#321 A Flourishing World: Diversity is Affirmed

April 6, 2022

A second ingredient in a world that flourishes is that diversity is affirmed. God created a world that was beautiful and flourishing…and diverse!

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27, NIV)

From the beginning God created all people in His image giving them immense worth. All were created in God’s image; but not all were created identical. “Male and female he created them.”  God’s creation was built with diversity and in His design flourishing happens when this diversity is affirmed.  

Affirming diversity accelerates flourishing by acknowledging the intent.

God created them “male and female.” What was His intent? Why didn’t God simply duplicate the man? Why did He instead create a different person and at the same time, a distinct gender? Take a moment to imagine a world filled with only men. Now imagine a world with only women. What would these worlds be like? It doesn’t take an advanced degree to realize that either option would not lead to flourishing! God built differences into His design to help us realize that we are not complete as individuals. The unique value of each individual could not be fully expressed if every person were the same. Diversity is needed. God built diversity into His universe so that we recognize our need for others. This is part of the reason that all humans long for community and relationships with others. When we enter into relationships with others we more fully reflect God’s image and our diversity produces a flourishing world. Serving leaders affirm God’s design for diversity and acknowledge that they will not be complete alone.

 Affirming diversity accelerates flourishing by anticipating the impact.

Our world is filled with diversity, but we often let differences divide rather than complement. We allow differences to become points of tension and conflict instead of strengths. Wars are fought between different tribes and nations. People more often fight over their differences than celebrate them. Different groups fight for their rights. Different personalities stir up division and separation instead of cooperation and unity. But serving leaders look to God’s design and imagine a world in which diversity is affirmed. They dream of homes where both men and women are equally valued and appreciated. They envision organizations where healthy teams bring their diversity to the table and join hands to work together to accomplish much more, much better and much more quickly than individual efforts could produce. And serving leaders dream of this flourishing cascading from one family to the next, from one church to the next and from one business to the next.

Affirming diversity accelerates flourishing by accepting the implications.

Serving leaders recognize that action is needed for diversity to be affirmed. They don’t simply tolerate diversity; they welcome it! They first acknowledge their own need for others. They understand that there are no well rounded leaders, but there are well rounded teams. So they invite others to their team who are complementary but very different. They work hard to affirm and appreciate the unique perspectives and contributions of each individual. They focus on the unique strengths each person brings to their team and serve by helping them find the right place for those gifts to be expressed. Serving leaders create a flourishing world around them by affirming diversity.

For further reflection and discussion:

How has the intent of affirming diversity been distorted in your context? Reflect specifically about the thinking in this area in your culture, your family, and in the organization where you lead. What impact has this thinking had on you as a leader? In what ways do you need to adjust your thinking to align with God’s intent?

Reflect on what the impact would be if everyone in your organization would fully grasp and live out what it means to affirm diversity. Write at least three reflections.

What action steps will you take as a leader to affirm diversity in your home, organization or community? Choose which of these areas you will focus on and then list 2 or 3 specific steps you will take and dates for when you will take the actions.

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler

In the next issue, we’ll look at another ingredient of a flourishing world: Work is Purposeful