December is usually a time of personal reflection. I often spend time looking back at the lessons that past year has taught me. Last year I shared this personal reflection with a post I wrote, Lessons Learned: 13 in '13. This year's post however will be a recap of a process I believe I was able to learn in 2014.
One of the main ideas I identified this past year is the following process: Learn, Become, Apply, and Transition. Let me explain. My simplest prayer was and is to serve people. I have to do so in love and in ways that culturally are understood.
Learn - Learn a culture
Become - Become the culture
Apply - Apply faith within the culture
Transition - Move on
In order to impact any culture productively, one needs to have a good inventory of their self first. In order to gain an honest perspective of oneself, they need to reach the end of their self. This can be done by first letting go of everything they think they know about their self.
Coming to the end of myself required personal time with God. He had to expose things about myself to me and show me areas I needed to work on. The more I learned about Him and how He designed me, the more I learned how I could be used by Him. When a person knows themselves well enough in skill and also in identity (because what we do is not who we are), they have the opportunity to focus in on the impact that may possibly occur with every person they meet. When in an actual moment of interaction, a person who is well versed in self inventory frees their self from distraction of self.
To learn a culture, one must be humble, patient and aim to learn genuinely without bias about that culture before they do anything within that culture. I used to think if I were to learn a culture and take on certain traits, I was "selling out." What I mean by selling out is the idea that I am no longer being true to myself for the sake of trying to fit in. My focus was off. It was never about fitting in and it was never about me. Becoming the culture is one of the most humbling experiences one can partake in. It is not about losing oneself to the point they become a new person, but it is about knowing one’s self well enough to be a part of something bigger than them, without losing touch of who they really are as an individual. Becoming apart of a culture is being amongst, not of. It is about knowing oneself well enough to bring their attributes to a new place and be able to use their unique qualities they have in that new culture, respectfully.
To apply one's faith in a culture and show what is possible through faith can change lives. This has the potential to alter the future course of the people in proximity. To apply one’s faith by how they live and how they choose to conduct themselves can inspire people of that culture to see what the works of faith can and will produce.
Transition will come at a point when it is time to move on to a new culture.
The reason I believe I was blessed to see this process unfold this past year is because I did spend time asking God to show me how I could be used to serve others.
If you are reading this and thinking, how can I undergo this process? It starts with a desire and a discipline to be still in the midst of the business of life. It took me years to figure this out and I will continue to practice this process. It is not a comfortable process and being alone with God is a very beautiful and trying place to be. The fruits it will produce though will outweigh any of the temporary pain, isolation, depression, frustration, and anger one must go through to gain a faith based perspective for their daily living. Anyone can say the same prayer and can start today if they so choose: God, please show me how I can love and serve your people.
Talk soon & God bless,