In one sense, every Christian is a missionary (Matthew 28:19–20). Every believer is to share Christ with others. However, some receive a specific calling to serve in another context far from their present location. The Bible does not give a specific verse teaching us how to discover whether we are called as missionaries, but it does provide examples of those called to missionary efforts from which we can find principles for our lives today.
First, believers should already be mature in their own faith. The missionaries of the New Testament were all people already mature in their faith. It is difficult to influence others if we are not secure in Christ. Further, it is difficult to determine God’s call if we are not walking closely with Him.
Second, believers must be willing to consider the cost. Jesus called His disciples to leave everything to follow Him, but He also exhorted them to count the cost of doing so. He said that following Him might mean conflict with family and that ridicule would occur if they failed for lack of planning (Luke 14:26–30).
Third, believers should consider what gifts and abilities they have to help them serve. God calls missionaries in the area of evangelism, but He also calls teachers, doctors, engineers, technology experts, and those in many other fields of service. God will likely call missionaries to a place where they can use their strengths and talents to help those who need them.
Fourth, those considering a call should pray diligently regarding that calling. In Acts 13:1-5, the local church leaders gathered to pray and fast as part of God’s leading Paul and Barnabas into missionary service. Determining a missionary calling should involve a great deal of prayer.
Fifth, those considering missionary work should seek counsel with other Christian leaders. Proverbs 15:22 teaches, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” The affirmation of other wise Christians of one’s desire for missionary service may be a strong indication of God’s will.
Sixth, potential missionaries should consider what opportunities God has placed before them for service. God sometimes makes His will clear through a particular opportunity or circumstance. It is important to include prayer and counsel in such situations.
When determining whether or not one is called to missionary work, a person should consider carefully, be courageous, seek counsel, pray, and trust God. If God has called someone to the mission field, He will equip him or her to impact the lives of others.