The Significance of Being a Phoenix’s Tail

Jackson Wu | August 6, 2015

In China, there is a well-known idiom that says, “I’d rather be a chicken’s head than the tail of a phoenix.”

The idiom expresses a commonly held notion: It’s better to be in a position of prominence, even if in a less glamorous sphere, than in a low position within a more prestigious context. In the West, a similar saying calls it being a “big fish in a small pond.” In daily life, this sort of thinking can take many forms. Many Chinese businessmen, for example, will leave their low positions in a major company in order to take a high position in a local unknown company.

One would like to wish that pastors and missionaries would be immune to such sentiments. In fact, the sin nature needs no passport. It crosses every border.

Within the church, becoming a missionary is often regarded as one of the most selfless and sacrificial things a person can do. Of course, this can be true. Leaving family, friends, conveniences, and the ability to communicate easily are not things one forsakes lightly. On the other hand, the mission field can become a place of unchecked ambition.

Significance of Status

What happens when Westerners come to a country like China…

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