Friday, September 01, 2006

#4 Why I Love My Job

I contend, as well as teach, that the key to success in working overseas is job satisfaction. People say they leave the field because of illness, conflict with associates, finances, persecution, culture stress and a host of other things, but almost any of those obstacles can be overcome if a person really feels they have, as is the title of my book, found their niche in their work.

My niche is teaching cross-cultural studies. Going cross-culturally has different levels. C1 is "like-culture" (mono), which is 90% of ministry activity. C2 is a different culture (better described as social environment) but similar, e.g. middle class Caucasians working with poor illiterate or Americans working in London. C3 is crossing a significant cultural boundary (middle class white American learning enough Arabic to work with Egyptians in Detroit). C4 (not plastic explosives) is anyone who moves from their country into another country, learns the host culture language, customs and social organization. This is the emic principle, becoming an insider. Having been blessed, not only having lived as a C4 worker but being educated in the discipline of how to study and different culture environments, I have a unique and fulfilling career niche.

Globalization means that our world is smaller and culture’s are merging into a collective lingua franca. Those who do not understand the dynamics of culture make the false assumption that similar equal same, believing that just a tweaking of presentation is all that is needed to effectively communicate across cultural barriers. It’s a fatal flaw. Look at any company, church, social or even government policy that is successful and you will find that someone in that organization knows how to read the culture of their market.

I recently taught a class where some MK’s from Australia was going back to the country they were raised. The director of the class warned me, that some of them didn’t feel they needed my class. They grew up in the culture; they didn’t need a cross-cultural course. I suppose it would be true, if they were going to serve exactly in the same place of their parents, among the same people they grew up with. IF, however, they dared to serve among a different geographical, ethnic, socio-economic or age group, they would need to learn the importance of cross-cultural studies. As I gave my presentation a few actually caught on and the lights of cultural understanding started to flicker.

Tomorrow I get on a train, travel 24 hours to a remote part of the country to teach nationals on how to communicate the Gospel in a culturally relevant way. My job is unique; few can do it. I truly have job satisfaction. I love my job.