Life on Mission
About the Guest
How can you know God's will when you are facing a radical life change? Voddie Baucham says re-evaluate your objectives in life, and God will show you from there. He outlines how to follow God's leading
Voddie BauchamVoddie Baucham wears many hats. He is a husband, father, former pastor, author, professor, conference speaker, and church planter. He currently serves as Dean of Theology at African Christian University in Lusaka, Zambia. Dr. Baucham holds degrees from Houston Baptist University (BA in Christianity/BA in Sociology), Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (M.Div.), Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (D.Min.), an honorary degree from Southern California Seminary (D.D.), and additional...more
How can you know God’s will when you are facing a radical life change? Voddie Baucham says re-evaluate your objectives in life, and God will show you from there. He outlines how to follow God’s leading.
Life on Mission
Michelle: I have a friend who has dreamed about being a missionary in Africa since she was a little kid. But then came marriage and then came kids before she could get there. According to Voddie Baucham, that’s not necessarily accurate.
Voddie: You don’t necessarily have to be a part of an official function of some kind to understand that, when you got married, you were on mission. When God gives us children, we now know for a fact that we’re on mission. We know what our mission is; we know where our mission is: we are to take these people who come into our home—they’re unconverted little sinners—[Laughter]—they are; they need Jesus bad!—[Laughter]—and so we’re on mission. When you got married, you were on mission.
Michelle: Voddie Baucham’s going to talk today about living life on mission on this edition of FamilyLife This Week.
Welcome to FamilyLife This Week. I’m Michelle Hill. Have you ever thought about your life’s mission? Maybe you crafted a mission statement for your life: it included your purpose/the reason that you live and breathe. A mom’s mission statement might include, you know, just making sure that the kids actually live to see their 18th birthday. Or maybe, because of COVID, you lost your job, and you’re in the middle of finding a new one; or maybe, because of all of this, you’re working from home right now, and this just really has you thinking, “Well, what is my mission in life?”
You know, I have these similar questions; and so I actually turned to someone I know. He’s thought a lot about this: mission in life. His name is Voddie Baucham; he’s a popular author, speaker, and seminary president, so he probably does know what he’s talking about when he talks about life on mission. A few years ago, he spoke at a FamilyLife® event; and he explored this issue of life on mission.
Voddie: I have an assignment this morning. My assignment is to talk about the mission of marriage. My assignment is also to share with you Bridget’s and my journey/our most recent journey. That’s a bit of a challenge to me, since I learned a long time ago that my greatest gift to you, as I stand up here anytime, is to share a story that’s not my own; but this morning I have to tell you our story. Thanks, Bob Lepine. [Laughter]
What we’re going to do is focus on this passage of Scripture; and then I’m going to give you sort of an extended application from our story, which fits into this. Open your Bibles to 1 Corinthians 7. In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul is addressing the issue of marriage, and divorce, and singleness.
In this section, in particular, he’s talking about singleness. He’s kind of extolling the virtues of singleness for those individuals who have that calling and that supernatural gift. It is a calling from God and a supernatural gift to be single. I did not have that calling. I met Bridget January 21, 1989; and we got married June 30, 1989. We’ve been married ever since, so I know very little about this gift of singleness.
But the other side of it is addressed here in this text, beginning in verse 32, where Paul says, “I want you to be free from anxieties.” Notice some of the words that he uses here. It almost sounds like he’s being very negative about marriage. You have to remind yourself, when you read this passage, that Paul’s the one—he’s the same guy who penned Ephesians 5:22 and following. You know, the most writing—and the most deep and rich theological writing—in the New Testament about marriage is what we have from Paul himself. You have to remind yourself of that as you read this passage
[1 Corinthians 7:32-35].
I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things,
Now, we have “anxiety”; we have “worldly”; that word is not used in the sense that we normally use it/you know, “worldly” in the sense of evil things—that’s not what he’s talking about here—earthly.
“how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things,”—not that she’s not concerned about being holy in body and spirit—“how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.
So there’s this idea of devotion being divided when we are married. That’s an important concept to have—that our devotions are divided—and not in the sense that we become ungodly. The idea there is that we don’t have—it’s not like when we were single—when we were single, and we just sensed the need to move in this or that direction, you just moved in this or that direction. When we’re married, we can no longer move like that; we can no longer operate like that. We have other things to think of.
