As Americans, one of our typical cultural characteristics, in comparison with those of other backgrounds is our entrepreneurial spirit. This can be a very good thing. I lifted the following off of the Wikipedia article on Entrepreneur...
John G. Burch [Business Horizons, September 1986] lists traits typical of entrepreneurs:
* A desire to achieve: The push to conquer problems, and give birth to a successful venture.
* Hard work: It is often suggested that many entrepreneurs are workaholics.
* Desire to work for themselves: Entrepreneurs like to work for themselves rather than working for an organization or any other individual. They may work for someone to gain the knowledge of product or service that they may want to produce.
* Nurturing quality: Willing to take charge of, and watch over a venture until it can stand alone.
* Acceptance of responsibility: Are morally, legally, and mentally accountable for their ventures. Some entrepreneurs may be driven more by altruism than by self-interest.
* Reward orientation: Desire to achieve, work hard, and take responsibility, but also with a commensurate desire to be rewarded handsomely for their efforts; rewards can be in forms other than money, such as recognition and respect.
* Optimism: Live by the philosophy that this is the best of times, and that anything is possible.
* Orientation to excellence: Often desire to achieve something outstanding that they can be proud of.
* Organization: Are good at bringing together the components (including people) of a venture.
* Profit orientation: Want to make a profit; but the profit serves primarily as a meter to gauge their success and achievement.
As international missionaries, one of the things we most frequently "bring to the table" as Americans, is our "entrepreneurial spirit." The truth is, however, when we are guests in someone else's country, and working under someone else's cultural norms, our "entrepreneurial spirit" is not always greatly appreciated. Many nationals in other countries, including some of our brothers and sisters in Christ, and ministry partners, have seen more than their share of American missionary "entrepreneurial spirit."
I am more and more convinced that, after 16 years of full-time missionary service in Spain, our "entrepreneurial spirit" as American missionaries needs to be tempered by an at least as healthy dose of "servant spirit" and "cooperative spirit." We must come as learners, both from the national believers and churches, as well as those foreign workers who have come before us. We must earn our right for our opinions to be heard and taken into account. This, especially for us as Americans, is not easy to do. I have learned this the hard way on more than one occasion. And I'm sure I will have occasion to learn this again in the future as well.