Earlier this morning I caught up with one of our church planters who is currently stateside. I always enjoy getting time with this particular planter, and this morning was especially valuable as we talked through the difference in building relationships in America vs. a cross cultural setting. Here are some of my most valuable takeaways that I gleaned from our conversation:
- Americans get jacked up on schedules. In the States, if we say we’re going to meet over coffee for an hour, then by golly sixty minutes later we’re going to be in our car, or heads will roll. Our schedules are more valuable than the relationship.
- Americans rarely go the second mile. As we were sitting in Starbucks this morning, there was a guy whose car wouldn’t start. Before I knew it, Brian had offered to hang out with the guy until the tow truck arrived, and then drive him into work. I, of course, never considered that, because my schedule (see bullet point one) is so precious.
- Americans are task-driven rather than relational-driven. Again, it goes full-circle to schedules, but we tend to pursue relationships because of how they benefit us, not how they benefit others. Unless it’s about me, I’m not interested.
Driving back from the meeting, I was reminded again of why my overseas trips are typically watershed moments in my life. For ten days, my schedule is relationships. There are no e-mails to answer, no phone calls to return, no blogs to write, no office tasks to check off. It’s all about the people, and all about introducing people to the gospel. These are the questions that I asked myself when it comes to cultivating intentional relationships:
- Do I value my schedule above relationships?
- Am I intentionally creating time to grab lunch, have coffee, or otherwise do life with people?
- Am I only hanging out with churched people, or am I watching for opportunities to meet those who are far from God?
- When I do meet with people, is it about me or about them? (ouch.)
- Do I wait to meet with people until they’ve contacted me, or am I seeking people out?
What does this look like in your life? Are you approaching relationships with a gospel-centered mindset, or are people just another check box on your to do list?