John 12:24-26 I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.
The “death” we are called to die as the condition of fruitfulness may well be less dramatic than martyrdom. Nevertheless, it is a real death, especially for cross cultural missionaries. It may be for them a death to comfort and ease, and a separation from home and relatives; or a death to personal ambition as they renounce the temptation to climb the professional ladder, being content to remain in a humble servant ministry instead; or a death to cultural imperialism, refusing to exalt their inherited culture (despite it being part of their identity) and identifying instead with the culture of their adoption. In these and other ways we may be called to “die” as the means to a life of fruitfulness.
The Radical Disciple, By John Stott, pg. 123.