5 Tips For Interacting With Guys On a Mission Trip

Christian guys can seem like an endangered species. So when suddenly you find yourself serving alongside a hardworking, Jesus-loving, baby-carrying brother, it can be easy to lose your mind.

If you should ever find yourself on a mission trip with an eligible bachelor or two, consider me your sane voice of reason and remember these five things:

1. Keep the mission the mission.

You didn’t sign up for this mission trip in order to snag a man, right? I know you chose to travel to this particular place because you want to share Christ with others through your words and actions. You want to bless others. Maybe even change a life or two for good. Don’t deviate from your mission. The mission hasn’t changed; your focus has just shifted momentarily. Cry out to God to help you live and serve fully in the moment—seeking His pleasure and others’ good rather than your crush’s attention.

2. Expect a struggle.

I’m about 92.385% sure you’ll develop a crush on someone on your team while you’re on this mission trip. (Been there, done that!) Speaking from experience, I’d encourage you to be suspicious of your sudden, intense feelings. Stop and think about it for a minute. You’re spending a concentrated amount of time with a member of the opposite sex in super-close quarters on an intensely “spiritual” trip. Throw in a little culture shock, and you’re sure to feel more for this guy than you would if you met him anywhere else.

Don’t beat yourself up over this inner struggle. Instead, share your innermost thoughts and desires with your Father God in your prayers and/or a journal. Don’t pretend that these feelings don’t exist, but also don’t let them steal the day (or week or month). Remind yourself of the mission. Stay focused, soldier!

No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him (2 Tim. 2:4).

3. Guard yourself—and the guys on the trip—from unnecessary distraction.


  • Dress to serve, not to impress.
  • Reserve your deepest prayer requests and thoughts for your female team leader or trusted friend. Pray in group settings or with other girls, but steer clear of praying one-on-one with a guy on your team.
  • Keep your hands off the guys. Save your backrubs and hugs for those needy kids in the orphanage or that cute baby Koala.

4. Decide ahead of time not to start a romantic relationship during the mission trip.

Emotions run high on these trips, and your feelings may very well change after you return home. Also, you may find that the guy is someone different entirely when he’s back in his day-to-day routine. Now is not the best time for a brand-new romantic relationship. (Remember, I’m your sane voice of reason here!)

5. Be yourself.

While we should always be wise in our interactions with guys, this doesn’t mean you need to leave your personality or voice at home. Be your normal, lovely self. Enjoy this adventure of a lifetime!

Have you ever been on a mission trip? If so, was it a real struggle to stay focused on the mission? Can you think of anything else that might help other girls who are planning on going on one soon?

About Author

Paula Marsteller

Paula no longer tries to catch guys' attention by swallowing live goldfish, arm wrestling, and jumping down flights of stairs. (She's married to a wonderful man now!) She spends her days caring for her son, Iren, and writing for Revive Our Hearts. She's the author of Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl: On Her Journey from Neediness to Freedom, and she and her family live in New York. You can catch all her writing on PaulaWrites.com.

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  • Leah

    I haven’t ever gotten a crush on a mission trip, but a lot of the girls who have gone with me have gotten one (or already had one) while on the trip. My word of advice to all you girls going through this: it is sooooo frustrating to be on the other end, because I would love to be getting closer to you! There’s nothing wrong with spending time with guys, but when it becomes flirty, you’ve gone too far. By acting like this, you’re wasting time you could be using to get closer to other girls in your group (or even guys as your BROTHERS in Christ) and that saddens everyone around you. Likely, it will even sadden YOU in the future. Besides, the kind of guy you really want can wait until you get home and have known each other a little longer before starting a relationship.

    • phendricks

      It’s really good to hear what it’s like for others on the mission trip. Thanks for sharing, Leah!

  • Talya

    Really really great post Paula!

    • phendricks

      Thank you, Tayla!

  • Ellie

    I laughed when I saw this title. It’s such practical advise! Been there done that and I can attest to the fact that when you are so focused on your internal romantic feelings, you MISS OUT on everything God is doing on the trip. I also agree with Leah. Don’t think that your crushing isn’t affecting everyone else on the trip. Sister, it is pretty obvious. Not only is it a huge distraction, it contradicts the purpose of the trip. Did you come to serve, or to have your own selfish desires met?

    • phendricks

      Ouch. Good question, Ellie.

  • Alexis

    This is really cool! I’ve had a crush on this one guy from my church for a long time now and last year we went on a mission trip together and it was really fun! I made sure to keep Jesus the mission, not starting a relationship. I think that has helped me now. We became friends through that and it gave us something to talk about after the trip! It also helps to keep in mind that God’s timing is perfect so don’t try to rush it.

    • phendricks

      That’s so encouraging to hear, Alexis!

  • Joy

    This has not hapened to me, but I am afraid someday I will be tempted and will fail. I don’t even talk much to guys just to avoid my thoughts from getting crazy, but I know that’s unhealthy. I don’t want to be extremist, but I want to be pure. Any thoughts on this?

    • phendricks

      Hey, Joy,

      How exactly are you afraid you’ll fail?

      You’ve probably realized by now that not talking to guys won’t keep your thoughts from “getting crazy.”

      Guys are made in God’s image, just as we are. As such, we have so much to learn from them–and to enjoy about them. The best way to be pure isn’t to avoid guys, but to pursue God.

      Praying for you now,


      • Joy


  • Dakota Vaughn

    This post couldn’t have come at a better time! I’m leaving for a missions trip to Jackson, Kentucky in six days and I think this was exactly what I needed to hear, and something I definitely need to keep in mind during the trip.

    • phendricks

      Cool, Dakota! What will you be doing? Praying for your time now.

