I write this simple post today after having read my friend Will’s post about churches and short-term missions again. Any time I think about missions, I’m reminded of the pastor’s role in leading his church to be Great Commission-minded. In all my years of pastoring and studying churches, I have never seen a Great Commission church that is not led by a Great Commission pastor.
I wonder, though, why so many pastors don’t have a heartbeat for missions. We struggle to get some able-bodied pastors to take a short-term trip, much less consider a long-term commitment to the nations.
May I suggest one reason why I believe this is the case? I have no desire to be offensive here – and please forgive me if my writing suggests otherwise – but here is my thought: too many of us fear that missions work will cost us our opportunity for fame. To put it simply, it’s tough to be a denominational powerhouse when you live in a place where only God knows you’re there.
To be sure, it’s possible to be a Great Commission pastor and an influential leader. All of us know someone who meets both criteria, but those aren’t the leaders I’m addressing here. I’m writing to the other hundreds of thousands of church leaders who may never be a denominational leader – but who live in evangelical world where recognition on earth is sometimes more promoted than the blessings of obedience . . . where it’s almost hard not to fall into the traps. To those leaders, I say, “Don’t let the fleeting nature of fame keep you from the eternity-affecting global work of the gospel.”
To be honest, it might be that some of my current re-reading has convicted me here. Check out these words that have caught my attention:
“The depth of my pride is seemingly infinite . . . . And not unlike cancer, what I think is full recovery from pride is oftentimes only remission. Given the right conditions – perhaps a bit of success, a dash of praise, a flattering ‘friend,’ or a lack of accountability – the cancer returns.”
“Pastoral-ministry celebrity is a dangerous thing . . . . it is still tempting to listen to too much of your own press.”
“How do you carry a cross professionally?”
These words slice into my soul, I’m afraid. As long as I want to make a name for myself, I will not want to be hidden among the masses of the lost in a faraway place. Even a short-term trip that might begin to move my heart in the direction of the nations is simply too much risk.
Beginning with me, may God help us get over ourselves.