A Heart for Mission
And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ Matthew 25:40
Over a lengthy term of my life in education, I have heard many parents’ dreams for their children. They, of course, have ranged from such things as success in careers, happiness with life, financial security and finding true love. I can only think of one conversation among hundreds, where a father said his greatest wish for his daughter was that she would become a missionary. If you are thinking, “better his kids than mine,” you are not alone because that was my thought at the time of this conversation years ago.
There is a little more to this story. Dan had also been a missionary several times, both as a child and an adult. His father was a doctor, and his mother, a nurse. They spent their entire lives on mission trips, too. You might say serving God was the family business. I remember Dan telling me that he wanted his children to see the same sort of world he did; a world stricken with poverty and disease, a world discouraged and distraught, but also a world full of hope and promise. Knowing this world brought Dan closer to God as it had with his parents and, by now, certainly has with his kids. Dan, however, didn’t see the world as a messy place. He just looked around and saw Jesus. He saw his Savior time and time again in the least of these.
I mention Dan’s story as a reminder to us all. Whether young or old, parent or not, we all have a duty once we enlist in the church. God calls us all to see Jesus in everyone, to love our neighbor as ourselves, and to spread the Word. We can listen to sermons and read books. We can dream of making a difference in the world. We can send money to starving children. These are all wonderful and amazing things. But, I am growing convinced that if we want to inspire the next generation with a heart for mission, it comes in lessons that are caught more than in the lessons that are taught. We can talk and talk and talk about how important it is to love our neighbor, but if those around us don’t see it in action the words are meaningless. If the reach of our faith extends no further than a Sunday morning service, then too, the reach of our servant heart will be only a fraction of its potential. The next generation’s faith will only mirror our own.
My friend has a heart for mission because God has inspired him to continue in his family’s ways. I have a growing heart for mission because the more I see, the more I do, and the more I do, the more I see. If you are struggling to find a heart for mission, if you are trying to instill selflessness in your children or family, or if you just think maybe God has more planned for your life than the status quo, I have some simple advice. Roll up your sleeves and get involved. Just like Dan’s spirit descended through his parents and then into his children (and likely someday into his grandchildren) we need to pass on a heart for mission to the children in our care. The fact is that we all learn best though doing. So let’s all do something!