Are you close friends with someone who is significantly different?
As a PhD student studying inclusive leadership,* I’m exploring how leaders effectively assemble a diverse team of people and then ensure their different perspectives are included and valued.
I’m curious to know…
- How can a team of missionaries from different parts of the globe effectively work together to reach others for Christ?
- How can the actions of the head of an NGO communicate that the locals are real contributing partners whose opinions matter?
- How can a pastor lead a church towards including people from many different ethnicities and walks of life?
As a Christian, I see this way of valuing and including human variety as something grounded in Scripture. In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul talks about the unity and diversity of the Body of Christ. After reminding the Corinthian church that many different people together make up the Body of Christ, he chastises them for being jealous of others or dismissing someone else’s contribution. Each person’s unique giftings, culture, gender, personality, and background all add something to a group that no one else can.
I suspect if I stopped writing at this point, most Christians would walk away nodding their heads, “Yes! Each of us is a unique creation of God and is important for the healthy functioning of the community.”
If only it were that simple.
Just turn on the news, peruse Facebook, read some Twitter posts. I’m sure you see where I’m going with this. There aren’t a lot of places where we can witness healthy dialogue around God-given differences. In today’s ever-increasingly connected world, clarity on how diversity can be generative is still often elusive. Even in the church.
It has become a cliché that the most segregated …