Deputation is the time where a missionary (in the Independent Baptist Churches) travels to churches seeking to raise support in order to get to the field he/she believes the Lord has called them to. When my wife and I were on deputation, I remember many people that had a negative attitude towards deputation, but for us it was a wonderful experience and we learned a lot. Sure there are challenges, like everything in life, but the overall time of deputation is actually a wonderful experience to be taken advantage of… so allow me to share a few short ideas of how to take advantage of the great opportunities while on deputation.
1. Raise Prayer Support
No one would deny that you need financial support to get to the field, but we sometimes take light the need of getting prayer support. In our ten years in South America, our family confronted many hard times that God helped us through, many real-life spiritual warfare situations – and we saw how God faithfully saved us out of all the situations… I believe strongly that it was because God’s people were lifting us up in prayer. Friend, in the heat of the battle, the financial support will not get you thru… it’s the prayer support you need in those times!
2. See God work First-Hand
We’ve all heard great messages and testimonies of how God did miraculous and marvelous things in other people’s lives, but many times we only hear them rather than experiencing them ourselves.
David saw God allow him to kill a lion and a bear and when the time came to go before Goliath, he was confident that God would help him just as He did in the past. You don’t have to wait to get to the field to see God’s hand at work, you can see it happening now! Win somebody to the Lord, see God provide for your needs, see prayers answered, etc. The person who sees God at work in his deputation time will be confident that God is going to continue working when he/she arrives to the field.
3. Promote Missions
In your messages, in your talking with people, at the churches you visit, to the young people you speak to, in the letters, emails and blogs you write, etc. God is giving you a once in a life time opportunity to meet and be with different churches and people – don’t try to push your thoughts, standards, ideas or preferences, God is giving you a opportunity to put missions in front of others. I remember on deputation someone telling me, “if I could go into churches, I would straiten them out about these issues”. Dear friend, God is not sending you to push your agenda rather His agenda.
I once heard someone say, when you’re not shooting, you need to reload. Deputation is a time to prepare for the work that God has for you on your mission field… so use your time wisely and prepare now. Read books, study, listen to other’s advice, listen to audiobooks as you drive down the road, etc. Don’t let the time on deputation just go by rather use your time so that when you get to the field God called you to, you will be full of zeal and knowledge and be ready to put it into practice.
As you travel, ask pastors and missionaries questions about ministry, what they have done, what is working, what to avoid, etc. Make a study from all the advice you get and it could help you avoid or make sure you do certain things. If you believe God has called you, begin to prepare right now for your future ministry.
5. Grow in your Relationships
This could be a time to grow spiritually in your own life, grow closer to your spouse and to communicate better with your pastor. Use that time in the car to listen to audio books, use the time in the hotels or prophets chambers to study and read. Learn to be a better spouse, better preacher and friend, know God and His Word better, etc.
6. Journal it
As you travel, write down the struggles, the blessings, how God answers prayers, the churches you visit and people you meet, write down the advice and lessons learned – later in those moments you need encouragement, you can look back at this journal and remember how good God has been to you.
7. Keep a Good Attitude
Yes, there will be disappointments and bumps in the road, but the problems you confront do not determine your attitude, they just reflect your attitude. We must pray that God would help us to keep a good attitude and work at it constantly. Problems can’t make you lose faith, become bitter or have a bad attitude – they can sure try, but you at the end will decide if you are going to have little faith, be bitter or have a negative attitude. Decide you will keep a good attitude no matter what comes your way!
Here to Serve,
General Director of Vision Baptist Missions