It is horrible to even admit, but when my bosses told me that part of my responsibility in the next year is to nationalise my own position (meaning training a Cambodian national to fill my place thereby making myself redundant), I got mad.
And scared. And anxious.
I think part of my reaction is normal. I love what I do. I love writing and communicating and networking for an NGO that is involved in a field I’m passionate about. I love living and working in Cambodia. The thought of giving that up – even for such a good cause – is painful. And it is a good cause. Localisation means that Cambodians take on new roles and leadership in organisations across the country. It means expats don’t keep holding positions that nationals could (and should) be doing. And well…nationalising is good community development practice.
But you know, I can write all of this down. I can say it out loud as much as I want, but it’s still hard. And that makes me wonder about myself.
Why when I first heard that did I get mad? Why was my first inclination to grasp even harder and cling to this thing that I love?
I’ve had to really thinking about why I’m in Cambodia in the first place. Is it because I love this country and the people in it and want to see them grow and succeed and make this country their own? Is it because I want to be a part of sharing the knowledge and passion I do have with a new generation of local leaders?
Or is it because it’s 30 degrees year round (a heck of a lot better than subzero temperatures for 5 months of year), central enough to jet set around Asia, and cheap enough to live like a queen?
It’s also made me confront some of my own ethnocentrism. Do I really believe that God has created people equal? Or has my upbringing and my education made me a slave to a really deep hidden racism: white people know best – about everything even in a country that’s not our own.
The leader’s job is to equip.
That’s what Harvey Carey said during his speal at the 2009 Willowcreek Leadership Summit.
And I’m seeing that part of equipping means letting go. Am I ready to take a hit (at the end of this all, I’ll be out of my job) so that a Cambodian can take on new responsibility?
Well, ready or not, I’m going to have to. And God give me the grace and the love to do this well.