Cognitive bias and misunderstandings
The missional world can be a really strange one. All of my business clients think so poorly of missions and missionaries that it is embarrassing. Most of the national pastors and national Christians I know and work with, also think so poorly of missionaries and have so many scratch-their-head moments about missional personal, that it makes me want to crawl under a rock many days. While I consistently and creatively paint other possible narratives about these people, the sad truth is that often their low opinions are warranted.
It seems that the missional world is especially afflicted with the Dunning-Kruger effect. I find myself flabbergasted and appalled at how little these recruits and soon to be "missionaries" and new arrivals are rock solid convinced that they can jump on an airplane, and take their American selves to any other place in the world and reproduce whatever in that new context. Immediately. With no actual competence. With no real honest skills. With no language learning. With no training. They are just so effing wonderful, all the world will bow to their mere presence or some other cat flossing fantasy that these people have in their very wrong and terribly screwed up heads.
They over-estimate their intelligence, their ability, their competence, their insight, their wisdom, their ideas, their importance, even their likability to the point where I want to throw up. They underestimate the need to retool, learn, study, underestimate the need for humility and gentleness, underestimate their cultural arrogance, and their ability to be fluid and flexible, their empathy and social graces. I could go on for hours. And hours.
Needless to say, few of them make it beyond their first term thank goodness. That at least puts some boundaries on the damage they can do forever on the ground. The rest of them often end up being what is currently known as "North American based missionaries" which means they live in America for the most part, travel regularly, and create havoc under the guise of do-good-ism. They never hesitate to tell me what I am doing wrong, even though I have lived here for 18 plus years and speak the language and have relational equity that they can not even see nor imagine. You just can't tell these folks anything, because they already know it all.