Category Archives: Culture

“To-Do List” for the Holidays . . .

To Do FinishedWe Americans love to keep schedules.  In fact, many of us keep a To-Do list and Calendar.  When I turn on my computer I first look at my Outlook Calendar in order to know the day’s tasks and projects for the coming days.  It is as though without my scheduled To-Do list and filled in Calendar I am not accomplishing anything.  Even more, it is as though I have done nothing today if I have not checked off things on my To-Do list.

However, in some cultures, people do not emphasize tasks nor are they concerned with maintaining a calendar.  Instead, they emphasize people.  Hence, a continuum exists between those people and cultures that are more people oriented versus those who are more task oriented.

Task oriented cultures value results and activities that produce results.  Whereas people oriented cultures value relationships and activities that enhance and build relationships.

Even my writing this post reveals that I come from a task oriented culture.  It is as though writing a blog post will produce some sort of result, a result of people actually reading the post.

Because building rapport is so important, people oriented cultures begin with people and finish with task.  Social relationships, therefore, form the basis on which things are accomplished.  Conversely, task oriented cultures begin with the task wanting to cause things to happen.To Do Finished

It appears that God begins with people. God came and lived among us.  Jesus Christ, Immanuel (God with us), took on the form of humanity (Philippians 2:5-9) visiting us up close.   We too should have the same attitude this Holiday season.  Maybe, our To-Do list could emphasize more people and less tasks this Holiday season.

Promises ???

So many promises!  While in route from one place to another, I glanced through the flight magazine and noticed the many advertistment promises from businesses, companies, and people.  A few of those included . . .

“Live where legends play.”

“Want to know where you stand in the bigger picture?”

“Get the royal treatment!”

“Twice as nice.”

“The essence of beauty.”

“Savor the finer things in life.”

“numerous awards and recognitions.”

“Savor the finer things in life.”

“It’s like steroids for your career.”

“Finally you can have it all.”

Promises are disguised in culture.  In other words, promises such as the one’s above are culture specific.  As such, they have different meanings dependent upon one’s cultural frame of reference.

For instance, the promise “Get the royal treatment” comes interpreted in the eyes of the receiver.  Royal treatment to one person may be average treatment while to another person it may mean treatment for only a servant. 

Promises are only as good as they are able meet the receiver’s expectations.  Miscommunication and misunderstanding occurs when one party promises something that does not meet the expectation of the other cultural party.  It appears that businesses, companies, and people should spell out the details of their promises.  Why don’t they spell out the details?

The Center . . .

Several weeks ago I was in a conference and one participant thought that American culture was superior to all other cultures.   What I saw that day was ethnocentrism — an attitude and position that assumes everything revolves around one’s particular cultural point of view — an attitude that believes that there is only way.  In a real sense, it is making one’s own way the center of the world.

Making ourself the center of the world may come in the form of the food we eat, the greetings we use, or the jokes we tell, the type of housing we believe is appropriate, etc.  When people make their way the center of the world, they judge other cultures solely in terms of their own culture. Such attitudes find expressions in feeling superior to others and labeling other people as inferior or even primitive.

I am thankful that my God did not have such an attitude and that we are given an excellent example of how we should live. The Bible says,

For, let this mind be in you that is also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal to God, but did empty himself, the form of a servant having taken, in the likeness of men having been made, and in fashion having been found as a man, he humbled himself, having become obedient unto death—death even of a cross. (Philippians 2:5-6, YLT)

That is the whole point of the Christmas season — our God, Immanuel, did not view us or anyone with an attitude of superiority, inferior, or even primitive. Instead, he became flesh and lived among us.

In this Christmas season, we can humble ourselves, not making our way the center of the world.  In what ways, could you not make your way the center of the world on behalf of others?