Most missionaries arrive on the mission field with a high level of idealism. Ideals are wonderful, but they are just that: ideals. All too often, our ideals form the basis of our expectations. We expect our fellow missionaries will have a certain level of maturity or will behave in a certain way. We expect the mission agency to function in a particular manner. We also expect God to do many wonderful things through our ministry as we step out in faith to serve Him. Usually our expectations are overinflated, and need to be modified to be realistic. For some who have arrived on the mission field full of idealism, this can be a shattering experience which can lead to bitterness and resentment toward the mission agency and toward fellow missionaries who fail to meet their expectations.
It is not necessarily wrong to be disappointed when expectations are not met. But it is wrong to let that disappointment fester into bitterness and resentment toward your fellow workers. Missionaries are human, and mission agencies are imperfect institutions. Working on the mission field is a high pressure lifestyle. -Taken from Re-Entry: Making The Transition From Missions To Life At Home
I’ve been on numerous short term missions trips. I’ve taken multiple missions classes. I know I shouldn’t have expectations when I go and serve on the mission field. And yet, the above is exactly what happens every time I go. Why? I always set the ministries at such a high level that it doesn’t take much for the ministry to topple from the great height I placed it.
I so need to learn this lesson. I so need to stop elevating people to such a high level. I set them up to disappoint me and then shout aha! I knew you would let me down! Then I feel justified in withdrawing, keeping myself away from them because they always let me down.
You know what I think? I think this is a clever device the enemy has been using against me all my life. I think he’s a liar and a thief. I think he loves it when he thinks I’ll just roll over and die from self pity. But he has another think coming. I know who I belong to. I know I am more than a conqueror in Christ. I may get knocked down, but I don’t stay down.
All this to say, I’m learning. I’m learning who I am. My identity is in Christ, not ministry or job or friends or family or the world. I’m learning to love people the way they are, not the way I expect them to be.