Should You Follow God’s Calling to Be a Missionary Overseas Against the Will of Your Parents? John Piper Answers

John Piper

Ask Pastor John

Audio Transcript

Here’s today’s question: “Pastor John, my name is David. I’m a high school senior and I recently felt the call of God to uproot my life for the spread of the gospel among the nations. I have access to several opportunities to go to college overseas through my denomination’s mission board. My pastor has affirmed my calling, and my church is willing and able to send me to study as a student-missionary. It is my plan to go into missions full time after I get my degree.

“My parents, on the other hand, say that this would be a waste of my life, and that I would be a fool to leave America, which is, they say, the greatest nation in the world. I graduate in June. What steps do I need to take in the coming months to convince my parents that going is a good thing? Would it be dishonoring to them if I went without their affirmation? I love America. I love my parents. But as you pointed out in one of your articles, God is calling people to leave America for the sake of the nations. I think that’s me. What are your thoughts?”

Well, I have six thoughts at least.

1. Even though there comes a time when the will of Christ perceived in your own soul by the Holy Spirit through the word of God should take precedence over the will of your parents, if they conflict, nevertheless, God’s command for children to obey their parents is very serious (Ephesians 6:1). It puts a much greater burden on the parents than it does on the child. They will be accountable for what they command or forbid. A person who is just on the brink of adulthood should be very slow — there’s no magical age in the Bible for adulthood; we say 18 or 21. That’s why I’m saying if you’re just on the brink of adulthood, you should be very slow to go against your parents’ wishes in the name of Christ. That’s my first thought: be very slow.

2. Your aim is not only to follow your mission, but to win your parents. By “win” I mean, show them by your attitude and your joy and your humility and your behavior that Jesus is more precious and more satisfying and more important than America. And more precious, more satisfying, more important than any mission he might call you to. Now, I hope you heard that correctly. On the one hand, you want to correct their apparent worldliness in putting American greatness ahead of your need or the need of nations for the gospel. You want them to see that, in your own life, Christ is sufficient to satisfy your soul, even if your mission is postponed. Glorifying Christ in your situation is not a simple matter of going or not going. It is a profoundly spiritual matter of how your heart responds to going or not going. You want to win your parents. You want to change them, not just decide whether they’re right or wrong. That’s thought number two.

3. You are young and have much time in front of you, as far as you know. Don’t calculate whether your life is wasted simply on the basis of the next five or ten years. Think on a bigger scale than that. God decides whether you will live another minute or live another sixty years. You should plan for the latter, not the former.

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SOURCE: Desiring God