(Acts 14, NIV) The activities of Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey demonstrate some of the qualities a missionary will need.
Effective speech: “They spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Greeks believed” (v. 1). This is not necessarily being an expert public speaker. Missionaries speak effectively when they know God’s word and they are filled with the Holy Spirit.
Courage: They spoke “boldly for the Lord” (v. 3). This courage led to perseverance.
Perseverance: When there was a threat on their lives, they went to other cities, “where they continued to preach the gospel” (v. 7). They did not let persecution stop them. Paul was even stoned and left for dead. “But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe. They preached the gospel in that city and won a large number of disciples” (vv. 20-21). All this after nearly being stoned to death!
Discernment: Before Paul was led of the Spirit to heal a man lame from birth, Luke wrote: “Paul looked directly at him, (and) saw that he had faith to be healed” (v. 9). A missionary must depend on the Holy Spirit to know when and where true faith is demonstrated.
Humility: Because of the healing of this lame man, the crowds wanted to sacrifice to Paul and Barnabas: “The gods have come down to us in human form!” (v. 11). When Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they quickly shouted: “Friends, why are you doing this? We too are only human, like you” (v. 15). Missionary work is always initiated and accomplished by God!
Encouragement: “Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith” (vv. 21-22). They told the new disciples: “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” Salvation includes the work of sanctification, growing stronger in the Lord. This involves what I call spiritual administration.
Spiritual administration: “Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust” (v. 23). Leaders must be formed so that the work will continue when the missionary has moved on. This is a spiritual activity, where the leaders are “committed to the Lord.”
Reporting back to those who sent them out: “They sailed back to Antioch, where they had been committed to the grace of God for the work they had now completed. On arriving there, they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles” (vv. 26-27). The sending bodies must be inspired to continue to pray for the new converts in God’s mission fields.