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Elmer Book Review – Cross-Cultural Servanthood: Serving the World in Christ-like Humility

Elmer Book Review – Cross-Cultural Servanthood: Serving the World in Christ-like Humility


“Cross-Cultural Servanthood: Serving the World in Christ-like Humility,” by Duane Elmer, delves into the profound concept of servanthood in cross-cultural engagement. The book is organized into three sections. This paper aims to summarize, analyze, and reflect on why the material presented in the book is relevant to Christian cross-cultural engagement and describe how one concept discussed in the book can be applied in my field of study and practice.


Part One, “Servanthood: Basic Perspectives,” introduces Elmer to the fundamental concepts of servanthood. He explains the difficulties and obligations of servanthood, emphasizing the choice between adopting the stance of a servant (represented by a towel) and seeking power and rank (represented by a robe). Humility is emphasized as an essential part of the servant’s character. Humility is a way of life, thinking and acting toward God, ourselves, and others[1]. Consistently, Part Two, “Servanthood: The Process,” discusses the practical procedures required in cross-cultural servanthood. Elmer addresses the significance of openness, which entails embracing individuals into one’s presence and accepting them as they are. Building trust and learning about other cultures are critical components of this process. The author also discusses the scriptural underpinnings for this dramatic change in the servant’s life. Understanding and empathizing with the perspectives of people from different cultural origins is essential for effective cross-cultural engagement. Ultimately, the purpose is to become like Christ to others via service. Lastly, in Part Three, “Servanthood: The Challenges,” Elmer delves into the intricacies that develop when servanthood collides with leadership, power relations, and the riddles of cultural differences. He utilizes Joseph’s servant model as a case study to demonstrate how these problems might be overcome in real-world circumstances.


The concept of openness, as highlighted in the book “Cross-Cultural Servanthood,” holds immense significance in cross-cultural engagement. Openness, accepting people from various cultural backgrounds into one’s presence, is critical in breaking down barriers and creating trust. Openness must be presented in culturally appropriate ways for people to feel welcomed and secure in our presence[2] . Elmer emphasizes that openness is the first step to being a cross-cultural servant. It establishes the tone for developing trust, comprehension, and effective service. The importance of openness stems from its ability to overcome cultural divides and spark meaningful interactions. Moreover, individuals from different cultures are more likely to engage in open discourse, share their opinions, and collaborate constructively when they encounter genuine openness.

Furthermore, Duane Elmer’s experience in West Africa is a compelling illustration from the book that demonstrates the need for transparency. When he first came to this unfamiliar cultural setting, the locals were skeptical, questioning his intent and presence. On the other hand, Elmer made a concerted effort to learn about the local culture, customs, and values as part of his dedication to openness. He engaged in talks, asked questions, and actively listened to the community members’ viewpoints. This openness not only broke down the initial obstacles but also increased trust and understanding between Elmer and the locals.


Since it corresponds with the essential teachings of Christianity, the content offered in Duane Elmer’s book “Cross-Cultural Servanthood” is deeply important to Christian cross-cultural involvement. The Bible emphasizes the necessity of humility, servanthood, and loving one’s neighbour on numerous occasions. For example, Galatians 5:13-14 [NRSV] says that we were called to freedom and that we should not use our freedom as an opportunity for the flesh but be servants of one another through love. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.”.[3] Elmer’s book not only repeats biblical concepts but also offers practical advice on using them in the context of cross-cultural encounters. By emphasizing values such as openness, trust, and understanding, Christians demonstrate Christ-like humility when interacting with persons from other cultural backgrounds[4]. This strategy encourages effective cross-cultural involvement and represents the biblical mandate to love and serve others regardless of cultural identification, reflecting Jesus’ teachings to love one’s neighbour as oneself.


In my field of study and practice, international diplomacy and cross-cultural negotiations, the concept of humility, as covered in Duane Elmer’s book “Cross-Cultural Servanthood,” is essential. Moreover, as stated in 1 Peter 5:5 [NRSV], we must clothe ourselves with humility in our dealings with one another, for “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. [5] Humility can be utilized in this context by respecting and valuing the viewpoints and interests of people from various cultural backgrounds. Instead of approaching discussions with arrogance or ethnocentrism, I intend to develop a humble demeanour that recognizes the intrinsic value of each party’s point of view. This is active listening, attempting to comprehend the other party’s cultural context, and demonstrating a willingness to learn and adapt. By doing so, I hope to foster an atmosphere of trust and cooperation, allowing for more effective and harmonious cross-cultural negotiations. Finally, humility is the key to bridging gaps and establishing common ground in diplomacy and international relations.

Finally, “Cross-Cultural Servanthood” by Duane Elmer provides remarkable insights into the practice of servanthood in cross-cultural circumstances. It highlights the value of openness, humility, and understanding in developing meaningful relationships and effectively serving others. These values are consistent with biblical teachings and can be implemented in Christian cross-cultural interaction and other fields, such as international diplomacy, where humility is essential for effective negotiations and cross-cultural cooperation.


Elmer, Duane. Cross-cultural Servanthood: Serving the world in Christlike humility. IVP Books, 2006.

[1] Duane Elmer, Cross-Cultural Servanthood: Serving the World in Christlike Humility (IVP Books, 2006), 27

[2] Elmer, 34

[3] Galatians 5:13-14(New Revised Standard Version)

[4] Elmer, 29

[5] 1 Peter 5:5 (NRSV)


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Elmer Book Review

Elmer Book Review

For this assignment, you will write a review of Cross-Cultural Servanthood: Serving the World in Christlike Humility by Duane Elmer. Elmer provides an in-depth discussion on the topic of servanthood in the context of cross-cultural work, sharing his own cultural missteps and lessons learned over many years of cross-cultural engagement. These concepts are presented from a Biblical worldview and can be applied to any context where one seeks to engage people who operate from a different worldview.
This paper should include the following four sections:
1. Summary: A brief summary of the main concepts discussed in the book.
2. Analysis: Show the significance of one concept discussed in the book to cross-cultural engagement. Use examples from the book.
3. Reflection: Reflect on why the material presented in the book is relevant to Christian cross-cultural engagement. Use the Bible and Elmer’s book to support your assertions.
4. Application: Describe how one concept discussed in the book can be applied in your field of study, work, and/or ministry and how you hope to incorporate that concept into your interactions with people from other cultural backgrounds.

The assignment should be written as a formal paper and should include the following elements:
• Length of Assignment: 3 pages of content
In addition to the 3 pages, the paper should include a title page and bibliography.
• Format of Assignment: Current Turabian formatting is required.
• Number of Citations: A minimum of 3 citations from the book and 2 citations from the Bible are required.
• Acceptable Sources: Cross-Cultural Servanthood: Serving the World in Christlike Humility by Duane Elmer and the Bible. Additional sources are not required for this assignment.

please use the book Cross-cultural Servanthood: Serving the World in Christlike Humility by Duane Elmer. and cite the bible as well thank you

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