10 Characteristics of a Missionary

Have you ever wondered if missions is for you? Just the fact that you’re asking that question is an indication that God might be wanting you to explore more. Missionaries don’t have one personality type or skill set, but they do have a particular heart from God. While this is not an exhaustive list, it can be a starting point for identifying what a missionary looks like. Scroll through to see if you have the characteristics to go into a life of missions.

1. They want to make the world a better place. Do you read about tragedies in the news and want to do something about it? Missionaries have the desire to bring God’s goodness into every aspect of life, whether that’s serving at a soup kitchen, rebuilding homes damaged by flooding, or teaching children a song about God’s love.

2.Missionaries want to use their skills and talents for God. It doesn’t matter if they are a graphic designer, chef, writer, musician or nanny, missionaries want to use what they have to serve others and the kingdom of God. They know that God created them to uniquely impact the people in their lives and work within their passions with excellence.

3.They will eat anything. Missionaries love to explore different foods and will try anything with a smile on their face. They realize that even if their taste buds rebel, what’s at stake is greater than the food on the plate—it’s relationships with the people sitting around the table (or on the floor, depending).

4.They get excited when they hear a foreign language. Missionaries have a desire to learn new languages so they connect with people from different cultures and nations. They know even just speaking a couple of phrases in someone’s mother tongue can create a bridge. Hearing worship songs in another language sends shivers down their spine. They search for the beauty within each culture and are eager to speak with people from different nations.

5.Authentic community is important to them. Introversion or extroversion doesn’t matter, what missionaries have is a desire to do life with other Christians and then bring others into that community. They love people and desire to live a life with friends from multicultural backgrounds who challenge and encourage them to become closer to God.

6.They like to travel. Missionaries get excited by Jesus’ command to “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel.” They don’t mind long train rides, red-eye flights and rickshaw rides that take them to new places and people. But with our increasingly urban society, you often don’t have to travel far to reach the nations.

7.They don’t let awkward moments and risks stop them. Cross-cultural relationships can lead to some embarrassing moments, like getting directions wrong or saying something completely ridiculous in a foreign language. Missionaries know there is a learning curve, but they don’t hold back from reaching out and going where God is leading them. They are lifelong learners.

8.God’s love has changed them. Maybe it was early in their life or a recent revelation, but Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross has touched them in a deep way. They live from that place of a much-loved son or daughter, and want to share God’s love with others in a tangible way.

9.Missionaries are friendly. Once again, it’s not about personality, but about heart attitude. Missionaries love people and want to get to know their stories and be a part of people’s lives. Their interest and compassion for people may express itself in different ways, but a fundamental love of people is foundational to their lives.

10.They know they’re not perfect. And they know that’s okay. But they continue to follow after God anyway and walk each day in humility, always seeking to grow closer to Him and keeping that relationship central to their life.


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