It has been stated that life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to those things and their consequences. There is much truth to that in life and especially concerning Deputation. I am sure none of these are original! I learned or heard them from someone else but have been very much personalized over the last 16 months. I pray these will help you as you serve our Lord on Deputation.
D – Discern why you are on deputation. If the total focus of your time, travel and teaching is to get money you will be sorely disappointed when no love offering comes your way. You are given the opportunity to stir, motivate and encourage others about the greatest thing ever and that is world evangelism. Would you rather have a “good love offering” or have a young man surrender to the call to preach? If God can’t use you to minister to the lives of people on deputation, what makes you think that He would use you to minister to others once you get to the field?
E – Educate yourself as to your responsibility. Many missionaries complain of being on deputation for so long yet they have been in relatively few churches. The question is not how many months have you been on deputation but how many churches have you been in? I have met brothers who have been on deputation for a year and a half and have 30% of their support. That is not the problem, the problem is that they have only been in 75 different churches….that is only one new church a week! That is the problem! All of us will have to go to around 200 churches….you must decide how quickly you want to do that! Call, fill your schedule, write letters and learn how to present your ministry. Try to average 12+ meetings a month and once you are in a church present your work by God’s grace in such a way that they will never forget your name and the field you are going to. Again, learn how to do a calendar, make phone calls, schedule your meetings, present your work, carry yourself, talk to pastor’s, etc. God will do His part…will we do ours? Be careful not to blame God for something you were responsible for.
P – Protect your family time. You may have to get up earlier or stay up later but your family still needs you. I have been in full time ministry for 16 years and have never experienced the strain on my marriage and my family like deputation has done. My personal opinion is that when I pastored, I carried in all inside and on myself. Deputation takes its toll on everyone. There is no shielding the children from the scrutiny, long drives, dead services, etc. On deputation it wears on everyone and no one has the opportunity to be oblivious to it. Safeguard your marriage and children. Sir, it may be your attitude is not what it ought to be because the attitude of your wife is not what it ought to be. As the man helps your family to have the attitude they should and you will be surprised how it will help your attitude.
U – Understand you are not in competition with other missionaries. When you go into a conference they are not your enemies, they are fellow- soldiers. Stop comparing your love offerings, monthly reports, gifts, meeting, etc. to them. It is amazing how quickly your attitude can change when you find out another missionary got twice the love offering you did or scheduled a meeting after one phone call when you have called the same church a thousand times. We need to learn to rejoice with a missionary family when God has showered down blessings on them.
T – Thank those who assist you on your way. Write a thank you letter for the pastor giving you a meeting and then send him a thank you card after the meeting. (Your card could be post cards from your field to remind him of where you are going.) Thank individuals who invest in your ministry. Do not ever take someone’s sacrifice to help you for granted no matter how meager or humble it may seem. Attitudes are ruined on deputation when we think we deserve their time, money and help. Expect nothing and be thankful for everything.
A – Admit your own faults. Deputation is an opportunity for God in heaven to have His way in and through your life. Stop blaming the churches, pastors, children and wife….look in the mirror and admit there are things in your character that need a touch from God. Be man enough to say, “It is my fault.”, “I am sorry.”, “I was wrong.” Instead of, “What could the church have done differently?” Ask yourself, “What could I have done differently?”
T – Try not to get into needless debt. Be careful of taking the check or cash and putting all your expenses on a credit card and blowing the money at the same time. Financial pressure can ruin your day…make sure you did not bring it onto yourself. Keep a handle on what is coming in and what is going out. Many on deputation get a bad attitude over money they think they should have gotten but it may be God saw they were not a good steward of what they were getting so why should He give them more?
I – Insist on times alone with God. There are times when ones schedule is very demanding; it is then that you must seek first the kingdom of God . Refuel your life in the Word and in prayer. If you are working as you ought, you will constantly be giving to the spiritual needs of others. Be very careful that the Word of God does not become ordinary in your life. Let it truly be your life to quicken your spirit each and every day. Most of the time a bad attitude comes from not walking close to God.
O – Obey the Pastor. He has graciously allowed you to enter the church God has given him the responsibility of and to preach in his pulpit. Stop grumbling how you think he ought to treat you and honor him as the man of God. This is not about “what is right” but about you having a disposition that is pleasing to God. I can not control the how or the why of a pastor degrading me but I can control my mouth and heart toward him. Be careful that you do not train your children to bad mouth the man of God because one day the man of God they bad mouth may be you. Follow his time schedule whatever he gives you take two minutes less. Be a help to the pastor and his church….as you help the church one day when the church is able I believe the church will help you.
N – Never judge how your meeting will go with a church based on the testimony of another missionary. If theirs went badly then you will go in thinking, “This is going to stink!” (and it probably will because of your attitude.) If theirs went really well and the church helped them in a major way, you will be disappointed if they do not do the same for you. Then your family gets to put up with your sorry attitude all the way home. God is going to do different things, in different places with different people. Let God be God when you go into a meeting and see what He does!
By no means is this all inclusive! These are only a few areas that you will deal with that has the potential of changing your focus and ruining your disposition on deputation. Men if we fail on deputation, what will we do in language school and starting churches in a foreign culture? May God use deputation as a foundation to build a great work all over the world through Missionaries just like you!