Cross-cultural ministry. Eeesh. It’s a blast. And complicated and completely unpredictable. Full of mis-communication, humor, excitement, learning and learning and learning again. But there is something truly beautiful and rich about this monster. And as I am seemingly more involved day by day, I’m running into more people who have a little something figured out about Africans and Americans and how we think about this little life. These people are teaching me to open my mind and see how the American culture has led me, how the African culture moves, and what the kingdom of heaven might actually operate like on this earth.
I want to share some insight on cross-cultural interaction and working together. I learned this in an EXP teaching session from a Zambian man who has been serving with Americans for the past 10 years. As Africans and Americans work together, our priorities vary greatly, causing mis-understanding and frustration.
Americans tend to prioritize like this:
Accomplishing the mission/task | Team Unity | Individual Fulfillment
Africans tend to prioritize like this:
Team Unity | Accomplishing the mission/task | Individual Fulfillment
God’s heart is to prioritize like this:
Individual Fulfillment | Team Unity | Accomplishing the mission/task
We both seem to have it a bit wrong, but the beauty is that this clash of cultures has revealed a place where we simply must shift and come into alignment with the heart of God. While I find myself up against this clash daily, I shouldn’t shift to resolve conflict. This is a list of priorities we should all adopt regardless where we live and work, as we learn to do everything as we see our Father doing. What I love most about His priorities is that it makes sense- if we are fulfilled, we can focus on others and build up a strong team, and with a strong team of encouraged people we will be able to accomplish any task at hand with strength. Though relationships, self care and building a team takes time- it is this time that creates space for lasting life-transformation. And it is about time that we learn to take it.
I also want to thank you, as my support system and prayer warriors that you are already making it clear to me that regardless if I have a mission accomplished or not, you believe in who I am. And you are so in line with God’s heart. And it means the world to me:)
|ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Abby Phillips is the Program Architect of Poetice International.