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Tony Myles is a youth ministry veteran, author, speaker, volunteer youth worker and lead pastor of Connection Church in Medina, Ohio... and he really likes smoothies.

Go ahead and say this out loud with me:

“I am a missionary.”

You can stand up if it will help.

gladiator-russell-crowe-maximus-warrior-shout-gladiator-1304156559Maybe pretend like you’re Russell Crowe in “Gladiator.”

(But not Russell Crowe in “Noah,” because we all know “Gladiator” is still more Christian than “Noah” these days).

Did I just get distracted?

Oh, yeah. It’s easy to get distracted from focusing on being a missionary, isn’t it?

So say it with me. Stand up if need be. Raise your arm in a dramatic gesture if it helps.

“I am a missionary.”

(I’m going to pause and wait for you to really do it.)

(Quit reading.)

(Seriously. Just do it.)

(Don’t be a baby.)

I’ve been regularly saying this out loud more often since returning from a mission trip. As I shared recently, this is less about feeling hyped up on my experience and more convicted that I am invited and called to live this way.

missionaryshirt_sm(Although, I will confess that I did make up a t-shirt to wear to help break the ice.)

Perhaps that’s why the day after I was home from a trip to Honduras with Lifetree Adventures I found myself in my kitchen sharing Jesus with a handyman who was working on a project for us. My wife had mentioned to him the week before how he could come over once I was home. It’s why he started the conversation I needed to have with him, not knowing where I’d take it.

First, I listened to his story. For a half hour or so, he shared about how he’d left corporate America to start a business with his other friends who were also in the late forties and early fifties. He explained how the pace of life in this job was more suited to his place in life.

“So I heard you were out of the country?” he eventually asked.

“Yeah,” I said. In the past, I might have stopped there, only adding, “and it was awesome.”

After all, we’re not supposed to “offend” people, right? We’re supposed to just toss out conversational bait or do good deeds and hope they smell Jesus on our breath.

No, really… isn’t that how we tend to live and rationalize as Christians?

Jesus BreathalyzerAs if evangelism and outreach are the equivalent of a Jesus breathalyzer.

In the past, I would have failed this test over and over again.

Only in this conversation I was compelled to continue.

“Yeah,” I began. “It was an amazing experience for my son and I. The real opportunity was the chance it gave me to see how God is working there. Sometimes we forget how involved He is not just in every area of our lives, but every area of the world. Do you know what I mean?”

The conversation continued. He politely replied my question. I replied to his reply. Eventually the conversation began to shift away from that theme.

Again, this is where I would have allowed it to drift. “I’ll just catch Him on Jesus next time,” I would have reasoned. Instead, I was internally prodded to externally prod a bit further.

“So,” I began again, “do you and your family have a church home?”

This is where the real conversation took off. He shared how his wife is Catholic and so he’s felt obligated to go with her to the Catholic church, although he would rather take part in a Protestant one. We hung out on that topic for a half hour. Eventually, he had to head home.

Later that night, my wife asked, “So…were you talking with the handyman about Jesus?”

“Yeah,” I replied. “Absolutely.”

“That seems a bit abnormal for you,” she added. She wasn’t criticizing me, but was surprised how I seemed to be transcending my usual “I-hope-they-just-smell-Jesus-on-my-breath” approach.

“Actually, what’s abnormal is the way I’ve been living. Something tells me this is closer to the Normal that God’s been wanting me to live in all along. Katie, I’m a missionary.You are, too.”

That night I couldn’t sleep, mainly because an acronym was forming in my mind. I’m not normally an “acronym” guy, so I scratched it out and then looked at it the next morning. Here it is–a way that I’m trying to live out what it means to be a missionary wherever I’m at:

  • Make a move toward someone

  • Initiate a conversation

  • Seek the Holy Spirit

  • Show you’re listening

  • Invest more deeply than planned

  • Own your faith out loud

  • Name the opportunity

  • Ask a defining question

  • Receive their response

  • YAWP! (Go for it – whatever is required)

Maybe if we lived this way we could engage in any conversation–including (dare I say it) the more controversial ones, be it the “Noah” movie, evolution, Westboro Baptist Church, Duck Dynasty, politics and more…without becoming a stereotype ourselves in the process.

If you remember, in fact, that’s how Jesus really is smelled on our breath – by living a “drunk on the spirit” life that follows His Holy Spirit “wherever” and “however.” This is what happened within the crowds of people when the early church ministered on the Day of Pentecost:

“Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, ‘What does this mean?’ Some, however, made fun of them and said, ‘They have had too much wine.’” (Acts 2:12-13)

Help me out on this.

Between what I’ve observed in myself and what I’m offering here as direction, what am I spot on with? What am I being blind to? How can we help students live this way without fear?

Let’s really own this together.

And once more… say it with me… “I am a missionary.”

You know… like Noah was.

(Wait… did I just get distracted again?)

Thank you for loving students!

Tony / @tonymyles

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