As a missionary it is important to be vision oriented; to be focused on the long term health of your ministry. You shouldn’t be scared to invest resources if it means that, in the long term, the return will allow you or your family to be more effective at what God has called you to do. After all, the longer a missionary stays on the field, the more effective they become at being missionaries.
For example, most missionaries hate raising support. I’m familiar with that feeling. So they convince themselves that they can eat dirt and grubs and live in a tent just fine, that way they don’t have to raise a large support quota. They raise their goal quickly but just as quickly find that eating dirt and grubs and living in a tent causes a lot of stress and soon they return home burnt out and never to go on the field again. Were they effective? Not likely.
Now of course there’s a balance to that idea. I could say that driving around in a Ferrari helps me prevent stress and so I need three of them parked in my garage. I deal with a lot of stress, after all. You may decide to invest in another missionary because this one has enough. You’d probably be right.
So there’s a balance between eating dirt and driving Ferraris, right? That’s where wisdom comes in, I guess. Someone once told me that “Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting tomatoes in a fruit salad.” Where that balance is between taking care of yourself and your family and not wasting resources is for you, God, and your supporters to figure out. I think a Biblical example is Paul. When necessary, he ate dirt and rotted in prison. Yet, he also states he knew what it was like to “have plenty.” There are seasons in life. Throughout every season we are responsible to God for what we do with whatever resources he gives us. Whenever possible we should strive to keep our families healthy emotionally and physically.
Those are some grandiose ideas. But sometimes the rubber hits the road and you find yourself wrestling with the steering wheel of reality. I want to be vision driven but sometimes I find myself budget limited.
Take Janice’s washer for instance. Our previous washer was given to us by one of our landlords after he predicted it would die “within several months.” Three moves, two states, and four years later we were still using it. Like anything that gets past its prime, it developed embarrassing leakage. There was a perpetual pool of water in the garage under the washer. The kids loved it! Janice did not. I tried fixing it. I tightened this and that. I couldn’t figure it out and frankly, I didn’t really put much effort into it. On top of that, our dryer stopped performing it’s cool down cycle which left hot clothing sitting in a crumbled heap as they cooled down. This gave every load permanent wrinkles that Janice would have to iron out.
Washing laundry is something Janice does a lot, at least that’s what I gather from the loud sighs and groans every time she picks up a laundry basket. My sixth sense began tingling. “Mmmm. I think laundry may be stressing out my wife,” I thought to myself. A budget minded person would tell my wife to suck it up – new appliances are expensive! But I want to be a vision-oriented person, a captain at the helm of his ship sailing up sparkling visionary rivers of vision. A vision-oriented person would either do the laundry for his wife or buy his wife better appliances. The decision was clear – It was time to replace the scrap metal posing as appliances in our garage!
My visionary boat soon crashed into the rocks of our budget. Still, where there’s a will, there’s a way. I shopped Facebook marketplace and soon found a listing that said, “Samsung washer. BROKEN. $100.” I smiled. Yes. I can fix things. By the sound of it, he had replaced almost all of the components and actually had fixed it before it broke again two weeks later. He was tired of working on it and wanted to gift it to the next lucky person. That person was me! I whipped the back two seats out of the van and sped over to the neighboring town and, before I could let reason hamper my vision, I had the washer sitting in the garage.
I immediately installed a new water pressure sensor. It was the doohickey that senses when the drum is full of water. I wasted no time hooking up the water lines and giving the washer a test run. It filled a quarter of the way up with water and beeped. “E41” it said on the screen. “Hmm..” After a quick Google search I found that the error code was telling me that it wasn’t filling with water. But it was. I could see the water in there since it was a front loading washer with a window. Well, I reasoned with myself, maybe if I try again it’ll add more water and the sensor will pick it up. The brain will reason unreasonably when it wants something to work. I hit the “Go” button again and sat down across the garage to work on my motorcycle. I watched the water level rise to just an inch from the top of the door. As it crept past the top of the door I thought, “I wonder what happens if it fills up and I have to empty it out? What do I do with all that water?” Just then the washer dinged again and unlocked the door. After all, as far as the washer could tell, there was no water in it. But there was. It was full of water! The pressure from all the water in the drum popped the door wide open. A tidal wave of water spilled out and swept across the garage, engulfing my feet as I pranced around. I believe Patrick McManus refers to this reaction as a “Momentary Stationary Panic.” I’ve experienced Momentary Stationary Panics before but this one was a doozy. Apparently I was also trying to force the water back into the washer by yelling at it loudly because the neighbor came running over to see what was wrong. He arrived on the scene to find all the buoyant things from our garage riding a tsunami out of the garage door.
“Woah.” He said.
I nodded. Apparently he never tried repairing anything so I explained the process to him. “I got a new washer. Just trying to work the kinks out of it. Ya’ know how that goes.”
He nodded. A Muck boot floated down the driveway. “Woah.” He said.
“Yup. Well, the garage floor should be clean now.” I grabbed a broom and began shoving water out of the door.
A week later I actually got it working. It’s a phenomenal washer! Inspired by my success I began shopping for broken dryers.
Our garage now has seven appliances stuffed into it.
“I wish you’d stop being so vision-oriented,” Janice told me the other day. “I need room to do laundry.”