How do you deal with cultural differences!!? I'm having a real hard time settling into the American culture, which I guess explains why Monica and I have had to work so hard with it in our marriage. She's American, I'm Aussie, and we frequently communicate on different wavelengths. Not to say that's unusual in marriage, but it feels at times more amplified in ours, we simply just don't "get" each other sometimes! I talk and she just looks at me as though I've spoken in a foreign language, and vice-versa (so I guess it's not always English to me!!). Over time though, things get better. But in a work situation (and especially in a pastoral position) you don't have the time to iron out the cultural differences with everyone. And that can make your job real difficult!
If we spoke a different language (and I can hear some of you say we do!), or looked dramatically different (and I won't get into that one!), I think people would be more sensitive to the culture. But the more subtle the differences, the greater the chance of misunderstanding, and the greater the chance of cultural assumptions. It doesn't help here in America when most people first think of the Croc Hunter when it comes to Aussies! But that's not a bad analogy, mainly because Steve Irwin spent most of his life being misunderstood!
...And church culture in general doesn't help, it relies more heavily on gossip (sometimes hidden under the guise of perception, as though the word "perception" gives people the right to talk about you and not to you!), and less on seeking to understand (much like the tabloids did with Steve). It's difficult to grasp at times but it can be a really lonely affair being different and it's something we as Christians are not doing a good job dealing with.
So how do you deal with cultural differences?