As a missionary, it is a humbling thing many times for me to realize that I may be a spiritual leader to many people, but I do not have every answer. In many circumstances I would be wise to heed to advice from men and others in the church.
I work in Argentina and love Argentina as well as the people, but I have not learned everything about the culture. It almost is hard for me to say, but I am not Argentine. In those words, I believe it means that I should ask for simple advice before I make little decisions in the church. Of course I will make the decisions about what to preach, who leads, etc, but on cultural items, I should ask for opinions.
Just recently I made a church directory. Thinking that everyone would be happy and comparing my great idea to churches in the U.S., I grabbed the idea and ran with it. Come to find out, I upset a good number of people because, “we don’t want other people to have our personal information”. What …. I thought it was a great idea, but the American side of me was thinking and I acted without getting advice on what the Argentine culture does. I have done this mistake time over time, … and every time I look like an idiot.
My advice to my own self, and especially to anyone who does not want to make this mistake, is don’t be too proud to ask questions. One of the best things I learned from my spiritual father as a new missionary, was that I need to ask questions or I will never learn. I now don’t fear many times to ask questions although I may look silly, but I know that if I want to better myself and grow, I need to ask questions.
In I Timothy 5:1-2, Paul tells Timothy (the young new preacher) how to treat the people – the older men as fathers, the younger men as brothers, the older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters. I personally believe that he is instructing him not to be a young, “know-it-all” preacher, rather how to respect the older as well as the younger people. It is easy to say, “God has called me”, but just because God has called or lead me does not mean that I know everything. To be very honest, we have many older and more mature people in our church than myself and I am sure that at times they want to help, but for respect don’t say anything. I should be mature enough to ask for help … and especially when it is cultural.
May we as missionaries all be wise enough to ask for help and not proud enough to think we know it all. Asking questions is a smart thing to do!