Confucius believed that through self-cultivation, one can mold one's character because it is plastic and malleable. Virtue does not come from one's natural ability or innate capacity, but from one's single-minded effort and disciplined practice. Work is therefore not an expression of an individual's own passions and values, but of one's persistent dedication to loving one's family and community.
Unlike Americans, who value egalitarian relationships, the Chinese recognize the hierarchical nature of relationships that have uneven power dynamics. Since it is easy for those with power to become paternalistic or patronizing when they serve others, we must learn Christ's humility and self-emptying. As we fill our different roles, we need to fulfill our responsibilities with love and a humbleness to serve. This Chinese understanding of humility serves as a helpful counterbalance to American approaches to urban ministry and development. As guests in any community, we need to approach our neighbors empty of expectations and plans. Instead, we must become reliant on the people of peace whom God sends out. When doing ministry, our joy and strength cannot be based on our own success or power. We receive these gifts only when being guests of the King and recognizing our limitations while in exile.
Seeing their parents' struggles, Asian American children tend to feel very obligated and motivated to live up to their parents' expectations. I think that's also why Asian American second-generation Christians can be so fervent in their faith. They understand God's sacrifice in deep, personal ways because they have family models of this self-giving.