WIM senior missionaries were recently asked the question, “From the perspective gained during your time on the field, what additional study materials or preparation would you like to have received during your training?” One answer repeatedly surfaced. The single most-frequent response revealed a desire for greater understanding of how to live and work cross-culturally. With a goal of addressing this need, for the past several years WIM’s required reading for new missionaries includes the book, Cross-Cultural Servanthood, by Duane Elmer, among others.
Concerning this book, missionary Chad Pennington says, “This book does a great job of highlighting Biblical principles of leadership and how to apply those principles to missions and cross-cultural ministry.” He reiterates that, if we endeavor to lead in the way Jesus led, we must be serving others. As cross-cultural ministers of the Gospel, we must intentionally remain humble and teachable, ever learning from the people we are called to serve. Our attempts to minister to people of a different culture are problematic, if we fail to dedicate the time necessary to learn well the culture and its values. We must remember that we have much to learn, and God is able to teach us and shape us into His perfect will, even through the culture we are called to serve.
Missionaries and other people in ministry must always be purposeful in seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit, “to ensure that we are leading in a way that honors Christ and serves those who look to us for direction.” In the end, if the people to whom we are called to minister view us as leaders, hopefully it is because we have modeled servanthood, just as Jesus did. Serving as Jesus did will demonstrate how to serve, in practical terms—for the benefit of those who would follow our example.
If you have not yet read this book, I would encourage you to put it on your short-list of books to read.