When you set out on a journey in missions you expect to be stretched, but I didn’t realize how much so until I was in the thick of it. There are two kinds of people in this world (well, maybe a few more than two): those who wear their heart on their sleeve and those who stick it in a box, take it out back and bury it deep in the ground (think Once Upon A Time if you’ve seen it). I fall into the latter category, I not only avoid my emotions around other people, but I don’t really like to deal with them on my own either. However, along this journey I’ve begun to realize that I have an incredible opportunity to impact youth and young adults who are going through (or will go through) some of the same things as me on their own journey in missions so I wanted to share this for them.
I think that I come across to a lot of people as super secure in who I am, and in some ways that is true. I am secure in my intelligence–I graduated high school with a gpa of 3.96, community college with a 3.91, and university with a 3.96. I am secure in my abilities–I am hard-working, successful at pretty much anything I put my mind to, and learn new skills quickly. I know who I am, but I am deeply insecure that other people won’t see all the good that I have to offer and even more so I am deeply insecure that I am forgettable. For the longest time I wouldn’t send friend requests to people I hadn’t seen within the past few weeks because I would stress out that they wouldn’t remember who I was and that would mean that I wasn’t a valuable part of their life. When I began my partnership development journey I feared that I would be an inconvenience to people. That if I called them on the phone I would be bothering them, if I asked them to coffee that they would think their time too valuable, that if I asked for their financial commitment they would think mine not a worthy enough cause. In theory I knew that these things aren’t true, but each time I got ready to pick up the phone my insecurity overwhelmed me and I came up with an excuse as to why I couldn’t, shouldn’t.
I didn’t recognize how much my insecurity had affected me until January of this year, and it was in February that I began to let God work in my heart to change that. It began with an email from an area pastor who made sure that I was invited to the pastors’ meeting and then proceeded to make sure that I was introduced to all of the pastors in his area. Then it was a second-hand account of a pastor who had shared about how well I did at his church. Then it was a youth pastor who continually went to bat for me and whose church now supports me for almost 4% of my monthly budget.
Why is this important?
I was/am a little afraid that this comes off like I just want talk about how great I am, but that’s not it at all. I share this because I want to be transparent along this journey. I had to recognize and embrace my God-given strengths which help form my identity in Him in order to overcome the insecurities whispered into my ear by the enemy, he who want to see me stop short, to focus on my weakness. Growing up missionaries were treated like heroes who had no fear and could do no wrong, but really missionaries (and us missionary associates) are imperfect, sinful (quit judging, we’re all sinful it’s a part of the human condition), insecure but also passionate, hard-working, and appreciative of our teams. This journey isn’t easy, for those who go it means overcoming insecurity, independence, and comfort.
Maybe you’re like me and you struggle with some deep-seated insecurities that have kept you from pursuing the call that God has placed on your life. Maybe you think that the title missionary (associate) is reserved for those so confident in their calling that they couldn’t possibly be afraid or insecure.
About a month ago I was talking to a friend and she was telling me that she felt ashamed that she had withdrawn from serving at her church because she had other things in her life that were more pressing. I told her that shame is never from God (that does not mean that God does not bring correction). A couple days later I realized what a dummy I was being (my words exactly if I remember correctly) because I had allowed shame and insecurity to creep into my life and pull up a chair at the table. SHAME AND INSECURITY ARE NOT FROM GOD! They are tools of the devil to keep us from furthering the work that we are called to, and as Christians we have power over the devil so quit allowing him a foothold in your life (and I am speaking to myself as much as you).
Press on, find your identity in God and who He has uniquely gifted you to be, and don’t allow your insecurities to run your life. It isn’t an easy process and it’s not a quick one either, but with God you can overcome the obstacles before you, and that includes your insecurities.