Why People Don’t Get the Motivation for Missions

Recently I was reading a quote from secular author James Clear which said,
“Some of the major drivers of human behavior…

  • Safety: Does it provide peace of mind or reduce risk?
  • Sex: Does it help them find love or make love?
  • Convenience: Does it save time or energy?
  • Social norms: Does it help them get along with others?
  • Status: Does it improve their standing or help them gain approval?

…which all fit into the larger category of self-interest: How does it serve the person?”

That quote got me to thinking that this perfectly illustrates why people don’t understand why us “crazy missionaries” would want to go to the mission field. It flies in the face of self-interest; therefore, it flies in the face of human behavior, and it’s drivers. I want to accomplish and spell out three things in this writing: 

1.) Why these drivers won’t work for missions

2.) Why we as Christians are against self-interest 

3.) What is the driver of world evangelism in the heart of a Christian



Missions isn’t a safe business! Especially as we as posh American millennial and Gen Zer’s see it, we’ve been condition to experience life from iPhones and Macs as opposed to outside in the wild so much of missions just sounds downright dangerous. People we don’t know may hurt our feelings. Learning a language may make us look stupid. New sickness and disease may hospitalize us, or even worse, bring us to mortality. And who knows, terrorists and criminals may even martyr us. I mean, it really could happen! 

The problem is that safety as it is related to “feeling safe” is perceptive and based upon feeling that the people and environment around us won’t hurt us. The reality is that most mission fields are completely safe. Moving to another country in today’s society is no more dangerous than moving to another state. But once again, “feeling safe” is all in our head. And in our fear-laden society, safety has become a God. Let’s see how God views safety!

“He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap. As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all. In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.” Ecclesiastes 11:4–6

If we sit around waiting for the sky to be perfect, we will never reap. If we wait around to see how safe other countries are, filled with lost souls barrelling into a godless eternity in a literal Hell, never giving glory to our Lord Jesus Christ, we will NEVER SEE THE WORLD EVANGELIZED!!!

Look at the words in Mark 8:34-35

“And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.”

Jesus commanded us to deny ourselves. This means to deny our safety, refuse to live in fear, and do what God has commanded us to do! We will not save our lives through safety. We will save our lives by losing it for Christ’s sake! 

Safety cannot be a motivator for world evangelism, and it must not be a deterrent either. As believers, we must decide not to sit in safety but to run to the nations for Christ, no matter the danger, real or perceived. 


Missions isn’t sexy! That’s a real tweetable quote right there, isn’t it? In his description of sex as a motivator, Clear describes it as, “Does it help you find love or make love?” I want to address both as not being a motivator for missions.

First, let’s look at finding love. The reality is being a missionary might cost an unmarried young person their girlfriend or boyfriend because going to the nations isn’t appealing to some. And by some, I mean all that are not sold out to Christ. Missions isn’t sexy! No girl panders to her friend over how attractive the young, single missionary student is who wants to travel the world for the cause of Christ! And no young man panders to his friends about the girl who is sold out to Jesus and wants to raise a family on the mission field UNLESS that young man or young woman is dedicated to Christ and His commission. Young missionary men find their wives in the churches with girls who are wholly dedicated to the Lord Jesus Christ and his cause. Though missions may make your prospects for marriage limited, it may just limit you to God’s will for your life. Let’s look at what the Bible says on if world evangelism limits your dating pool:

“But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment. For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.” 1 Corinthians 7:6–9

The Apostle Paul is saying here that his preference would be for the unmarried to stay unmarried. His purpose for this is given in 1 Corinthians 7:32, 

“But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord:”

Therefore, Paul would be fine with unmarried young men who could serve Jesus with all their vigor, saying they could remain unmarried and pure (which Paul gave as one of the primary reasons for marriage; to keep you for fornication and sin). Paul’s thinking on this shows that the Bible isn’t that concerned with the dating pool. Now, this isn’t to say that the Bible is anti-marriage or for singleness. A young person shouldn’t be obsessed with finding a mate but rather obsessed with following Christ. When they follow Christ wholeheartedly, they will find the mate of God’s choosing! Looking for love cannot be a motivator for missions and should not deter a young person from going to the nations for Christ.

