Article Review

Doss, Cheryl D. “Cross-Cultural Servanthood: Serving the World in Christlike Humility [review]/Elmer, Duane.” Journal of Applied Christian Leadership 3, no. 2 (2009): 63-66.


Elmer offers practical advice to Christians about service other cultures with great humility and sensitivity. Through careful biblical exposition as well as essential cross-cultural awareness, Elmer shows how an individual’s attitude and action offend and contradict the local culture. Elmer’s broad topic in this book was about servanthood and, more specifically, serving others. The book is divided into three sections, which include the fundamental standpoint on servanthood, the principles in servanthood, and the major challenge in servanthood.[1] The book is filled with information, models, and advice on how to better serve other people. One of the main concerns that have reoccurred in the book is that servant spirit is not considered by those they are working as an attitude of superiority.

Elmer tries to get the readers to understand that humility is essential while serving other people. He adds that a person that wishes to serve in culture needs to strive to understand and educate themselves about the people they are trying to help. The servanthood model is the central theme in this book, which includes acceptance, openness, learning, trust, understanding, and serving. The servanthood model shows how people need to have adequate knowledge about the people that they serve.

Content Analysis

Elmer emphasizes cross-cultural servanthood stressing on the need to follow the example that Jesus set as a servant for all and not the lord of all. The book argues that one does not become a servant leader by calling himself but by practicing openness to people of a different culture, learning from them, establishing trust with them to have an effective understanding with them, and effectively serve them. This book offers great insights into issues on cross-cultural ministry and how to prevent such issues. Concerning cross-cultural servanthood, it is clear that the intention to serve people in other cultures is not easy.

Cross-cultural servanthood is a genuinely challenging book for Christian leaders. It seeks openness towards the people, accepts them the way they are, and builds trust with them as a way of revealing Christ to others. Christians are required to carry themselves without an attitude of superiority into other cultures.[2] Ideally, it could be argued that since Christians are expected to carry themselves in a way that reflects Christ’s ways of living. Duane Elmer tries to show that cross-cultural servanthood is a complex process. Often, the cross-cultural workers intending to service display actions and attitudes that oppose Elmer’s servanthood perspectives. Elmer argues that the practice of servanthood starts with an openness, which means the capability of offering oneself to others in a culturally appropriate manner.

Elmer argues the servant leaders don’t need to learn the correct context of those they are serving or where they are serving. For instance, when an individual is going to serve in a different culture, it is more effective to come the way they are and present at the moment rather than acting like someone else. In chapter 10, Elmer brings back the servanthood model which shows the acceptance of the model by the westerners who acknowledged that the model is good and addresses their issues that the westerners need to hear from the servants in their culture.[3] Considerably, this is clear that it is easier for a person to start by learning from others and moving up to help others with openness and trust. Through this, it is easier to continue serving the people.

Reflection and Application

Elmer’s book has discussed how perceptions and attitudes can become a stumbling block in the cross-cultural work of Christians. For instance, culture can lead to an unintended clash between the servant leaders and the people they serve. Ideally, most of the missionaries are prepared for their work, which is to spread the gospel, but their relational techniques and skills present barriers to serving the people effectively. Adjustment factors and relationship factors are one of the greatest factors that influence the cross-cultural work of Christians while helping others. For instance, the book discusses how the unintended perceptions and attitudes of the western missionary have often caused damage during the servanthood.

The book has entirely focused on Biblical background and Christian themes. The central theme of the book is serving, which is significantly emphasized in the Bible. Christians today should remember being like Christ involves serving others even when one thinks that they should be served. The book offers great insights on the topic that most Christians in the cross-cultural work are simply ignorant of. They simply assume that they are doing Christ’s work and understand what is best for the least and lost.[4] They believe that the religious and cultural traditions held so tightly are the only right way of doing things. Therefore, they show less respect for other cultures and traditions, which creates great offense in cross-cultural work.

Relatively, the book teaches to serve others even when they don’t look the same, dress the same or act the same as you. The book also teaches the importance of humility in the cross-cultural work of Christians. With the strength and constant help of Christ, Christians wishing to help others and serving in other cultures can do so easily by following Christ’s life and utilizing information offered about cross-cultural servanthood.




Doss, Cheryl D. “Cross-Cultural Servanthood: Serving the World in Christlike Humility [review]/Elmer, Duane.” Journal of Applied Christian Leadership 3, no. 2 (2009): 63-66

[1] Doss, Cheryl D. “Cross-Cultural Servanthood: Serving the World in Christlike Humility [review]/Elmer, Duane.” Journal of Applied Christian Leadership 3, no. 2 (2009): 63-66.

[2] Doss, Cheryl D. (2009)

[3] Doss, Cheryl D. (2009)

[4] Doss, Cheryl D. (2009).

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