Monday, June 20, 2005

Relationally- versus Goal-driven Cultures

So, an ongoing conversation this trip has been the differences in relationally-driven cultures (like here in Thailand) and goal-driven cultures (like in the States).

The conversation perhaps began last week when we felt like we weren't doing enough to qualify us being here. It's hard to feel like you have made a difference when you haven't accomplished that many goals.

We began to notice rather quickly that the Thai people were grateful that we were here, not just to do things, but to simply be with them. Do you see what I mean?

Had an interesting conversation with Phil (a neighbor down the street who has been in and out of Thailand with his family for over 15 years doing compassion work and church-planting) this afternoon about how so many short-term mission trips are so goal-oriented that to just sit and be with people for days at a time can feel a bit like a waste of a trip...especially when you've only a few days to work.

But we are seeing that what this culture appreciates more than anything seems to be spending quality time together...hanging out after services, joining each other for meals, etc. I could go on, but I am just beginning to have this conversation in my head, so best not to talk too soon.

But it has got me thinking a great deal about how we qualify things back home: numbers, projects, services as opposed to relationships, relationships, relationships. And of course there is a caution to overly-relational dynamics, that is, that they might turn so inward as to forget the world outside. But if a community is truly relational then it will embrace various types of relationships, both inside and outside of their immediate sphere(s).

1 comment:

Sled Dog said...

I've pondered the same thing you've posted about. So often when I return from international mission trips, I come home bummed that life in the USA is so cold and robotic.

Some of the richest times of my life have been in areas that, from American standards, aren't worth a second look, but are filled with fantastic people. One of my greatest joys has been bringing others along with me and watching God melt their hearts.