Jamie Wright: So, You Wanna Be A Missionary

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Jamie Wright is the author of the popular blog:   The following is a post of hers from December 6th, 2012.

Despite the fact that I have made my failings at being a missionary quite clear, younger folks still ask me for advice pretty often. It’s like they go, “I have questions about being a missionary. Hmmm… I know! I’ll ask the very worst one!” …. Ooookaay.

So here’s the Very Worst Missionary’s Very Best Advice for Missionarying:

Are you ready for it?

Get a job!

Then? Work the hell out of that job for three years.

Honestly, this is the best advice I can give you.

I know. So disappointing.

But here’s why:

A “real job” – yes, that’s what people in ministry call work outside of the church. Scary! – anyway, a real job will teach you things you’ll need to know in the mission field. Important stuff, like work ethic, sustainability, productivity, and value.

A real job can expose you to real conflict management (and not the lame “Christian” kind they’ll teach in missionary training. Honestly. Our track record at dealing with conflict is pretty horrible).

A real job will teach you to live on a real budget. Because if you say to your real boss, “Hey, can I have some more money for a new car this week?” They’ll say “Um…No.” And then you’ll have to save your money, like a normal person, and buy the car later. Or not buy the car. … I know. It’s cRaZy!

A real job will help you learn not to be an entitled, self-righteous bunghole. Because if you act like that at a real job, they will kick your ass to the curb.

A real job will help you understand time management. Because, your real schedule will not likely allow you to spend three hours every Friday afternoon with your friends or your kids, – even if you call it “discipleship” on Facebook. Actually, that reminds me, your real job won’t let you call any time you spend on Facebook “work”. Not “support development”, not “communication”, not “team building”… Nope. No matter how you say it, Real Job does not approve.

A real job will allow you to support a missionary. Yeah. You should know how that feels.

But, most important?… A real job is a real mission field. So learn some freakin’ respect.

And the other thing I tell people is this (and it’s a doozie!):

Understand the difference between wanderlust and
wanting to be a missionary.

The world is AMAZING! God’s creation is simply ASTOUNDING! It should be seen and respected. But there is a big difference between seeing and serving. And the Church does not exist to fulfill your desire to see the world.
I totally believe that this planet, this place God spoke into being, deserves our reverence. If it’s calling out to you, then go, and revere it with all your heart! But don’t use the Church to pay your way. And don’t use your participation in weak or broken ministry as a means to collect stamps in your passport.


Get a job. Save your money. And then take a trip to somewhere incredible. Trust me, your tourist dollars will be greatly appreciated!


And this is where I bail, because, beyond what I’ve just said, I think the journey to becoming a missionary is highly unique and personal. It’s spirit-led, prayer dependent, driven by hard work and perseverance, and it’s not always awesome or easy.


If you still want to be a missionary, then maybe it’s time for you to find a healthy ministry (which means asking lots of good questions and being mindful of the answers) and ask them how you can get on board with what they’re doing.


That’s my advice. ….What?! I never said it would be good advice.


 So, Blessings as you go. 


To work.


Aaaat a real job.  😉


You can read this article on Jamie Wright’s website by clicking here.

1 Comment to “Jamie Wright: So, You Wanna Be A Missionary”

  1. Anna Hunt says :

    Thank you, Jamie. Excellent, wise words. As someone who feels “called” (what does that really mean?) to missions, has travelled and lived overseas, and is currently both working at a full-time job and supporting others in ministry, I have learned that sometimes it can be hardest to live out your witness within the context where everything is most familiar. The idea of sharing your faith and walking out a life that is consistent with what you say you believe loses its glamour when you’re doing it in your home country, among your friends, family members, and co-workers. Which I think is crucial, because too-often the foreign “mission field” can become sexy-i-fied (yep, I just tried to make up a word) into a life that involves risky, heart-stopping adventures and saintly sacrifices. Yes, occasionally it includes those things. But more frequently I’ve found that the “adventures” are replaced by day-to-day rhythms and responsibilities, and the sacrifices reveal less of the saint and more of the human, fleshly struggle within. It is important to be excited, passionate, and idealistic — but perhaps it is even more important to be consistent, faithful, and committed. When life gets hard, when it is “boring,” and when everything we thought we knew about ourselves and about God is being challenged. First at our homes, in our jobs, with our families, and among our friends. And then, maybe, in “full-time ministry” (shouldn’t our lives really just be “full-time ministries” in any context?) nationally or overseas. People are always watching. We don’t have to “become” a missionary — we already are.