It’s like moving the Army versus moving Special Forces. Special Forces can go—get in, get out—do whatever they have to do. Man, to move an army? It takes you months! There’s a lot of stuff you have to get, you know; and when you go, you stay awhile! So when you’re married, it’s like that. It’s different; you don’t have that same flexibility.
But it’s not that you’re no longer involved in kingdom work. We know this because, for example, the Dominion Mandate. In Genesis, Chapter 1, beginning in verse 28, we read: “And God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the heavens, and over the living things that move on the earth.’”
So there’s an idea here, in the Dominion Mandate, that this married couple that has been called together by God has a kingdom purpose. They are on mission from the beginning. Everything that they’re doing, as this couple, is designed and geared toward that mission. Even the idea of being a married couple is an idea that proclaims something true about God, who has redeemed a people for Himself; so we’re not divorced from the kingdom.
The idea of the Parental Mandate—that we’re to bring up our children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord—so that, when God gives us children, we now know for a fact that we’re on mission. We know what our mission is; we know where our mission is: we’re to take these people, who come into our home—they are unconverted little sinners—[Laughter]—amen.
Voddie: —if you have a problem with me saying that, you don’t have kids yet! [Laughter] Okay? They’re unconverted little sinners—they are—they need Jesus bad! [Laughter] It didn’t take you long to figure that out, okay?
So we’re on mission, and we need to be reminded of that. You don’t necessarily have to be a part of an official church function of some kind to understand that, when you got married, you were on mission.
Marriage is also the first qualification for those who serve in ministry—1 Timothy, Chapter 3, verses 1 and 2—“The saying is trustworthy; if anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife…”
That term, “above reproach,” is the umbrella term for all of the qualifications that come. After that, you get specific qualifications. The first of the specific qualifications is: “…husband of one wife…” It has to do with your marriage. Titus 1:5 and 6: “This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remains in order and appoint elders in every town as I directed you. If anyone is above reproach”—and here we come—“husband of one wife…” It starts right there; it starts with your marriage. Your marriage is your first ministry. If I am not succeeding as Bridget’s husband, I don’t deserve to be anybody else’s pastor; okay? Amen!
Also, we’re called to be examples to the flock. Those in ministry are called to be examples to the flock: “So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder”—we see this in 1 Peter 5:1-4—“and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.”
“…examples to the flock”—this means that elders must be exemplary Christians/exemplary Christians. Perfect Christians?—no. Perfect Christians are not exemplary. We’re to be exemplary husbands and fathers. “Oh really, so you have to have a perfect marriage?”—no, exemplary. We saw a picture last night of this very concept. We didn’t have some people come up before us and say, “Yes, we’re in pastoral ministry because we’re perfect, and we’ve always been perfect.” No! But part of being exemplary is how you overcome the sin and the obstacles that are put before you; amen? That’s part of your example.
Exemplary parents: “Oh, your kids have to be perfect?”—no! I already told you—they’re little sinners! [Laughter] Amen! None of us have perfect children—none of us do—none of us, none of us, none of us. There’s only been one couple who ever had a perfect child; you’re not marrying Joseph. [Laughter]
However, we’re to be exemplary parents. Sometimes, you see people being exemplary parents when their children are being a particular challenge! So, exemplary; this means that we’re not the only ones—my wife and I—balancing marriage and mission. Because, if there’s to be an example from those in leadership and in pastoral ministry, then that example is for the purpose of encouraging and equipping those who are watching, and learning, and following; because you’re balancing whatever your mission is with your marriage and family as well.
All of us are on mission, every last one of us. This is why we never say—and I talked to my family about this—you know, Bridget and 1 are going—and our seven youngest children—our children are 24, 22, 10, 8, 6, 5, 4, 3, and 18 months; right? [Applause] I have a lot of them trophies, man! Alright. One of the things that we do is—we’re trying to communicate to these younger ones; you know, the seven of them that are ten and under, who are going with us—we try to communicate to them what’s going on and what’s happening.
