It’s the third date. You really, really like him, and he seems to like you. As you sit down in the coffee shop, he leans forward, his tone serious. “I have to tell you something.”
“It’s about my future…what I think God is calling me to do.”
In a few sentences he explains he is called to overseas missions, and he wants you to know ahead of time. If the relationship is to continue, he says, it’s important you be on the same page.
He’s right. If you’re going to date someone who’s called to full-time missions, you DO need to be on the same page for the relationship to last. But what if you’d never thought about missions until now? How do you know whether or not to continue the relationship?
God Must Come First
In both your life and his (or hers, if you’re a guy reading this), your first priority must be Christ. That means whatever Christ is calling you to do must be the thing you do. You are not commissioned to take someone else’s call.
Sometimes God brings people into our lives to test our obedience. Will we keep listening for Him, following His leading and walking in obedience? Or will we change our plans based on someone else’s walk with God?
And sometimes God brings a person into our life to show us a calling we never considered before. Maybe this guy will help spark in you a passion for evangelism overseas. It has happened before.
But what matters most is YOUR relationship with Christ and your willingness to follow Him. If you won’t lay down a relationship to obey the call God has on your life, how will you lay down everything else to follow His call into full-time missions? Sacrifice is not always about moving to Africa. More often than not, it happens in our real, raw, at-home lives.
Distractions and Calling
The second thing to consider is whether your relationship with him would be a distraction from his calling. If you’re not on board with his passion for ministry or missions, that’s not going to change just because you date longer—or even get married. If anything, it will become a point of contention between you. Can you fully support and encourage this call, or will you be a distraction from it?
That’s a hard question to ask when you’re overcome with the emotions of dating. It’s even harder to ask when you start thinking, What if he’s the best guy I ever date?! But God is sovereign. He can bring someone else into your life at any point. And He can also equip you to make this relationship work IF you are walking in obedience to Him.
You Can’t Do This for Him
Say you decide you will stay in the relationship, pray for wisdom and direction, and ask God to give you the same calling if it’s His will for you to stay together long term. As you do this, remember a very important point: You cannot follow this call to keep a guy. If you do, the years of ministry or missions will wear you down quickly. You will no longer appreciate his passion, but will instead be burdened and irritated by it. The emotional high of your dating days will wear off, and you will question why you ever signed on to this endeavor.
You must embrace a calling to full-time missions or ministry by God’s leading. To do this only to keep a guy you love is cheating him and cheating you. It’s cheating him because he deserves someone who is just as on board with the call as he is. And it’s cheating you because in taking up someone else’s mission, you aren’t fulfilling your own.
People CAN change and God can call you to something you didn’t consider before. But be sure that you’re seeking his wisdom and not making an emotional decision. There are many ways to minister the gospel; full-time missions is only one. But it’s a very serious thing to embrace, and before you embrace it, be sure you’re doing so out of love for Christ—not just love for your boyfriend.