A Review, By Jesse Brown
Mary Lederleitner started her professional career as a CPA being employed with the IRS. Following this work, Mary graduated with a master’s degree in intercultural studies (Lederleitner, 2010). Mary is currently working on her Ph.D. in educational studies, while focusing on best practices related to cross-cultural ministry partnerships (InterVarsity, 2016). She has traveled extensively overseas being called to assist numerous intercultural organizations for consultation with financial practices. Presently, Mary is employed by Wycliffe International, an organization that focuses on translating the bible in communities throughout the world (Wycliff, 2016). Mary’s broad intercultural finance and ministry backgrounds are thoroughly beneficial in recommending strategies for strengthening cross-cultural relationships.
In confronting cross-cultural partnerships full of bias assumptions and often paternalistic behavior, partners should use theological biblical understandings of love and grace in transforming our partnering relationships, becoming the people God intends us to be.
Analyzing the different elements of culture and the worldviews they nurture is essential in understanding partnering relationships. “Core Cultural Concepts” explains how cultures vary greatly in concepts like community status, high and low context communication and individualistic or collectivistic worldviews.1 Becoming aware of these differences produces a higher cultural IQ and can strengthen relationships.2
Helpful practices such as the concept of neutral designation for judging the motives behind decisions is beneficial in evaluating unresolved conflicts. This practice gives time to evaluate misunderstandings between partners, so our worldview doesn’t falsely attribute negative motivations to difficult situations.3 Paternalism, also has negative consequences such as duplicating strategies between cultures disregarding cultural contexts. This may pass on paternalism from partner to partner where behaviors of superiority and dependency are cultivated.4 Accountability for decisions should also be contextualized, because there are often “wiser and better” local solutions to problems.5 Many questions should be asked about local practices and partners should work as a bridge to attain the resources they need to satisfy donors, while not destroying the ministry relationships they are trying to build. The final section introduced “Redeeming Conflicts” when issues like fraud arise.6 This section emphasized knowing partners well enough to know their weaknesses, while stressing the importance of being patient and offering love and grace while working through difficult situations like misappropriated funds and fraud.7
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Mary Lederleitner’s work, Cross-Cultural Partnerships. The core intercultural differences presented, followed up by common mistakes made in intercultural relationships were sections I relate to through personal experience. Having many incorrect presuppositions about other cultures communication and conflict resolution styles has led to unintended broken relationships in my past. This work is very helpful in preventing these problems from happening moving forward. The personal stories and testimonies of missionaries and receiving partners are experiences I look forward to learning from. A resource that is helpful and I look forward recommending and using is Appendix B, a guide for starting a dialogue with partners to create an environment of fiscal responsibility in relationships.8 I would recommend this book for all ministry relationships, because it connects different perspectives and interpretations from scripture that helps demonstrate differences in worldview, presenting multiple applications to promote healthy and reconcile disenchanted partnerships. Most importantly, this book demonstrates how to give patience, love and grace to others. Which is the same patience, love and grace that God has given us and is essential in maintaining lifelong partnerships.
In fostering healthy partnerships the author recommended third parties to act as consultants or intermediaries offering advice in strenuous situations. In these situations I would ask the author what advice she may offer if the third party had incriminating or damaging information confidingly shared to them and was asked to keep it confidential? What process would she go through to administer a justified result if this particular information was damaging to either party? How would she talk through it? Would there be any circumstance when she may have to break confidentiality and share this information?
1Lederleitner. Cross-Cultural Partnerships (Page, 49)
2Lederleitner. Cross-Cultural Partnerships (Page, 66)
3Lederleitner. Cross-Cultural Partnerships (Page, 71)
4Lederleitner. Cross-Cultural Partnerships (Page, 92)
5Lederleitner. Cross-Cultural Partnerships (Page, 144)
6Lederleitner. Cross-Cultural Partnerships (Page, 170)
7Lederleitner. Cross-Cultural Partnerships (Page, 188)
8Lederleitner. Cross-Cultural Partnerships (Page, 198)
Lederleitner, Mary T. Cross-cultural Partnerships: Navigating the Complexities of Money and Mission. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2010.
“Mary T. Lederleitner – InterVarsity Press.” Mary T. Lederleitner – InterVarsity Press. Accessed March 11, 2016. https://www.ivpress.com/cgi-ivpress/author.pl/author_id=6442.
“Mission, Vision and Values of Wycliffe Global Alliance.” Mission, Vision & Values. Accessed March 11, 2016. https://www.wycliffe.net/en/about-us/mission-vision-values.