Here’s what we don’t say to them and what we don’t say to other people—we don’t say to them—“We’re going to be missionaries in Zambia.” We don’t say that to them, and we don’t say that to other people; because that would sort of imply that we’re not already on mission, and that other Christians aren’t on mission. We are! We are. I’ve been a church-planter for the past nine years. Why is it that I can plant a church in Houston, and I’m just a church-planter; but you cross a border and plant a church, and now you’re a missionary? We’re all supposed to be on mission, right?
Voddie: So, we’re going to serve. I’m going to serve as Dean of the seminary at the African Christian University. That’s what we’re going to do, because we want to communicate this idea of Christianity being about mission/of Christianity being about us living our lives in such a way that we express our desire for Christ to have the fullness of the reward for which He died. That’s every Christian—that’s all of us.
Michelle: That’s all of us. Oh, this is just getting so good! Are you taking notes?—because I am. This is important stuff—to live our life on mission. We have more Voddie Baucham coming up right after the break. I’ll be back in two minutes.
[Radio Station Spot Break]
Michelle: Welcome back to FamilyLife This Week. I'm Michelle Hill. We are hearing from Voddie Baucham today, and he is sharing just about how to live life on mission. Voddie’s been talking about that misunderstanding that there are some super-real Christians, who are living on mission, and then there are, well, the rest of us.
Well, Voddie is going to give us an example from his own personal journey on how God is keeping him on mission. Here’s Voddie.
Voddie: When we talk about this divided attention, and these divided responsibilities, what I want to do is sort of now use our experience as a kind of extended illustration of how that works itself out.
The introduction: “How did this all start?” I’ve desired, for a long time, to visit Africa. There’s something that a lot of people don’t understand about black people here in the United States, as it relates to our heritage and our history. I have to walk up to people all the time and say, “Hi, my name’s Voddie Baucham,”—a nice, wholesome German name. [Laughter] It’s been interesting, especially when I’m outside of the United States, to have that conversation with people; you know? Because they ask me, and they’re just confused: “How did you…?” “What…?” “You…?”—you know. And then I sort of let them off the hook. I go: “You see, we had this thing called slavery. There was a German family who owned my family. After slavery, we were left with the name of this German family, because we don’t know where we came from.”
There’s this very interesting thing for us about Africa and going back to that place. I’ll never forget the first time I went to Zambia. Zambia was the first place that I went on the African continent. I’m going to preach at a church there in Lusaka, Zambia. There’s a pastor there—he’s also a pediatrician—his name is Grave Singogo. Grave’s father was also a member of the church at the time. Grave’s father was this smooth old dude—85 years old—still getting around, driving himself around, just as spry and energetic. He walked up to me with his big old grin on his face and greeted me. He grabbed me by my face, and he says, “Is this your first time in Africa?” I said, “Yes, sir, it is.” And he just kissed me [smacking kiss sound]. He said, “My son, welcome home.”
I just started crying, right there in the parking lot. I hadn’t even gotten in church yet. [Laughter] I stood up and, as I was preaching that week, I thought: “Isn’t this interesting? Several hundred years ago, my ancestors, for whatever reason—probably sold by some of the ancestors of the folks here in this church—went on a journey/an arduous journey: came to the United States, lost all contact with who we were, went through some of the most difficult experiences that any people group has gone through; and yet, God, in His providence, preserved us.
Beyond preserving us, I was allowed to grow up in the wealthiest, most powerful nation in the history of the world with some of the richest theological history/some of the best theological training available on planet earth. I was able to access that training; and then go back on a short plane ride, relatively speaking, to that same place, where my folks were taken from, and unload what God, in His providence, had allowed me to acquire because of the difficulties all those times ago. There’s this unbelievable connection that I had there, just from a personal perspective.
And then there’s an unbelievable opportunity. The Reformed Baptists of Zambia have a long, robust history. They’ve been planting churches there for, at least, the last 25 years. It’s a completely indigenous work, so I’m not going over there to start anything. These are Zambians, who’ve been doing this work for a long time—some uniquely-gifted men. There are people from all over the region, who have come to these men, over the last 25 years, basically saying, “Can you help us do what you’ve done here?” These are the individuals who are starting African Christian University, and not only African Christian University, but also the seminary that will be attached to African Christian University. It’s a unique opportunity because of the things that God has done and put in place in my life, for me to be a unique fit in this unique place for this unique work.
