Certain things become tricky when you are a missionary. They shouldn’t, but they do. One of those things is vacation.
Most missionaries live in exotic locations. They are international travelers, expats experiencing at least one foreign culture everyday. What more could they want?
Disney World. That’s what.
Better yet, a day at the spa and Disney World!
Ok. Maybe all missionaries don’t want Disney World, but we all want the idea of Disney. We want an honest to goodness vacation.
Time away from work. Time away from home. Time away from the daily grind, which, mind you, includes abnormally high levels of stress. Burn out is real. Compassion fatigue is real. Culture and language learning exhaustion is real.
The fact is missionaries, just like non-missionaries, should go on vacation. But of course, that wasn’t the question. The question was can missionaries go on vacation?
Most missionaries live on the generosity and support of churches, organization, and individuals. It is our responsibility to honor that support with healthy and wise financial stewardship. The problem is not all supporters evaluate heathy and wise financial stewardship the same way.
Priorities are one of the key factors that separate supporters on the issue of missionaries and vacation.
Interests, experience, stage of life, personality, and career are a few of the things that impact our financial priorities. For instance, some prioritize their home. Others prioritize cars. Some prioritize technology. Others prioritize investment funds and saving for the future. Some prioritize experiences.
Homes, cars, technology, investments, experiences: each of these have value. In fact, most healthy, wise financial stewards place a balanced portion of their monthly income into each of these buckets. The problem comes when we judge how much others place in each of these buckets. More to the point, the problem comes when we judge how much we assume others place in these buckets.
So, can missionaries go on vacation?
Of course, they can. They can travel, rest, and enjoy experiences just like everyone else.
The truth is most missionaries don’t wrestle with the question of whether or not they can go on vacation. Rather, they go on vacation and wrestle with whether or not they should tell anyone they went on vacation–a vacation that probably looks exotic and expensive even though it cost a fraction of a trip to Disney World, much less a day at the spa and Disney World!
Many missionaries opt not to tell anyone about their vacations (including family members). At the very least, they minimize their vacations. The cost of criticism from people who support and love them is just too high. It negates the value of the vacation.
After weighing the options, we decided we do not want to keep our vacations a secret; even though we completely understand why so many choose to keep their vacations under wraps.
We value the trust our supporters have placed in us to steward our finances (our income provided by God through you). Keeping secrets, such as the reality that we needed and went on vacation, isn’t a trust building tactic. So, we are going to break the mold and share when we go on vacation.
How else can we say you thank you for your support, support that allows us to save a portion of our monthly income so that when the time comes we can rest, restore, reflect, and refocus?
Support that says: Yes, you can vacation.
With Gratitude and Joy,
John and Amy Patton
*Where mentioned names have been changed to honor each person’s story. Photos have been blurred intentionally. Photos are the sole property of John and Amy Patton and cannot be saved or used for any purpose without our permission.