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Field Story Recruitment

How to go without developing a Savior complex

“Wow, you are giving it all up to go to another country. Those poor people, I hope you can really help them improve their church and community. You are the perfect person to go.”

When a missionary prepares to go to the field, they hear all sorts of things. Everything from the statements above to people telling them not to go, “it’s so dangerous!” They go through a series of emotions, thoughts, and actions and at times, those influence the foundation for how they will think and behave when they arrive on the field.

Over time, it becomes very easy to think and behave with a level of confidence, that if not checked, can easily turn into a savior complex. We must be reminded that the Lord is the one who calls and equips, it is nothing of our own ability but all His doing and leading in our lives.

People often cannot believe anyone would give up their lives in the United States to go live among the economically and spiritually “poor”. The sacrifice is too much for some that they elevate the missionary to saint status, believing they are super holy, at times enlarging the missionaries’ sense of self up to an unhealthy level. It is the responsibility of the missionary to maintain true humility, modeling the teaching from Philippians 2, battling thoughts of self-importance.  

In Philippians 2:5 we see that even Jesus did not use his status to his own advantage, “Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage.” Maintaining this humility among the body of believers and among those we are ministering to is very important. We are told to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12). The believer is to produce fruit because of their heavenly status, through the strength given to them by God and God alone (Phil 2:13).

Confidence in the call should be marked by love, unity, and humility. Below is a list of characteristics, that in my experience, should mark the heart and behavior of a missionary.

May we be missionaries who are characterized by humble submission to our Savior that plays out in every facet of life. Some practical characteristics of that missionary would be:

  • Embraces their own brokenness.
  • Sees themselves as whole and their host culture as broken.
  • Has a robust relationship with the Lord, defined by knowledge of the Scriptures.
  • Listens to others and considers differing points of view.
  • Includes national leaders and teammates in ministry planning.
  • Submits to a higher authority.
  • Has meaningful friendships with nationals.
  • Values their host culture and is willing to adapt to another way of doing

May we all remember Philippians 2:13, “For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose.” May we be reminded of our need to depend deeply on our Savior and humbly submit to Him and be in awe as He continues to work through us to reach the unreached around the world.



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