Saturday, November 18

What is one of the most aggravating things about being a missionary?

Well there are several things that aggravate me about being a missionary, but surely one of the most frustrating is the often lack of response we get from the people God has given us to work with.

How often we will...
  • organize events,
  • call people,
  • set up meetings,
  • leave messages,
  • send emails,
  • pray about a matter,
  • count on people for something,
  • plan a training event...
only to end up waiting for people to respond who never do? It is such a disappointment, and let down!

Jon Dale linked to an article by Michael Hyatt on the Secret of Success. While coming from a secular viewpoint, this is nevertheless a great article on the importance of being responsive.
What's the secret to your success? As a CEO, I get asked this a lot. And, I'm always a little embarrassed by it...I received an email from one of my readers. He [asked]... If you had to boil it down to one thing, Mr. Hyatt, what would you recommend to a young, aspiring person such as myself?"

I'm not sure I could boil it down to one thing. Life isn't usually that simple. But if I really, really had to boil it down to one thing, I would say this: responsiveness.

So many people I meet are unresponsive. They don't return their phone calls promptly. They don't answer their emails quickly. They don't complete their assignments on time. They promise to do something and never follow through. They have to be reminded, prodded, and nagged. This behavior creates work for everyone else and eats into their own productivity. Sadly, they seem oblivious to it... [read the rest of the article here.]
I wonder how God feels at our unresponsiveness to Him? How He feels when we don't bother to spend time with him? When His Spirit impresses us with something and we shrug it off and go on our way? Our lack of immediate, radical response to Him surely is a source of "holy frustration" with us, His unresponsive children.

God, make us responsive to Thee, and to those around us you bring into our lives.


Darrell said...

Guy I TOTALLY can relate to what this!!! I used to feel like I was loosing my mind with the kind of people you describe. Especially since God has made me hyper-responsive. However this frustration is what God used to transform my prayer life. I remember reading that Hudson Taylor said that he moved men through prayer. I have come to expect that in general people will not be responsive. I can only tell them something so many times. It’s not like they are my children and I can bring consequences to bear if they are flakes. So now, most of the time, I have spent a significant time praying about something before I bring something to someone, and then after I make that call or email I spend a significant time praying about it. What I have found is that I am more often surprised by how people follow through, and I am not feeling frustrated as often. I see more and more that my greatest purpose is to intercede for people so that they can do what they need to do. It is like the Air Force laying down suppression fire so the ground troops can advance. Before I felt frustrated because I felt like there was nothing I could do to make things happen that needed to happen. Now I know where to channel all that energy. I laugh now because I know that my prayers have been heard and people who used to be the worst flakes are now much better.

I also have found that lovingly confronting people’s unresponsiveness is profitable. Letting them know how much them ignoring me frustrates me often is an eye opener for them.

In the end, like you have written me, Jesus is the one who builds His church and only God can make the seed grow.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure why you say, "coming from a secular viewpoint." Hyatt is the CEO of Thomas Nelson, the world's largest Christian publisher. He is a deeply committed Christian.

GuyMuse said...


I like that idea of "moving men through prayer." So many times, as the post suggests, we try to move men through our own effort, and end up frustrated as a result. I too am slowly learning to step back and let God work. But, oh, how nice it is when you run into responsive people who get right back with you on things!


Thanks for the heads up on Hyatt. I did not know who he is, so appreciate your correction!

Debbie said...

I so like Darrel's response. Hudson Taylor was also a person that I model my prayer life by. He was amazing in how he prayed and viewed things. Guy, this is one more thing to add to my prayer list. Thank you for these kind of posts and Darrel thank you for that kind of a response. :)

Bryan Riley said...

I think a frustrating part of missions is the average person's view of what a missionary is. Many simply see missions as impossible for them because they aren't a bible scholar or a teacher/preacher or they are scared that God will immediately send them to the middle of the worst place they can imagine without any means and therefore they just "know" it's not for them. They don't live in the reality that if God called them to it He will give them the means and the joy to accomplish His purpose. Also, there isn't a skill set out there that doesn't fit in the Great Commission somewhere.

GuyMuse said...


You bring up a subject of what needs to be posted sometime by somebody. What is a missionary? How do we define the missionary task? There are a whole lot of definitions floating around out there about the missionary task. Maybe you can be part of shedding some light on this subject. :)