A new year often comes with the promise of new resolutions, things we want to change, or lessons we learnt and want to take with us into the new year.
One of the biggest lessons most of us learnt in 2020, whether we wanted to or not, was to adapt. And that learning curve was steep. And in many ways, it has still not ended. Every day we find ourselves having to change our usual ways of doing things and readapt them to the ‘new normal’ around us. Our plans change. And keep changing. Even the language we use on a daily basis has had to adapt. Our vocab has expanded. And for some of us around the world, these changes aren’t a once-off thing or a season but have become part of our everyday lives.
This lesson of being adaptable, ready to change and go with the flow, is a major part of cross-cultural training. As workers prepare to go serve in another culture, the term ‘adaptability’ is drilled into you from every workshop, devotional and training manual.
From the experiences of the many cross-cultural workers and missionaries who have gone before, we can learn two things:
One, learning to be adaptable isn’t a one-step process you can read about in a book and have achieved in one day. It takes many weeks, months, and even years in some cases to learn to adjust to the new around you. This process of learning to adapt needs to be learnt in so many facets of mission: language, culture, religion, beliefs, team dynamics and personal aspects.
And two, learning to be adaptable in mission isn’t always easy. It is a journey of highs and lows as you navigate through a new language, culture and way of life. It’s a series of learning, being humbled and celebrating small wins as you begin to adjust. It is in this that the Holy Spirit is able to soften our hearts to learn and be teachable.
As you approach mission this year, how might you be adaptable?