Friday, February 17, 2012

When Helping Hurts...The world's view of time

We are very time conscious in America. Efficiency, timeliness, and getting a lot done is how we do it. After all, time is money. Now I'm a firm believer in a great work ethic, but when our views of time cross into other cultures, a major collision occurs. That's because most other countries look at time very differently.

Americans tend to have a monochronic view of time and see it as a limited and valuable resource. The majority of the world has a polychronic view of time and sees it as somewhat unlimited. "There will always be more time" is most people's view of time. These two views are explained in detail in the book When Helping Hurts.

Monochronic people are kind of "get 'er done" types. Polychronic people focus more on relationships and will get it done when they get around to it. That's why most of the world has "Fiji Time", or "Mexico Time", or "Tobago Time." They don't really watch the clock. They care way more about relationships!

Now...how does this play itself out on a mission trip. Let's use our church's 3 day house build trip this weekend. It would be very easy to put our heads down, work like crazy people, and BUILD THAT HOUSE! But a big price could be paid if we do it that way. We could miss out on the relationship with the single mom and her two kids who we're building the house for. We could miss the larger picture... that we are partnering with the local church in Mexico to build this house. We could miss building relationships with people on the house building team. Worse yet, we could miss seeing God through the eyes of the poor that he loves so dearly.

So, although I want to build a house this weekend for Martha, Daniela, and Alexa, I vow to do my best to take it all in. That might require me putting down my hammer or camera, but I don't want to miss all God is doing this weekend! I'll be a little more flexible and enjoy Mexico time. I'm going to make some new friends!

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