Living with friends in a foreign land.
Due to various circumstances and the nature of my work, I found myself leading a team of four (myself included) into Portugal to share the gospel with the Portuguese. It's something I've never done and which seemed daunting at first, but I would seriously considering doing it again.
As a bunch of completely unrelated people who were initially acquaintances, with only the church and our belief in Christ as our common ground, it has been quite the learning curve. Today, I thought I would give you three practical insights on some of the things I've learnt throughout my journey with these friends whom I now call family. Aww.
1. Recognise you're all different. And lower your expectations.
This seems like something incredibly obvious, but somehow even though we know it in our heads, it doesn't quite translate into practice. I've caught myself imposing my thoughts, methods and my general way of life on others many times. "He ought to...", "she should...", etc. really shouldn't feature in our interactions. All of us are made differently and have completely different upbringing and experiences. What is important to one may not be for another. Seek to understand rather than insist on your own way. It is all about give and take unless it is a matter of biblical principle.
The friends with me aren't just people who hang out together and have different jobs. We all have the same goal. Sometimes, you need to die to self (i.e. sacrifice your personal preferences) for the sake of the goal or for peace. And yeah, don't sweat the small stuff. There are more important things in life than arguing about whether the toilet seat is up or down. Seriously.
2. Hang out even when you don't have to. And communicate.
By the nature of our work, we're (for the most part) forced to endure one another's company. It's not as painful as that by any means - at least not all the time - but I can't imagine not having some chill time out with one another. It builds bonds. It reminds people that they matter beyond the work they can do for you. Your worth isn't tied to your work! You are valuable regardless. Yes, we're all different and it's hard finding some kind of activity in which we're all interested in, but that's where flexibility and being able to accommodate one another comes in.
I don't generally hang out with everyone in a large group unless we have something we really want to do together (hello Euro 2016!). Otherwise, I'll hang out with the girls on occasion or with the dude. I relate with each one of them differently and it is very interesting to get to know people on a deeper level. Once you're at that level of comfort, you've got a platform to address different issues. Don't keep resentment. It isn't productive and soon turns into a festering wound which is far worse to deal with than a minor graze.
3. Be humble. You can learn something from everybody.
Never assume you know everything. And never look down on someone thinking that they can't contribute to your life in some way. We all can learn something from one another. I learnt a ton of facts from the dude, counselling methods from another and cooking from yet another. Learning from one another serves to enrich our lives by increasing our experiences and knowledge through another person. It allows us to hear different perspectives and gives us an outward approach to life. I love learning. I can't stop. That helps me to keep on my toes. When you esteem others better than yourself, you're a much better person to live with. Trust me on this.
So that's it. I hope you took away something from those three simple thoughts. Leave your questions in the comment section below if you have any.