Now let us look at “making love” as a motivator for going to the mission field. This one should be an easy one because it appeals to God’s view of marriage and sexuality for all believers, not just Christians. 

“Drink waters out of thine own cistern, And running waters out of thine own well. Let thy fountains be dispersed abroad, And rivers of waters in the streets. Let them be only thine own, And not strangers’ with thee. Let thy fountain be blessed: And rejoice with the wife of thy youth. Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; Let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; And be thou ravished always with her love. And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman, And embrace the bosom of a stranger? For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, And he pondereth all his goings.” Proverbs 5:15–21

God simply puts it that a man is to only enjoy making love with one woman, that one woman being his wife. Men are to run from sexual immorality, which includes any sexual act outsides of the bonds of this relationship. 
A man doesn’t go to the mission field looking to make love or find a lover. He goes to show the love of Christ to lost sinners! Making love cannot be a motivator for missions, nor should it be a deterrent. Some would say, “I’d serve Jesus, but I’d have to live a Holy and separated lifestyle, giving up sexual sins like sleeping around and pornography.” Oh, but Christ is worthy of us being Holy as He is Holy and living our lives away from sin and unto Him!


Missions isn’t easy; therefore, it is not convenient! Going to the mission field is not an exercise in the easiest way of life but rather an exercise in obedience to Christ! We will not retread covered ground in an attempt to brief on these subjects, but we cannot use convenience as a motivator for the same reason we cannot use safety. We are not to look for safe or easy but rather for obedience to Christ. Missions isn’t easy; it doesn’t save time or energy. As a matter of fact, it exerts much time and energy, but it is still worthy of doing. Though convenience isn’t a motivator for missions, it should not deter us either.

Social Norms

Missions is normal! Sadly enough, it should be at least amongst the church, but it’s not. Think about it like this. The world population is thought to be 7.8 billion people currently. Amongst that number, think about how few are truly born again believers. Past that, think of how few born again believers are sold out and willing to be in ministry period. Zero that down to how few in ministry are going to the foreign mission field. You will see that missionaries aren’t considered socially normal by any group of people, including the church. Missionaries are honestly thought to be weird people! People don’t get it! But this is what the Bible says about fitting in: 

“If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” John 15:19

As Christians, we aren’t made to fit in, so when our life choice to go to the mission field isn’t normal, we should have learned to be okay with that by now. We must understand that social norm is not a motivator for missions, and it also can’t be a deterrent. 


Missions won’t make you a big shot! Most missionaries are not known – most are not touted. Just like with social norms, missionaries don’t fit in enough to raise to status. For the reason that we have already tread this ground, we will not restate this point. We will just say that status is not a motivator for missions but should not be a deterrent for it either.


We as Christians can’t use this world’s motivators for missions because the heart of all these motivators is self-interest. So often, we try to pick what we do because of what is best for us, and that is not the Christian way. The Bible says for us to deny ourselves and to be willing to give our life for Christ. This call of denying ourselves is our call to kill self-interest in our hearts.

We need to quit pandering to our own wants and whims because we are believers! Our call is obedience and Christ. We cannot wait for the interest of self-motivators of self-interest to rib us into Christian service but look into the scripture and the heart of God and hear the call to follow Christ and obey Him to reach the lost masses.


Here I don’t plan to give a great explanation but rather a list and the scriptures to prove it. I pray that the Holy Spirit will use these thoughts and text to motivate you to give your life for World Evangelism!

  1. The reality of God and the desire for the world to know He is real. (“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” Genesis 1:1)
  2. The glory of God and recruiting others to bring Him glory. (1 Corinthians 10:31, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”)
  3. The reality of Hell and love for sinners headed there. (Revelation 21:8, “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”)
  4. The command of Christ (Mark 16:15, “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”)
  5. The desire to hear Christ named in all nations. (Revelation 7:9, “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;”)

I hope that here at the end, you realize that the world’s motivators won’t motivate you to the mission field, so quit looking at them. Understand that self-denial as Christ commands pushes us away from self-interest and that the motivators for us are found in Scriptures and not in our self or society. I hope you look at those five verses and let the Holy Spirit answer this question, “SHOULD I GO?”

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