“What’s it like to be a missionary?”
It’s a question I’ve gotten many times before, especially on furlough. I’m often tempted to reply with a quick, “Oh, it’s great!” but that’s not the full truth. And yet something always makes me hesitate to talk about the hard parts.
Maybe it’s because I’m afraid of what people will think of me. Maybe it’s because I don’t always feel like diving into the messy parts. Maybe it’s because I don’t want to admit that I don’t have this whole MK thing down yet.
Have you ever felt that way? Are you afraid to talk about the hard parts of your life? The painful parts? The fact that you struggle just like everyone else?
I think it’s a natural human response to want to preserve our self-image, to highlight the positive, and to sweep the negative under the rug a little bit. Whether it’s from fear of what people will think of us or even expectations from others (whether spoken or unspoken), we have this urge to put our best foot forward.
The Bible challenges that view though. “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other,” James 5:16 (NIV) commands us. Now, I don’t think that means we should confess every last sin in front of the whole church. But what it does mean is to cultivate an attitude of humility and openness in the church.
Paul himself admitted that he was the worst of sinners (1 Tim. 1:15). Even though he was one of the greatest apostles in the Bible, he confessed that sin was a constant struggle for him (Rom. 7:15–20). He was humble enough to admit that he was still human and imperfect.
Evidently then, weakness isn’t always a bad thing. Let’s talk about three reasons why, as Christians, we should regularly remind ourselves of our weakness.
1. Recognizing our weakness points us back to God.
When I walked through depression in 2020, I became starkly aware of my utter weakness. I went from being a happy, confident girl to a girl who was so overwhelmed by sadness that I could barely get up in the morning. And it broke me.
But it also healed me because for the first time in my life, I experienced God’s strength in the most tangible and unforgettable way. He was the One who lifted me up each morning, who held me when I was too weak to walk on my own, and who gave me peace when my mind was too cloudy to think.
It’s painful to admit our weaknesses. Even harder to admit that we can’t overcome them on our own. But if we are to become Spirit-filled people, we have to first recognize that we are incapable of saving ourselves. We can’t even sanctify ourselves. But rather than discouraging us, that should encourage us. Because there is One who can. And He is ready and willing to help us.
We are weak. But He is strong.
2. Recognizing our weakness helps us develop a balanced view of self.
We see a lot about self-love and self-care in our culture today. “Take care of yourself,” social media tells us. “You have to be the most important person in your life,” speakers say. “You are worthy, you are enough,” authors proclaim.
I wonder if, instead of more self-love, we need more Jesus-love. If instead of looking to the culture to boost our wavering self-confidence, we should open the Bible. Because God’s word has held the answer to proper self-image for thousands of years.
Instead of having to pretend like we have it all together, we’re free to place the burden of perfection on Christ. Instead of the pressure of having to make sure everything is just right, we’re free to give up our pride and allow God to be God. Instead of trying to preserve our good Christian façade, we’re free to admit that we aren’t perfect and that we’re still growing.
That’s the kind of self-image that is truly freeing. And far from feeding an unhealthy mindset of self-hatred and shame, the gospel allows us to view ourselves exactly the way we are: as weak and unworthy creations of God, but beloved and redeemed children of God who are fully equipped to spread His mission to the world.
3. Recognizing our weakness enables us to truly serve others well.
If we’re still motivated by the desire to look good in front of others, our love for others is skewed. Our love can’t really be the kind of love Christ showed if it’s still motivated by a sense of selfishness and self-promotion.
Paul said that the outward expression of our faith is worthless if it’s motivated by the self-serving kind of love, instead of proper, Christ-like love (1 Cor. 13:1–3). Our love must come from the utter realization that we are nothing apart from God and that we are merely His vessels through which to shine His light.
Once our love is correctly ordered – Jesus first, then others, then ourselves – we can truly accomplish the mission God has given us to do by serving well.
Is it hard to admit our flaws, our weaknesses? Absolutely. But it is worth it, my friend. And let me tell you, there is nothing more effective in this world than a Christian, a TCK, who is humble about his faults and whose confidence rests in God alone.
Let’s follow the example of Paul. Let’s be more open about our struggles to our fellow believers, let’s continue to press toward the finish line no matter how many times we fall, and let’s cling to God as the true Finisher and Perfecter of our faith.
TCKs for Christ: Writer & Social Media Manager
is an MK from South Africa and has called Africa her home for the past 15 years. As a writer, she seeks to use her gifts to encourage other TCKs that they are not alone. Besides writing, she enjoys reading voraciously, playing piano and violin, and helping with her family’s ministry. You can connect with her at Whimsical Wanderings or on Instagram, @KristianneHassman_Author.