Diversity is in. It is politically correct. Businesses want people to be sensitive to it. Ministries are aching to become more diverse in their leadership. But why? Is it really that big of a deal?
As part of a Global Leadership program, I am in Colorado Springs for the next two weeks. In preparing to come, I noticed on the schedule that a good amount of time the first week here would be spent hearing from each of the people in the program as they shared their personal faith journey stories.
I’ll admit; I told many people back home, including my wife, something like this: “I’m sure these are great people in the program, but I’d rather cut all that squishy stuff, and move to the content. Heck, let’s cut the two weeks down to one.” Boy, was I wrong.
Why is it that many of us don’t hold diversity as being that important?
Because it threatens us.
Some people can’t get past the differences in skin color. That’s not what I’m talking about. To me, that was the focus of people emphasizing diversity. It would make leadership teams look across the table wondering why there aren’t more people with darker or lighter skin at the same table.
It is much bigger than that. Diversity refers to anything that is different or unalike. So yes; different religions, different skin color, different ages, different backgrounds. What I’ve found to be the most uncomfortable has been the differences in beliefs just in the room full of people I am with.
This morning, an African man led us in worship, African style. I heard from a Lebanese man describe what it was like for his parents to shield him with their bodies during neighborhood bombings when he was a kid. I had dinner with someone working in Indonesia, and another working in Senegal. I listened to a young man from South Korea share about his family.
Just in my small group I’ve got a young guy, an older guy, a guy who calls me old, and a lady from the East Coast. Our perspectives are different. Our ages our different. Our theology is different. Yet these differences have painted such a new picture for me.
Many of us are only comfortable with diversity until it makes us uncomfortable.
These people have allowed me to see a more full picture of God. They have reminded me that Jesus isn’t American. When I clap and sing, African style, I am uncomfortable. When a young, sharp guy has such a different worldview than me, I am uncomfortable. But these differences make up the body of Christ. Young. Old. White. Black. Conservative. Liberal.
Jesus should be our focus, not diversity. What I’ve come to realize, though, is that this diversity is allowing me to see a deeper hue in the picture. A richer, more full perspective.
And for that, I am grateful.