When you’re a carpenter, people pay you to build things out of wood. Mechanics earn their living by fixing cars. Authors are paid for writing books, lawyers bill for their counsel, and teachers are compensated for teaching.
What is a missionary paid for? There’s really no tangible service being performed, and we don’t produce any material goods. The people who pay my salary will likely never even meet me, much less benefit from my services. Nevertheless, they give.
I’m humbled by the sacrifice and generosity of those who support us on the field. But there’s something strange about missions offerings. Many supporters talk about missions money as though by giving, they’re doing me a favor. I’ve had a number of conversations with church leaders who talk about their missions offerings like they were a big gift to me, their charity case. Again, I am grateful for the sacrifice of those who give, but money given to missions is supposed to be given to God.
Thanks. Really. But don’t do me any favors. If God called me to the field, He will provide everything needed to keep me here. Since He doesn’t need your money, I don’t either.
People support missions for lots of different reasons. Many feel some sense of obligation. Some give to satiate their guilt. Others give as an act of worship. The pious give out of pity and duty. I’m sure certain people feel led by God to send their money, and it’s obvious (to me) that most give out of their own kindness and generosity.
If giving money to support missions keeps you from actually being involved personally in what God is doing around the world, you should keep your money.