As to talents, there is a considerable difference to be made betwixt a principal and an assistant in any mission. In every mission I conceive there should be one person at least of a clear head, calm, cool, enterprising, prudent, and persevering; and as it will be an object of the first importance in due time to translate the Scriptures, it would be well for him to have some knowledge of languages. But as to others who may accompany him, no great talents are necessary; a warm heart for Christ, an ardent love to the souls of poor heathens, an upright character, and a decent share of common sense, are sufficient. No man is fit to be sent, in my judgment, either as a principal or an assistant, who does not possess a peculiar desire after the work; such a desire as would render him unhappy in any other employment. I do not mean to plead for enthusiastical impressions; yet an impression there must be, and an abiding one too, that all the fatigues, disappointments, non-success, and discouragements of such an undertaking shall not be able to efface. When God has had any extraordinary work to perform, it has been his practice to raise up suitable instruments, and to impress their minds with suitable views and desires. The wall of Jerusalem needed rebuilding, and God put it into the heart of Nehemiah to go and build it. It was this particular desire which God put into his heart which enabled him to encounter difficulties and surmount obstructions at which ninety-nine men out of a hundred would have fainted. When the second temple was to be built, God stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel and of Joshua. It is not every person however who may possess a desire to be a missionary who ought to be accepted. You will probably find many during this great stir who will offer themselves to go, but whose desire upon examination will be found to have originated in a dissatisfaction with something at home. They dislike the politics of their country, and therefore wish to leave it; or they have been chagrined by disappointment in civil and worldly affairs; or they are vain, and conceive it to be a fine thing to attract the attention and bear a commission from thousands; or they are idle, and wish to ramble up and down the world; or inconsiderate, and have not properly counted the cost. Even ministers will be found who are unacceptable at home, and therefore desire to change their situation. But none of these motives will bear. It is true, every one who was discontented, distressed, or in debt, gathered themselves to David; and they might answer his purpose, but not ours. A pure, disinterested, ardent desire to serve the Lord in this work is the one thing needful. When we perceive such desire in a candidate, and he voluntarily offers, or in some way discovers his inclination, we then make inquiry what is his general Christian character. Is he upright, modest, benevolent, prudent, patient? if so, we are satisfied.
Excerpt from: “The Establishment of the Glasgow Missionary Society,” in the Fugitive Pieces.
Fuller, A. G. (1988). The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller: Expositions—Miscellaneous. (J. Belcher, Ed.) (Vol. 3, pp. 823–824). Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications.