I am a sucker for stupid reality shows. I typically avoid ones that feature B-list celebrities because they make me sad. I feel like I am watching (supporting) someone selling their soul for one last shot at fame. Recently, however, in an attempt to find a show that my daughters would watch with me, I stumbled onto the Lifetime show, “Growing Up Supermodel”. This show follows a group of young models that are risking everything (including privacy) to live up to the careers of their famous parents. Throughout the season they discover that having a famous name is a double-edged sword. It gets them in the front door, but the expectations placed on them is burdensome and at times painful.
If there were are a TV show about my childhood years, it could be called Growing Up Hippie. -- Sounds exciting huh… but I’m pretty sure viewers would be bored to tears, since I rebelled by saying no to sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll-- Let’s just say I’ve always been a little uptight. My Hippie home was similar to growing up in a pastor or missionary family. Caring for others and seeking the common good was drilled into little me. Much of my early childhood was spent on a Paiute Reservation in the Sierra Nevadas. My dad is a Nurse Practitioner and in the early 80’s functioned as the community’s primary physician. With the closest hospital 2 hours away this left him managing many crises 24 hours a day. Meanwhile, my mom, who is now a therapist, worked hard to care for our family and many of the neighbor kids. She spent her days babysitting for teachers or working as an aid in the special education classroom. Despite their “strange” hippie ways, my parent's hard work was appreciated and they were well liked in our town of 300.
The downside to growing up this way is that, though I am passionate about caring for my neighbor, it sometimes comes from a place of meeting my own need for success or affirmation. The ugly truth is that doing good gave me a sense of safety and superiority
---- people would see that I work hard and thus like me….
Oh, the lies!
I was shaken to this reality about 10 years ago when I accompanied my daughter's 4th grade class to one of the many missions located in the San Antonio area and I heard for the first time a Coahuiltecans perspective on the impact of the church on native life.
“Even before the missions altered their living habits, the native people were pressed by nomadic tribes encroaching from the north and south. In addition, a more ominous threat came with the introduction and spread of European diseases that, in time, decimated their population. Struggling under such hardships, they proved to be relatively willing recruits for the missionaries. The Indians found food and refuge in the missions in exchange for labor and submission to religious conversion.”
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I realized, for the first time, that I acted much like the Friars when I “loved my neighbor” locally and around the world. I would identify what I saw as “savage behaviors” in a culture and offer my help in a sometimes manipulative way that not only destroyed the group but damaged the name of Jesus. I was devastated as I realized that, despite my good intention, I had hurt many in my path.
I realized that I was ….. a feel-good missionary.
A “Feel-Good” missionary has a deep, almost primal, desire to love their neighbor. Usually stemming from a “need to be needed,” they are the first to call the church when they discover a community in need. Their impulsive nature leads to well-intentioned, yet short-term, premature, and/or reactive decisions. The Feel-Gooder might be heard saying, “They need us! We must act right now!” As a result, Feel-Gooders often end up burnt out or feel “used” because they unconsciously hope to receive recognition, love or approval for their mission work.
Which type of missionary are you?
Click Here to learn more about the 4 types of missionaries.