A few years ago, while at APU, I was asked me to address a group of students on the topic of cross-cultural leadership. I believe that the message God lay on my heart for that evening is something I aspire to do with my life. That is, to be a cross-cultural leader (or to live cross-culturally, for that matter), ultimately means to lead (or live) in the culture of the cross.
What does that mean? To me, it means that I need to live and lead in the ways Jesus did. The bar is high, and I sometimes dive way under the bar. But my goal is still -- and always will be -- to live and lead like Jesus.
From the moment he was conceived, Jesus challenged culture. Mary was supposed to be cast out of their community for being an unmarried, pregnant woman. But she had Joseph, and Joseph was willing to stand up for her because he came to realize that it truly was a work of God. Oh, how we need more men like Joseph! Because Joseph was willing to stick his neck out and do something counter-cultural, our Messiah could indeed be born a Jew.
Jesus knew when to play by the rules of the culture (like having discussions with the men at the synagogue), but he also offended culturally (by taking to the Samaritan woman, by healing on the Sabbath, by speaking up against culturally accepted practices, by paying attention to children, by befriending women, by serving his followers through washing their feet, by befriending those who were rejected by others.)
But cross-cultural living also means following Jesus' example in other areas: having boundaries by stepping away to be refreshed and spending time at His Father's feet in prayer, caring about the poor, speaking to the culture through his stories, and to live with a profoundly deep joy that drew crowds.
I so want to make it my goal to live in the way Jesus did.
Show me today, Lord, what it means to live, to serve, and to lead in the culture of your cross.