Tau diri is a common term used in the Indonesian culture (usually by an older person to a younger person) as a reminder to "know your place". What does that mean exactly? It means:
Don’t speak out unless you are told to do so.
Respect elderly people and heed their advice; don't talk as if you know better.
As an employee, never outshine your superiors.
If you are the 2nd or 3rd born in your family, accept that most of the leadership roles will fall under your oldest sibling.
Tau diri. Know your place.
It is a phrase that is often times belittling, oppressive, and negative. It is usually used when scolding someone, that someone being of lower status, age, rights, and/or gender(women are still seen as “less” in this country).
A friend once told me that because her parents repeatedly told her to "tau diri," her insecurities grew. She expected less from herself. She didn’t want to stand out or speak up. To her,Tau diri meant keeping quiet and always nodding along in order to be the "proper person". It prevented her from seeing herself the way God sees her.
I challenge us to see this term "tau diri" in a different light. Yes, tau diri means know your place. But let’s try and see this with a positive perspective - know your place, as a child of God. Know your place as an ambassador of Christ. Know your place as someone that has been saved by the loving grace of God.
I agree that it is important for us to "know our place" with regards to our family, work position, and age. It is always good to have a humble heart and attitude. However, humble does not mean one is weak or less than others. We should know that God has placed us in this family, this country, this culture, this group of friends, and this company, all for a reason...know your place. Know your place as a child of God. A child that is loved, cherished, and saved. We do not need to look for fame or position to be secure because God is our security.
With this “new” definition, I want to challenge all of us to Tau Diri from a kingdom perspective, God’s eyes. Know your place as a child of God. A child that has been given a mission and vision for the people around you.
Grace Liu, Jakarta City Director