Why on earth would anyone in their right mind title their post about offending someone? It’s because what you see below might not go with your theology or world view. I hope it gets you to a point of asking yourself ‘why do I believe what I believe and why do I do what I do?’
1. I try to never to call myself a missionary
The only exception is when I’m getting ripped off by a local and I say “Look I don’t work for the UN, I’m just an Australian missionary” then they understand that I really don’t have much. As far as I am concerned I’m an ‘international development worker’. I believe everyone of the Christian faith is a missionary. One of the best things I learned under our pastor from Sydney is that we are to be ministers in the marketplace. We are all ‘sent out for a purpose’. Sure it might not be behind a pulpit, it may to be a business person, parent, police officer or office worker. It’s about being the salt and light to the world. It doesn’t matter if I’m hanging with some high member of government or a mama in a slum. We are all in need of a relationship with Jesus. I cringe when people say ‘Oh, you’re a missionary’. It reminds me of the long skirted, bi-spectacled, bun wearing elderly nun that people have in their minds. Me, I wear tight jeans, a lot of black and even sometimes listen to rap music (cue Toby Mac).
2. Lying is still lying
People call it a ‘white lie’, ‘making it easier to go down’ or ‘that’s the culture of the place’. If it’s not the truth, it’s a lie. If you say you’re going to do it, then do it. I learned this the hard way a very long time ago. Their was a friend who when I said I must come for a visit replied ‘you always say that but it never happens’. She was right and I felt gutted. I don’t care what country you’re in, if you say ‘yes’ then let it mean yes. Sure, theres cultural things like turning up on time, which can be relevant SEE HERE but let’s get honest about honesty.
3. I refuse to think small or backwards
I’ve lived a lot of my life with feelings of insignificance and not in a small way either. I remember when I was much younger in the early days of marriage. Pete and I would go to pastors conferences and I was so overwhelmed by insecurity that I would say to him “Don’t you dare let go of my hand”, simply because I didn’t know anyone. Sure, getting up in front of hundreds of people was no problem, but in a one on one situation I was so uncomfortable. Mind you, walking into a pub was so foreign to me and I felt so uncomfortable that I couldn’t wait to get out of there. While I still abhor pubs (with the stench of beer which I hate) I am now very comfortable meeting total strangers. I would hate to go backwards and to what I was.
I also despise thinking small. I’m always trying to find more innovative ways of doing things. It makes people who’ve ‘always done it this way’ very uncomfortable.
To do the same thing over and over and expect a different result is a sign of insanity (Albert Einstein).
In the words of the Matrix ‘there is no box’.
Instead of limiting ourselves by our personal skills, resources and money, why don’t we think like God and ‘do it anyway’. Quite frankly, there will always be people who are better than you, have more degrees than you and way more money. So what? Does that mean we sit in a corner sucking our thumbs and going ‘woe is me’. Forget what you don’t have and look at what you do have.
I have enough regrets in my life, I’m trying to add as few as possible to that list.
4. I’m not the handbag type
Someone in the office asked me the other day if I actually owned a handbag. You might think that was a random question, but a valid one. That’s because I normally have an orange bag made by Jeep, one that slings over your shoulder. It is really handy because it has some good hidden pockets (much needed in Kenya), is washable and I can wear it over my shoulder and in the front of me. I originally bought it for our 2011 trip to Africa. It has been my constant companion wherever I go.
A close friend of mine, Ros told me once that I had the ‘classic look’. I’m not into flowery dresses but plain colours, wear Converse more than heels and shock the office staff when I wear dangly earrings. Sure, I can dress up with the best of them when I have to but mostly wear jeans and a hoody, simply because it’s comfortable. Right now I’m sitting in an office with my feet up on a drawer with my headphones on. There’s no rhyme or reason, just that it’s good for working in.
What it comes down to is be who you are created to be. Stop trying to be a people pleaser. You can only please some of the people some of the time.
5. I believe in an even playing field
Out of everything written this is probably the one that will offend people the most. I don’t care what colour, gender, age, nationality, tribe or at what income level someone is. We all label people. In Australia you would say ‘You can’t trust a P plater’, that was someone on a provisional driving license. Here, it is said “That’s because they’re a (fill in the tribe)”. Sure, certain ethnicities exhibit predominant behaviours, but why do we label a whole people group with the same paintbrush? There’s a generation gap because we formed it. There are divisions, racial hatred and animosity between rich and poor. I’ve had the privilege of sitting with a homeless person in Sydney right in Martin Place and ask them their story. Sure it was great to buy them some sandwiches and drink, but it was more important to sit and just talk with them. I’ve also had a cup of tea at the Governor General’s house in Kirribilli. It makes no difference to me if I’m working with locals in Hawaii or Kenya. I don’t distrust someone because of their skin colour or the language they speak. Over the past 8 months I’ve met some incredible people and others I wouldn’t trust as far as I could throw them. And there are lots of different nationalities here.
At the end of the day we all bleed red.