“A Supreme Desire to Please Him”

By Evan D. Burns

In addressing the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention in Richmond, Adoniram Judson commended the great calling of following Christ on the missionary road.  A supreme desire to please God is the great motive for missionary service.  This statement captures well the prevailing drive in Judson’s life and labor:

It is of great importance that all who engage in missionary efforts should be influenced by evangelical motives.  It is worse than useless to be prompted by ostentation or a love of notoriety.  Neither should we enter on this work to assure ourselves of our own personal interest in Christ, though such assurance may be desirable.  Neither should the salvation of the heathen be the motive—the primary consideration—though this is unquestionably a legitimate end. What, then, is the prominent, all-constraining impulse that should urge us to make sacrifices in this cause?  There is one Being in the universe that unites in himself all the perfections of Deity with all the purest and tenderest of human nature.  He has at great expense set up a kingdom in this world.  He has set his heart on the enlargement of that kingdom, and is constantly exerting his Divine agency to accomplish that purpose.  A supreme desire to please him is the grand motive that should animate Christians in their missionary efforts.  And in every concern of life we should often look up to that lovely Being and inquire, “Does this please him?”

When I commenced my labors in India there was not an individual beyond the Ganges that had any idea of a God.  Now, in all those extensive regions, the people believe in one Supreme Intelligence.  Then there was not an individual that prayed to the Christian’s God.  Now there are many lovely churches and hundreds of happy Christians.  I mention this, not because the Gospel has not been equally successful in other parts of the world, but because I am better acquainted with that field of missionary labor, and I desired to give you some idea of the success of the Gospel in Eastern Asia.[1]

[1]Middleditch, Burmah’s Great, 384-385.


Evan D. Burns (Ph.D. Candidate, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is on faculty at Asia Biblical Theological Seminary, and he lives in Southeast Asia with his wife and twin sons.  They are missionaries with Training Leaders International.