Missionary Single Issues: Identity

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  • Approximate Time Commitment: 20 minutes

These booklets cover those issues which are unique to or heightened by those individuals who live in a culture other than their passport culture. The author wrote it, not as one who lived as a single missionary, but as someone who has talked about singles issues with single missionaries.

Modern Western Culture presents serious challenges related to maturity, marriage, and family. Changes in the culture during the last couple of centuries have produced disturbing trends which relate to the singles (unmarried individuals) growing up in it.

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Resource Description

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A conversation between two single teachers in an international school could go something like this.

Mary: “John, when I’m here at school, I know who I am and where I fit.  I am on the faculty with people like you and I am a teacher to the children in my classroom.  However, the only other missionaries here with our agency are a married couple.  When I am with them, I feel like a third wheel.  I’ve been very careful not to do anything flirtatious, but I am sure Jan sees me as doing so.”

John: “I know exactly what you mean, Mary.  I’m fine here at school, but I feel different in my agency.  Three other families are here with my agency, but the norm is ‘married with children.’  Whenever we get together, I feel like the odd man out because I don’t have much interest in discussing what to do with the kids or how to make time for my spouse.”

These single missionaries are talking about issues related to their roles and their identities.

Identity

Although there are a few hermits who withdraw from other people and live alone, most of us get much of our identity from our relationships with other people.  Of course, we have our identity in our relationship with God as being his children, but we still need other people made in his image.  We learn what our roles are as we interact with these other people, and much of who we are comes from living those roles.

Paul was a single missionary who knew his identity well.  When in Jerusalem Paul was arrested as a mob became violent.  Here is the way Paul gave his identity as he introduced himself to the crowd (Acts 22:3).

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