I’ve been on a bit of an adventure this past year, leaving a season of transition and uncertainty to entering a new role that involved discernment and discovery. Just like any pastor starting out with a new congregation, I have been discovering the history and heritage of intercultural missions in the FMCiC, and I have been discerning with the IET our present and future responsibilities and plans. All of which is an experience of learning, learning how things have been done, learning who people are and what they expect, learning about our shared hopes and dreams for the future, and all the while, learning about myself.
For some of us, when we’re told we have to “learn” something or that what we’re about to do involves a “learning curve,” we resist or react negatively because it just means more work and more time, which is understandable since we’re not often looking to add more things to our plate. But the truth is, learning takes time, a great deal of time. A new direction, a new vocabulary, a new culture and way of doing things, it all requires a commitment of time because it requires less of what we already know and more of what we need to know.
You see, learning involves humility. Learning invites vulnerability. Learning asks us to be confident about where we lack confidence, and when we do that we open ourselves up, not just to new knowledge, but to new relationships. When we open ourselves up to learning, we’re opening ourselves up to others, or better yet – – to the other. To those who are far removed from anything that is familiar to us. When we’re willing to take the time to learn, we are taking the time to humble ourselves and open ourselves up to the experience, the story, and to the hopes and dreams of another; or as the Apostle Paul puts it:
“Embrace true humility, and lift your heads to extend love to others. Get beyond yourselves and protecting your own interests; be sincere, and secure your neighbors’ interests first.” Philippians 2:3-4 (The Voice Translation)
I think you’ll agree with me that, when it comes to securing our neighbours’ interests first, we’ve got a lot of learning to do. Which is why, for the Intercultural Engagement Team, we’ve started putting a #Value on Education and Empathy, because we know that these are the values of Free Methodism, but more importantly, these are the values of Jesus Christ.
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Intercultural Engagement Team Leader