Diversity in Recruitment
Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses’ father-in-law, heard of all that God had done for Moses and for his people Israel, how the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt. After Moses had sent away his wife Zipporah, his father-in-law Jethro took her back, along with her two sons. The name of the one was Gershom (for he said, “I have been an alien in a foreign land”), and the name of the other, Eliezer (for he said, “The God of my father was my help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh”). Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, came into the wilderness where Moses was encamped at the mountain of God, bringing Moses’ sons and wife to him. He sent word to Moses, “I, your father-in-law Jethro, am coming to you, with your wife and her two sons.” Moses went out to meet his father-in-law; he bowed down and kissed him; each asked after the other’s welfare, and they went into the tent. Then Moses told his father-in-law all that the Lord had done to Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel’s sake, all the hardship that had beset them on the way, and how the Lord had delivered them. Jethro rejoiced for all the good that the Lord had done to Israel, in delivering them from the Egyptians.
Jethro said, “Blessed be the Lord, who has delivered you from the Egyptians and from Pharaoh. Now I know that the Lord is greater than all gods, because he delivered the people from the Egyptians, when they dealt arrogantly with them.” And Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and sacrifices to God; and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat bread with Moses’ father-in-law in the presence of God.
Paul’s Prayer for the Philippians
I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because you hold me in your heart, for all of you share in God’s grace with me, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.
Paul’s Present Circumstances
I want you to know, beloved, that what has happened to me has actually helped to spread the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to everyone else that my imprisonment is for Christ; and most of the brothers and sisters, having been made confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, dare to speak the word with greater boldness and without fear.
Who do you want on your team?
There is a lot of talk about diversity in the media. In the past, it has been eluded to in the form of organizational status. Those companies with more diverse leadership are seen as being “progressive”, implying that they will soon rise to become the elite groups of tomorrow. Lately it has often appeared in the negative form of “racism”. In our polarized culture, I think it is important to look at some of the basic truths of forming groups and raising up leaders.
The kind of diversity in our group is influenced by us. Everyone shares the credit or blame. There have been many groups that I could have added my own diversity to, but instead I chose to turn down the invitation, or avoid their attention altogether. We influence others by our absence as much as by our attendance.
The old story of the blind men observing an elephant held an almost sacred status during the birth of post-modernism because it taught us the value of multiple perspectives in a world that was growing smaller and more global by the minute. That was partly true, although this unity was being drawn around by drawing broader divisions between progressive vs non-progressive groups. East vs. West. Iraq vs USA. Afghanistan vs USA. Iran, Syria, China, Russia, North Korea vs. USA and whatever “progressive” allies we can make among the European nations, and today, some of the less extreme Eastern nations as well. The underlying truth remains, that “two heads are better than one”, so diversity is still an important factor in teams and leadership, but it may not be as simple as greater diversity = greater teams.
It is a simple fact that the more people you get together, the more personal agendas you adopt into the group. Most segregation occurs unconsciously on the assumption that someone who looks like me will think and feel like me as well. (Although that is not necessarily the case!) The flip side to “two heads are better than one” is the old adage of “too many cooks in the kitchen”.
It is a balancing act between keeping a broad perspective and having a focus on mission. Moses did not go seeking out non-Hebrews to lead the new nation, but when his father-in-law Jethro, a pagan priest, came recognizing the superiority of the God of Moses, Moses saw an opportunity to bring in some important insight. He knew the wilderness. He knew the neighbors. Being a priest, he knew people as well, and how to lead them… a skill that would quickly come to be useful for Moses.
Paul’s prayer to the Philippians may not exactly look like a prayer for diversity. However, Paul was teaching them to see God working in all places. That is one of the best ways we have of maintaining that balance between diverse perspective and mission focus. We let God lead us and remain open to His ability to work ini and through every person and situation.
Where have you experienced the benefits of diversity?
Where have you experienced the challenges of diversity?
Where do you see God working now?
- (Deut 1:9–18) ↩
- Text cannot communicate the full context by which these labels are used. One of the multi-faceted aspects of “progressive” nations has been the protection and promotion of women’s rights. Another has been the breakdown of the family unit through increased divorce and children being raised by guardians rather than biological parents. This may also be linked to children spending less time with adults than ever in the history of the world in those places, and a growing inability to trust in relationships. In cases of abuse and slavery, it is often the non-progressive groups who are made victims in their own culture, but whose abuse is funded or ultimately by people of power in those more “progressive groups”. If we are truly going to embrace the blind man and the elephant philosophy, we have to be willing to look critically at all perspectives, measuring the harm and good done by everything, including those ideas that promote freedom and equality… especially because sometimes freedom and equality for some mean that it is denied to others. We live in a complex, messy world. ↩