pleasures? Hardly. “To whom much was given, of him much will be required” (Luke 12:48). We are accountable to live intentionally, wisely, and submissively for God’s glory, not selfish benefit. And if we trust that God’s will is sufficiently revealed in Scripture, we will begin to see his missionary heart bleeding through every page—and we will sense that we are all called in some way, whether as goers or senders, to engage that mission.

So as William Carey, missionary to India, stated, “To know the will of God we need an open Bible and an open map.” The question of calling isn’t one of waiting to see a flashing neon sign over a world map or feel a “liver-quiver” when someone mentions the right country—it’s about assessing your abilities, circumstances, and desires in light of the global need.

But you can’t assess these things alone, and I’ll address that in the next installment.

Editor’s Note: This article is part 3 in a series covering the basics of missions adapted from ABWE’s Guide for the Journey resource.