The fourth Missionary Mistake I have made and would like to present is concerning Self Discipline.
It did not take me long to realize that when I arrived on the mission field, I was my own boss. No one was there to tell me what time I had to wake up, no one told me I had to work a certain amount of hours, check in or check out, visit, study, etc. The truth is, I could really live it up and make up stories in my prayer letters …. or I could practice some simple steps in self discipline.
As being my own boss, I must realize a few things. I personally have family members, friends and churches that support my family and I here on the field. I could get away with many things, … but is it really right of me to “live it up” and not do my job. Of course we have people praying for us, churches sacrificing for us, Argentines depending on us, etc, but the biggest reality point for me is Proverbs 15:3 – “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.” I can look at what I want on the internet, spend my time how I want during the day, be lazy, etc, … but the eyes of the Lord are watching me.
There are moments I would like to “head to the house” and lock the door … but I wonder, if everyone had my work ethic, would things get done? Would the ministry go forward, would the young men grow, would things die when I left? If I do not discipline myself, the ministry and myself will become stagnant (truly meaning, “having no current or flow and often having an unpleasant smell as a consequence”).
Since I am my own boss, I must begin with self discipline, I must begin to place some rules. Just as a person that is self-employed, I must work late if it is required, work longer, or work harder to get things off the ground. As a missionary, that means that the men I am helping have access whatever the hour may be. I have woken up early, I have left late at night after being in bed, I have wiped a mans tears in his bed after his wife dies, I have picked them up late at night when needed, I have given them groceries, …. I have learned to love them whatever hour of the day. Although I have been blessed to help many times, I see how many other times I have failed. I have failed because the pillow felt good, I have failed because I did not study, I have failed … because I was not self disciplined in my own life.
Therefore I challenge you with ideas that have helped me. If you are married, make sure that your wife understands what your responsibility is and agrees with you, then sit down and tell the Lord and yourself that you will take your job seriously. Think about it, who else gets paid for getting to preach and teach others. Who else gets to see new converts baptized, grow and begin to preach … and I am paid to do so. If I have such a great privilege, how much greater is my responsibility. So join me sitting down and renewing your commitment to do what it takes as a servant for the Lord.