Keeping with the three hurdles my coachee gave me, today we’ll explore the language hurdle. South Africa may be the best place to understand this reality. Officially, there are 11 languages that the government recognizes as the nations’ language(s). That alone can be intense, but there are WAY more languages spoken here than 11. In our neighborhood alone, I could add two or three more with the increasing refugee population.
What is interesting is that English, the language of the colonizers, is becoming the language of unity. Almost everyone speaks English, but what is really difficult are the accents and tones. I have been told that I have a tendency to speak firmly. That presents a sort of power-over tone. I exemplify power over those I speak to, usually unintentionally. It feels intense and can limit my abilities to enter into real meaningful relationship with anyone.
If we want to bridge gaps with people of different cultures we have to pay attention to how we speak. How will they receive us? How will they understand my choice of words, my tones or postures?
Sounds tedious. I suppose staying inside our own cultures would be easier. But that’s not realistic and really isn’t the picture we have of the kingdom of God. Every knee bowing and worshiping together? Yeah, we need to figure out how to communicate with one another more lovingly.