Why Appointments Might Only Be For White People
When was the last time you went an entire week on campus without a student canceling an appointment with you?
Devin and I were talking about this last semester and came up with a possible solution: maybe appointments are just for white people.
Dr. Sherwood Lingenfelter shares in his book, Ministering Cross-Culturally, that Anglos and Hispanics view time in fundamentally different ways. Anglo culture tends to be more time oriented. The clock rules our day. Time is a commodity that we can spend or save. We say, “Time is money”. Latinos tend to be more event or people oriented. A relationship is more important than a clock. Its part of why their definition of “being late” is different from a Caucasian. The differences between the two cultures can be summed up in a quote I heard from some Cru leaders overseas:
You [Anglo] Americans have so many clocks but never any time. We have so few clocks but all the time in the world.
As two white guys ourselves we were spending a lot of time each week trying to schedule appointments with our student leaders. Trying to have Latino students operate with our sense of time just wasn’t working out. Some would be late, others would forget, many would have more pressing matters cause them to cancel on us.
Our solution: let’s stop making appointments. Let’s start to schedule large chunks of our day as available time to be on campus. We’d go to the library or the cafeteria and just see who we ran into. We’d text a student that we wanted to meet with to see where they were. We’d just start living life like a student, more spontaneous, less planned. In the back of our minds we have discipleship topics to cover, but it would be less formal and more life-on-life.
So will it work out? We don’t know, but Devin is giving it a shot this semester. I think it’s the right move. We’ll probably look back in a few years and wonder why we ever did it any differently.
photo courtesy: wagg66