Why is this work important? Here’s why: we all hear about what’s going on in West Africa and East Africa. We hear about Boko Haram; we hear about this Islamic migration south. Europe tried, early on, to evangelize the African continent; there is some residue of Christian influence. I’m grateful for that residue of Christian influence; but throughout the continent, there is a strong Muslim influence—an aggressive, violent Islamic influence. The continent of Africa needs to be evangelized, and it’s not going to happen from the north. If it’s going to happen, it’s going to have to happen from the south. For the last 25 years, there’s been an incubator, where a strong, vibrant, life-giving, church-planting, gospel-preaching, indigenous ministry has been rising up, and is being positioned right now to do just that—to evangelize the continent, from the south upward—that’s what this is about. That’s the big picture here. [Applause]
So for you, whomever you are, and wherever you are, and whatever constitutes that mission side of your life—whether it is, right now, “God has called us to this mission of raising, training, evangelizing, and discipling these children,” or “…this child that God has given us,”—whether it’s that right there, or it’s that you’re in pastoral ministry, or you’re in whatever kind of ministry—whatever that is, there is this need to live with that tension. Paul talks about that tension, and it is an important tension. We don’t get to just have the attitude that says, “Well, God called me; therefore, if I take care of His business, He’ll take care of my family.” That used to be the old-school way of thinking about it: “God will take care of my family. My wife will be there; she’ll do that.” Because, as we say back in Texas, “That dog won’t hunt.” [Laughter]
So whatever it is—whether it’s this end of the spectrum or all the way at the other end of the spectrum—there is this reminder that you now have this sort of divided interest. It’s not a divided interest between the godly thing/ministry and the not-godly thing/marriage. You need to understand that marriage is your primary ministry. That’s where you get divided; because when you get married, your marriage becomes your primary ministry. It becomes the foundation upon which all your other ministry is built. It becomes the place where you’re evaluated as to whether or not you’re qualified for other ministry. It becomes the place where you learn the disciplines that are necessary in any and every other ministry. It becomes the place where you are an example for those to whom you minister. So it is ministry! It is ministry!
Here’s where the difficulty comes/here’s where the tension comes; the tension becomes the ministry inside the home and inside the marriage, and the ministry outside the home and outside the marriage. There is a constant ebb and flow and working to manage that tension. All of us live with that; every one of us lives with that. When there are decisions to be made, and when there are prices to be paid, all of these things have to be taken into consideration. But when we do, an amazing thing happens; we come to this place, where we realize that we’re on a much greater adventure than we ever bargained for or ever saw coming.
I believe, if somebody had told Bridget all the stuff that we would go through and all of the adventures and scary things that we would do—I believe, if somebody told her that before she married me—I’d still be chasing her, [Laughter] because she would just run. But the fact of the matter is neither of us would trade any of it, because God is good. So whatever you are having to trust Him with, He’s worthy of your trust.
Let’s pray; “Oh God, how we thank You and praise You for who You are and for what You’ve done. We are grateful to You for your goodness, Your kindness, Your mercy toward us. Grant, by Your grace, that we would follow You in faith, that we might serve You, and that it might be our prayer that we would see Your kingdom come. Amen.”
Michelle: I am thankful for Voddie Baucham. I am thankful for the words of truth that he speaks into so many lives, and how he has lived out God’s mission in his life.
You know, it was about 20 years ago when a pastor read these verses to me, from
1 Peter 2: “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness, into His marvelous light. For once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God. You had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” The pastor looked at the congregation. I felt he was looking right at me, and he was like, “That’s your job description!” From then on, that has been the mission statement of my life: that I am to proclaim the excellencies of Him!
Now it’s your turn to look for that job description/that mission that God is taking you on. As Voddie said, you don’t have to cross any borders; you live it right now. You just live it out.
Hey, next week, dads, we’ve got a show just for you, if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed/if you are feeling on top of the world because you are Superman with superpowers. Next week, it’s Father’s Day—hint, hint if you haven’t gotten your dad a card yet! Dads, please listen in next week. We’ve got a great half-hour planned just for you! I hope you can join us for that.
Hey, thanks for listening! I want to thank the president of FamilyLife, David Robbins, along with our station partners around the country. A big “Thank you!” to our engineer today, Keith Lynch. Thanks to our producer, Marques Holt. Justin Adams is our mastering engineer, and Megan Martin is our production coordinator.
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