elephant in the roomLet’s talk about the elephant in the room most ignore: diversity.

Here’s the deal: my motivation for diversity in gender, race, age, and cultures in leadership is different from the motivation most in the world have. My motivation is twofold: 1) it makes us better, and 2) it makes us more like Heaven. Let me explain…

It makes us better…

…because more diverse experiences enhance the way we engage the world today. When I dialog with someone of a different gender, race, age, or culture they bring perspectives that broaden my horizon and enable me to engage the world as it is more fully, and I help them do that. Diverse leadership is more effective leadership, and more realistic. When a leadership group is made up of one race, one age group, one gender, or one culture (or, sometimes, all four, yikes!) then it is limited, and is more prone to groupthink than most such leadership cohorts. People that value effectiveness and relating to the world as it actually is will value diverse leadership, and their alarm bells will go off when any leadership group is all the same, especially if they are living and working in an environment that is not so mono-cultural.

It makes us more like Heaven…

…because Heaven is the most diverse place in the universe, and the places on earth which are more like Heaven are an answer to the Lord’s Prayer’s ask: “May your will be done, on earth AS IT IS in Heaven.” Since Heaven is not segregated, any work I can do to make my leadership circles more diverse is doing His Will. And this is why such diverse circles, to those that experience them, are so very rewarding and rich to be a part of. Frankly, those that experience them have trouble “going back.” After have women pastors work for me in the past 15 years, and now having one as my boss, I just don’t know if I could ever go back. Being in a room of seven or ten “just men” making decisions would feel weird and incomplete to me now. After working with black leaders in ministry and having several in authority over me on the General Board of our Denomination (the highest level of authority between our voting conferences) I would feel strange in a room of just white people making big decisions. After working in a church with 5 generations pretty evenly represented in the crowd and also in the board and staff, I would feel weird working with a church board or staff that was made up of just one generation–it would be way out of balance. Now that I work with so many of different cultures in the US, many of whom are first generation immigrants from other countries, my perspective has broadened and I would have trouble going back to a leadership team that all spoke the same first language, and all ate the same boring cuisine. I’ve gained those experiences from the Wesleyan Immigrant Connection leadership team and our Immigration Alliance board (which has only 3 white guys like me on it, and the other 8 are all of minority immigrant descent). For the above reasons it is too short-sighted to merely “look like our community.” That’s shallow, in fact–and just makes us like the culture. I want to be “like heaven” not like my community. And that means that even if my whole town is monocultural and monolingual, if one business leader from another country moves to town–I hope they come to MY church and become involved and lead in my church. I hope my leadership circle is the MOST WELCOMING of any in the town. Because that’s a foretaste of glory divine my friends!

So, I don’t push for diversity in leadership because I feel guilty or need to be politically correct. I push for this because I want our leadership circles to be better, and I want them to be more like heaven.

That’s my take. Do you resonate with these motivations, or have others ones you’d add? Do you disagree that these levels of diversity make us better and make us more like Heaven? What’s your take?

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