Barrier to Missions (Part 3) – Career Suicide

The following blog posts were adapted from a seminar I (Glennis Shih) gave at the Epic East Coast Conference in 2012. Please pass it along to others who may be struggling about investing a year on full-time mission. This is part 3 of a 3 part series.

You want to take a year to go on missions BUT…:

A discussion on the barriers of going on missions

In part 1 of this series, my friend Devin brought up the idea of “Career Suicide.” This was also a common fear that was brought up by Asian Americans I talked to.  Devin goes on to say, “STINT seems to be a pretty bad return on investment for 20 years of education.”  Peter, who STINTed in 2005 said his biggest struggle was wondering whether he was putting off his future: that is, finishing graduate school studies, getting a job, continuing his job, etc. He was working on his PhD in Immunology when he felt God’s call. As he struggled with this, he began to see that God’s plan for him was clearly better than any PhD or degree that he could receive. He says: “I think during the process, God humbled me in realizing that it doesn’t matter how many letters follow my name. As I’ve been over here (this is his 11th year overseas!) I’ve been seeing that God’s process of leading us is a way of refining us and seeing if we are obedient to His will and calling.”

Pauline also shared, “I think I was under paralysis thinking that my first job after college was a major decision that would impact the rest of my life, and I didn’t want to make a wrong career move. In retrospect, especially in this day and age, jobs change all the time, so though a ‘first job’ is important, it’s just a stepping stone….” And Chris shares from a completely practical standpoint that “taking a year off can help one focus and think through one’s future goals; also, international experience can be helpful and set one apart from other applicants for jobs and grad school.” And that is coming from someone who has practiced law for over a decade now and has two graduate degrees. He says, “I would still rate my STINT year as even more challenging and worthwhile than my academic experiences.” 

Practical or not, taking a year to go overseas on missions can be a great risk to your career plans, your family relationships, even your friendships/romantic connections. In fact, I know of a couple STINTERS who left behind girlfriends and boyfriends, and trusted God to help them stay connected.

So, with all these challenges, why serve in missions? After sharing about all the challenges he had with his parents and fears about “career suicide” Devin wrote: “So why would anyone still go on STINT? Why did I decide to still go on STINT? I guess I could try to explain away those challenges. I could tell you how you actually learn a lot of useful skills that can be applied to other jobs in the future. Or that it’s not really all that hard and uncomfortable because you get to have fun hanging out with people and teaching them and seeing them grow. That’s all true, but choosing to go on STINT really isn’t a cost-benefit analysis. 

Simply put, I went because Jesus is worth it. Because when you work for the king, there is no such thing as waste. “Why this waste?” is the question the disciples asked the woman who anointed Jesus with perfume/ointment that was worth a year’s wages. But Jesus’ answer was that “she has done a beautiful thing.” I went on STINT not because it always made logical sense to everyone else. I went because I was so enamored with God’s name being made known where it is not. I was captured by His glory and wanted His glory to shine in a place where the people didn’t know about Him. Missions exists because worship does not, and STINT is about the simple work of trying to help those living in darkness come to know the Light and worship Him.”

In this three part series, I shared the stories of a handful of Asian Americans who like you faced many barriers and challenges to seriously consider missions in their life. They are now lawyers, doctors, businessmen, husbands, wives, administrators, teachers, full-time moms, and some are full-time missionaries. These form the cloud of witnesses that demonstrate that it IS possible to overcome the challenges and barriers Asian Americans commonly face, and to live out the life of FAITH God calls us to.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:1)