  • MGD

    I definitely agree that relationships on mission trips do distract and are a bad thing. But I do want to point out that friendships with guys in Christ can be really awesome in a positive way.
    I have been deeply impacted by a friendship with a guy I met on a mission trip. Our first conversation was about the Lord. Because of the logistics of the trip, we weren’t serving in the same place, and we didn’t distract each other from the mission there. If anything, we encouraged each other in our faith and our mission to serve. He and I have kept in touch, and our friendship is based on Christ alone (not the hope of a relationship). We’ve learned a lot about the Lord together. I know God put him in my life on that mission trip with specific timing, and we’ve been able to encourage each other in faith since the trip.
    So, at least in my experience, friendships with guys in Christ, as opposed to relationships, can really be significant and not a bad thing on mission trips. I’d be interested to hear other perspectives on this, though.

    • phendricks

      Awesome, MGD!

  • Sonia E Vargas

    I’ve definitely felt those strong emotions and it was on my first missions trip! However, since that time I’ve had to train myself to treat and work with men on and off the mission field as brothers in Christ and friends (at a safe distance). It’s good to bring your emotions to the surface and ask yourself: “Is he the kind of man I want to marry?” or “Are we heading in the same direction spiritually?” It’s better to keep a check on your emotions and make wonderful memories of serving on the mission and being impacted by the lives you are reaching. I just completed my 7th mission trip and it’s still working for me. 🙂

    • phendricks

      7 trips? Sounds like you’re a pro, Sonia! 🙂

  • Andrea M

    This is a great article. Just had to share my small experience with guys and missions trips. 🙂 Our youth group was down in WV for a week. I was in a sorta-almost-more-than-just-friends-but-not-quite-sure “relationship” with a guy who was WRONG, ALL wrong for ME. Going down to WV helped me look at our relationship with different eyes. While down there, however, I became attracted to Brandon, a guy I had known for a few years. He told me later he really really felt God pushing him to get to know me better. It might have been all those conditions you listed above, but I really feel God used THIS mission trip to help me see why I shouldn’t have that guy back home. 1 1/2 years later, Brandon and I are happily dating and discussing marriage. But did we rush things down in WV? NO…Brandon was wise and waited to ask me out until several months AFTER we got home. 🙂

    • phendricks

      That’s so cool, Andrea. Thank you for sharing!

  • Oh my goodness!!!!!!! This is EXACTLY what I’ve been needing lately. I’m getting ready to go down to Orlando, Florida this summer and my church youth group is working with life way ministries to put on a convention and do service projects as well. I’ve found myself questioning everything you listed above and it’s truly inspiring and making me realize I need to set everything straight before I leave! Thank you so much. It’s truly what I needed to hear. <3 xoxo Love, Molly

    • phendricks

      I’m so glad, Molly! Have an awesome trip enjoying your guy and girl friends alike. 🙂

  • Grace

    Honestly, it’s God’s sovereignty that I read this as I am going on a missions trip in a couple of weeks. I have a question though. If feelings are coming (even if you don’t want them), is it a good idea to tell an older girl who is also on the trip to keep you accountable or to keep quiet as to suppress the emotions and make the feelings seem less real?

    • phendricks

      Good question, Grace. I think I’d lean toward not telling her, because in my experience:

      a) girls often encourage something that they swear is there when it’s really not
      b) talking about it with someone else can make it seem more real, when nothing’s actually happened.

      If you really want to talk to someone about it on the trip, I’d encourage you to talk to a female leader rather than a friend.

      I hope that helps. Have an awesome time serving in HIS strength, for HIS glory,


  • Kayla

    Really good article. I’ve been on a few missions trips and I know that anything like this that causes self-consciousness really detracts from the potential of the trip. Instead of working hard to bless the people where you are at, you are thinking how disgusting and smelly you are from the work. To get the most out of a trip it is definitely best not to spend thought on relationships, which often focus your attention on yourself.

    The funny thing is that the way my church’s trips are set up you have to end up praying one-on-one with a guy at some point. I can testify that this can be very unhelpful. I’ve seen way too much drama because of the setup.
    I am going to share this article with my youth group before the next trip because I think we all really need it.

    • phendricks

      Thanks for sharing, Kayla!

  • Rachel Freeman

    I think these tips are great!!! It seems like whenever our youth group comes back from a camp or trip there are always New “couples ” . I’m going on a mission trip to Arlington Texas over spring break , definitely going to share these with the girls going !!!!

    • phendricks

      Thanks for sharing, Rachel, and for going with them!

  • Someoneintheworld

    THANK YOU SO MUCH!! THIS article was exactly what I needed. I’m going on a medical mission trip in May to Ecuador and I’ve actually been thinking, ” I wonder if I’ll meet any cute guys. But wait–I’m going on a MISSION trip to serve God, not to meet guys.” So this helped me alot. Thanks a ton!


    Oh my goodness. I was reading this post going me…..me…..exactly me! I’ve been to Costa Rica for missions trips 3 times now. After graduation this spring I want to go to Bible school to train for full time missions. Last year I met a super nice, good looking guy on my trip, and ministry went out the window. We had much in common and spent almost all the time that we could together. He asked my parents to get to know me better and I really thought he was the one. Turns out what I had thought was God speaking to me was all imagination. He doesn’t even believe some of the Bible. OUCH!

    This summer I am going to Nicaragua. I will stay focused by Gods grace. There is so much here that I can’t say. Thankfully the only thing I have to regret is wasted time. God protected me. JUST DON’T DO IT GIRLS, IF IT IS THE RIGHT GUY GOD WILL WORK IT OUT LATER.. FOR NOW… STAY FOCUSED. IT’S WORTH IT!