Unhealthy scenario #2: Ignoring negative emotions

Emotions are a part of being human, and  every human experiences all the emotions. Missionaries are human. Normal humans. That means that they experience the same emotions the rest of us do, and that includes sadness, anger, and fear.

For us to think otherwise is disastrous.

The denial or suppression of so-called negative emotions, whether out of pride or erroneous theology, produces unhealthy results. Hypocrisy undermines the ministry of missionaries who, for whatever reason, feel like they cannot own their feelings. Ignoring them doesn’t make them go away. The pressure of trying to live up to what they may think are our standards can lead to burn out, and the attempt to keep them under wraps is exhausting.

The Shepherd knows all about our emotions; he experienced them all as Immanuel. He knows how to walk alongside his sheep when they are going through a time of sadness, or fear, or anger. As under-shepherds, we must start with the reality that missionaries are not superhuman, capable of living “above” all negative emotions. Our job is to guide them to the One who alone can help them process their emotions in a healthy way.