Cross Cultural Leadership:

Us leaders in the West lead from an interesting perspective.  When we sit across the table from our developing world counter-parts we have an unfair advantage.  We have wealth on our side.  I read once that ninety percent of the Christian wealth in the world is held by Christians in the United States.  So we sit across the table from our brothers and sisters and give them ideas about how we can spend “our” money, not realizing that it all belongs to Jesus.  What are our friends going to say?  “No, that’s not a good idea!”  I don’t think so.  In fact I know so.  I was reminded of that this past week.  We were working with partners of ours in Latin America.  They gave us a list of projects we could help them with.  In our second meeting one person shared what moved their heart in the projects.  However, after some probing and re-assurement on my part our partner admitted that none of those were on their priority list, but something entirely different.  But it took me working hard at convincing our partner that we really wanted to do what they saw as the number one priority that they shared being on their heart in the meeting.

Think about it.  If someone sat across your dining room table with $100,000 saying they had some ideas about how to remodel your home, would you contradict them or say no?  I doubt it.  I’ll bet you’d think it was better to get the work done this person wanted to do than to risk losing the money.  I think many times that’s how our friends in other countries think about our interactions with them.

It’s only when our true priorities in ministry are theirs that we can move forward on their agenda and really see things happen in the Kingdom of God.  In your cross cultural interactions have you been the one giving the ideas or have you stopped and listened to your partners?  What has been on their hearts?  Have you thought about funding those projects close to their hearts?  

That’s this leader’s view.




2 responses to “Cross Cultural Leadership:

  1. Having grown up in Africa for 14 years, I saw this happen all the time. My husband always says that people often want to help in ways that are enjoyable for THEM or make THEM feel good, not what people actually need.

    It’s awesome you are so aware of this.

    • Kristen,
      Thanks so much for your observations. I’m also reminded of Steve Saints comments about a church well meaning American built for the Aucas. It sits in dis-repair because the tribe would rather meet under God’s umbrella in the jungle.
      We Americans have a lot to learn.
      It was great talking with you and Mike yesterday! I love LifePoint and her people.

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