I’ve recently – in the past week – come to the conclusion that missions are an interesting phenomena. They illuminate how a person or group views themselves, while simultaneously suggesting how said person or group should be judged.
For instance, by creating a mission statement, I’m not only saying “here are my values; this is what’s important to me, this is how I hope to carry myself forth in the world,” but also “this is the light in which you should assess my actions.”
The same applies to Mission Trips – mission statements in action, I suppose.
Last week, I joined my second mission trip ever. (I prefer to say “joined” versus “went on”; it implies more of a direct action and therefore conscientious decision… Right? Yeah.)
It was interesting, to say the least. A group of 33 gringos traveled together to Mexico, built two homes for two extravagantly impoverished families, and then crossed back to sunny San Diego to reward ourselves with a few days of chill vibes, because we could.
In reality, the trip was much more involved than that. But now that I’ve had a few days to absorb and process some of what escaped me in the midst of all the excitement and toil, one thought stands out clearly and somewhat confoundingly: the bittersweet triumph of discernment, in oneself and in others.
I realized it’s bittersweet because discovering, acknowledging and respecting certain observations of character – within both yourself and those who surround you – will inevitably lead to some degree of internal change. It is not always black or white; it’s not always good or bad. Sometimes, it just is. And regardless, I’d rather remain dynamic versus static. Still, in my own experience, change generally requires leaving one to pursue another, however intangible or elusive the application may seem.
But acquiring discernment to recognize when change is necessary is a quality not many possess. That’s when it becomes triumphant – when you, or someone near you is finally able to break through your lamentable hesitancy toward life by discerning the issue and shoving it sometimes not-so-gently in your face. (I also like to call that the start of a true friendship, but maybe that’s just me.)
Mission trips are great for that. Missions are great for that. Because once you put your name and your face behind something as flamboyantly declarative as a mission, you grant instant permission to the masses to call out any and all of your hypocrisy.
When that happens (and it will), it’s up to you to assess the impact of your self-declared mission on your actual life… and that’s where things REALLY get real.