When Jesus ascended to Heaven leaving the disciples on earth to carry on his ministry, he left them with the command to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Mt. 28:19). This was a command to be influencers and to become leaders for the cause of God’s kingdom. This command also carried with it an assumed command that as Jewish men they were expected to step out of their cultural comfort zones and effectively reach people not from a Jewish culture.
The disciples needed to develop a higher degree of cultural agility, which is the ability to quickly, comfortably, and effectively work in different cultures and with people from different cultures (Caligiuri, 2013). Just as was the case for the disciples, modern spiritual leaders need to be effective in a multicultural and cross-cultural context (Lundby, Lee, & Macey, 2012). To effectively reach the global village for the cause of Jesus, Christ followers need to understand the shared values, stories, and artifacts that make up a given culture (Lundby & Caligiuri, 2013).
Central to the development of cultural agility is the virtue of humility Jesus promoted and Paul the Apostle often taught about. Humility is the quality of possessing a modest sense of one’s own significance (Sarros, Cooper, & Hartican, 2006). The disciples, as well as all Jews, possessed a great deal of pride in their national heritage (Mt. 3:7-9), so they needed to set aside their cultural bravado and replace it with cultural humility to spread the gospel (Caligiuri, 2013). In the global village of the future, cultural boundaries will be less and less geographical, because multiple culture groups will live in the same towns and the same neighborhoods.
In order to fulfill Christ’s command to disciple, cultural agility will become a necessary trait of every Christ follower.
Caligiuri, P. (2012). Cultural agility: building a pipeline of successful global professionals. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Lundby, K., & Caligiuri, P. (2013). Leveraging Organizational Climate to Understand Cultural Agility and Foster Effective Global Leadership. People and Strategy, 36(3), 26–30.
Lundby, K., Lee, W. C., & Macey, W. H. (2012). Leadership Essentials to Attract, Engage, and Retain Global Human Talent. In Advances in Global Leadership (Vol. 7, pp. 251–270). Emerald Group Publishing Limited. Retrieved from http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.1108/S1535-1203%282012%290000007015
Sarros, J. C., Cooper, B. K., & Hartican, A. M. (2006). Leadership and character. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 27(8), 682–699. http://doi.org/10.1108/01437730610709291