Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Oh the humiliation!

Working in a language which you've had to learn as an adult is a humiliating experience! We've been here for 4 years now and I am still making the most basic mistakes. It is very frustrating.

I was chatting to a fellow missionary here the other day, and he was sharing his frustration at this week-in, week-out reminder of his failings. He shared that one of the things that frustrates him most is that it really threatens his ability to be useful and to be a "contributor to the team." In the end he said "I want people to like me and I want to feel like I am doing something useful - and my daily struggle with Spanish threatens that."

But he then went on to say - that is just ungodliness on his part, and it is something he needs to repent of.

I was thinking about this conversation later, and it really resonated with me. Language proficiency can be just another example of relying on our own abilities and our own talents, rather than being a jar of clay which displays that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. (2Cor 4:7) We want to fight the crushing, perplexing and despairing (2Cor 4:8) which comes from bad pronunciation and poor conjugation with an excellent fricative 'd' and a smooth use of the subjunctive.

But that's not where the apostle finds his strength in 2 Cor 4. He says

"But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you."  2Cor 4:7-12 (ESV)

I doubt whether anyone is going to kill me because I get my pronouns mixed up, but it can sure feel like  your contribution slips quickly down the "useful" rating when it happens. Our strength and our confidence needs to be in Christ, not in our abilities.

So if you are ministering in your own language, how might this be a problem for you? Where is your confidence? Or where is your lack of confidence, and how do you respond to that?

Is it in strategy - those key steps to implement? Is it in the schmickness and professionalism of style or presentation? Is it in a particular model or mode?

Wherever it is - be a jar of clay.

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