Stay, listen

With each passing season I’m more and more convinced that the kindest, most loving, most respectful, most relational thing we can ever do is to just rete (stay) and koute (listen). Whenever I take an opportunity to truly do that, I am humbled and I learn.

This is not to say there is no need for teaching, that there is no benefit to learning other ways. It is only to say that we ought to seek first to listen, to learn, and then and only then should we attempt to tell or to teach. Save that stuff for later when we have respected and listened to the people that do life here every day of every month of every year of every decade. I’m thinking we have more to learn than they do. Rete, koute

We’re going into this adventure expecting many learning experiences, many paradigm shifts, and many challenges to our egos. There is one thing that I think (hope!) we have figured out before ever getting on the plane: to proceed with humility, never forgetting that we have much to learn. The name of our blog was chosen partly to remind us of this, a necessary reminder since what we’re going to do (“cross-cultural ministry”) carries the inherent implication that we are the ones giving out rather than the ones receiving. The verb “to minister” means “to give aid or service.” And of course, we are going because we do believe we can be of service to others. After all, we are both successful and experienced in our respective fields. We are both accustomed to being very competent and productive in our familiar North American context. Therein lies the danger. It is vitally important that we not mistake our professional competence for cultural competence and that we not assume we already know what the people we seek to minister to need and want from us. Going prepared to be still and listen, to learn and to receive, will both bless us and help us to be a blessing.

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