Disclaimer: this blog is rather long. We have a lot to think about this week. I will try to keep them shorter in the days ahead. But, I can’t really promise that. 🙂
The last two days of class this week have been quite thought-provoking. I’m actually quite exhausted because there is so much information that we’ve taken in this week that I just want to take time to process. We were asked to go to South Carolina this weekend, but I think we’re going to stay here. We need the rest. It’s been great, but again- so much to think about.
Yesterday, we discussed an issue that’s big on our hearts: multi-cultural teams. We are going to be the only Americans on an all-Peruvian team. That’s not a bad thing; in fact, that’s probably one of the most exciting things we’ll be doing. As we talked about in our Equipping module, different cultures bring to light different aspects about God and in worshiping, praying, and studying together with our new team, I’m sure we’ll learn more about God than we ever thought we would. However, it’s a different culture. So, what does a “team” look like in Lima, Peru? How do “team meetings” function? What will our role be in the “team”? How do we discern our part in the “team”, from speaking, offering input, making decisions, and carrying out responsabilities?
In good ol’ CIT fashion….none of these questions were answered. More questions were offered and we were given lots more to consider and think about. Actually, not answering questions is probably the best thing CIT could do for us. We are forced to work things out on our own with the Lord. What better way to solve problems?
The one thing we did do was like a case study. We were divided into four teams and given four different explanations of four different cultures. We first, as a team, had to come up with what our culture looks like and acts like. Then, we were given a scenario. We were going to be divided up so one member from each team would make up a new team (meaning, four new teams with one rep. from each team comprising the new teams…I hope that makes sense). The scenario was that there was a mission board who was wanting to see how multi-cultural teams work together, so they were having a week-long missions conference in Romania and everyone had to work together to plan this conference. Each original team was given a part of the conference to plan, and then we had to come together in the new teams and work through the entire conference and come to a consensus on what the conference would look like.
The culture I was a part of was one where it’s very communal: no decisions are made independently, everyone is family, everyone is close-knit, relationships are more important than tasks…in a nutshell. This is very prevalent in Papua New Guinea and it will be similar in Latin America. Our task was to plan the Fellowship parts of the week. We had to act like our culture during this team meeting, which meant we cared more about talking to the people than getting the work done, we want lots of time for fellowship and less time for meetings and policies, and we’re concerned with how everyone is feeling – no strife! Basically, the over-all consensus from our original team was that we got trampled, disregarded, and ignored during the larger team meeting sessions.
I could go on with how the other teams acted, but that would take too much time. I’m sure half of you are asleep by now anyway! The point of this exercise was to give us an idea of what a multi-cultural team looks like and to put us in the shoes of someone from a different culture, to feel some of what they’re feeling during meetings and understand more of where they’re coming from. It was EXTREMELY affective. I will never look at multi-cultural teams the same ever again.
Today, we moved on to Leadership. Brian said that he was a little frustrated because they talked today about, basically, perfect leadership and the odds are, hardly any of us will be leaders and we’re positive our leaders will not be perfect. So, how do you handle that and what do you do? We’re not sure; hopefully, that will be covered in the future.
The one thing I will say is that today gave me a new appreciation for my father. I’ve always known he’s an affective leader; I never knew how much that’s really true until today. Last Sunday, the church we attended with our friends had a pastor who seemed to be “above” everybody else. He preached down to everybody and told us all how to live our lives – never once putting himself on the same level. It was always “you do this; you do that” – never “let’s do this together; we’re in the same boat.” He seemed unapproachable. I have never gotten that feeling from my father. My father leads by example. He goes through struggles with people in his congregation. He’s never been too proud to say, “I’ve been there; God brought me through that, too.” We talked about bearing people’s pain and how a true leader can bear the pain of many. I take that to mean – they can empathize with people in their pain, even go through some of it with them, but they are able to leave that pain at the feet of Jesus. I see that in my father. His prayer life is phenomenal. I have no doubt that he listens to people and takes their pain on himself…but there comes a very real point where he casts it on the feet of Jesus and lets Him handle it. He is an empty vessel that is used by the Lord to meet people where they’re at and love them like Jesus does.
I don’t mean to preach about my dad; I just felt like today’s class on leadership just explained to me how my dad has been in his leadership roles. I’m so proud of him. I don’t feel called to leadership, but if God ever prepares me for it and puts me in that position, at least I have a great example to follow (besides Christ Jesus Himself!).