Gleanings,  On Being a Christian

Becoming Missionaries: Two Unexpected Temptations of Missionary Life

Two half-truths are going through my mind right away as we are becoming missionaries…

# 1  S P E N D  L E S S

# 2  D O  M O R E


#1  S P E N D  L E S S

The first time I walked through Target with only donations from our supporters sitting in our bank account, it was a whole new experience. I went to the clearance rack to get an alarm clock for my daughter. There was a pretty gold-colored alarm clock one on sale for $6.98.

Here is what went through my head: “If someone sees me with this clock in my shopping cart, they will think, ‘This is where her support money is going to??’ Because they won’t know that my daughter needs it and that it’s on sale for $6.98. They will think I’m just on a shopping spree at Target with our support money.”

$6.98 … Still too expensive.

I didn’t really need it. I could walk in her room and wake her up myself. So I took it out of my cart.

It was a big deal to me to purchase anything I didn’t really need with the Lord’s money.


“Did you not tell them that they were the Lord’s chips?” –Senor Ramon, Nacho Libre


Isn’t all of our paycheck the Lord’s money? Wasn’t Andy’s youth pastor paycheck just as much the Lord’s money before we became missionaries?

Somehow I felt entitled to spend our money before. But now I feel this whole new responsibility for every penny spent.

Why is this income different? Because it is gifted from my friends and family. Their hard-earned money was gifted to our mission at Gleanings for the Hungry, so we can help feed the hungry! Not so I can go on my usual Target run!

Only the essentials are important enough to go in the shopping cart … right? This is what goes through the head of a new missionary.

I desperately want to use our money wisely. I see this as a very positive change in my mindset, once I get a good balance in my heart and mind about what is necessary to buy.

In addition to this positive change, I also notice a great guilt whenever I spend any money at all.

For example, our daughter’s birthday. Whoo hoo!

But … should I spend money on a party? Should I buy her just a few small gifts? What do missionaries do for their kids’ birthdays?

You didn’t earn that, Chelsea. You don’t need that. Your daughter doesn’t need that.

And I have to discern where this guilt is coming from. Does God want to show me that I need more discernment with money? Or is the life of a missionary really just a strange thing that I have to get used to? Or do I really need to do everything I can to earn my sense of “I served the Lord and I earned this support money?”

Will I be living in a constant state of guilt for everything I buy? Should I really not be buying anything other than missionary essentials?


“These are my recreation clothes.”

“They look expensive.”

“Thank you.” —Nacho Libre


Should I be making clothes for my family in the sewing room instead of buying clothes? Should we only wear donated hats and shoes?

The thing is — there is nothing wrong with using all donated or homemade items. People all over the world do that.

What do you think the Lord is trying to teach me?


“Beneath the clothes, we find a man … and beneath the man, we find his … nucleus.” —Nacho Libre


# 2  D O  M O R E

Another thing I keep hearing in my own head is, “You aren’t doing enough,” and, “Other people think you aren’t doing enough.”

I am here at Gleanings and I am doing the same thing that I was doing at home in Burbank: homeschooling and raising my kids, and serving in small ways in the ministry here. Maybe that’s not enough?

I should be pulling my weight contributing more to the community. I should add more to my schedule. I should should should.

Listening to all the shoulds is emotionally exhausting. And I think emotional exhaustion is a sign that these “shoulds” are not from the Lord.


C O N C L U S I O N S . . .

I wonder if other missionaries hear a lot of shoulds?

I wonder if other missionaries feel like they aren’t doing enough? Because, really, who is the judge of that?

I wonder if other missionaries tend to abstain from all kinds of luxuries in an attempt to be righteous enough to deserve the support money they have raised?

Really, if I make any decision at all based on support or money, am I not worshipping money?

If I add more to my schedule to try to impress or please someone else other than the Lord, am I not trying to please man instead of pleasing God?


“Those eggs were a lie, Esqueleto! A LIE! They give me no eagle powers! They give me no nutrients!” —Nacho Libre


What will please the Lord? That’s all that matters.

How I spend my money will not stop the money from coming in. The Lord determines what money comes in for our family. We will always have what we need. That is the Lord’s promise. And that has been my prayer since the beginning of this adventure at Gleanings for the Hungry: Give us this day our daily bread.

How much I accomplish as a mom and a missionary cannot be measured by anyone but the Lord, just as the hairs on my head cannot be counted by anyone but him.

Thank you for letting me share this with you. What are your thoughts? Please share your insights!

Find out more about our family’s choice to move to Gleanings for the Hungry here: 



Chelsea Rotunno is the author of Goodnight to My Thoughts of You, a novel about life as a Christian teen searching for true love.

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *