communication,  education,  faith,  leadership

CQ: Loving and Leading Like Jesus

“What’s wrong with her?” 

That was the question on my mind as I entered the room to find that Jessica hadn’t done what I asked her to. As her Internship Director, I thought she would have at least made an effort. Or asked questions. Or something.

I thought: “I could not have been more clear.”

I learned later that Jessica had tried. But my instructions did not mean to her what was so obvious to me. In our ensuing discussion, I realized my communication was clear…to me. But not to Jessica – a Southeast Asia citizen serving in the U.S.

I want to tell you this was an isolated incident. But similar scenarios have taken place more times than I can count. And each time I learn I have misjudged…misunderstood… misheard…or just altogether missed another human being. Someone I want to serve, to lead, to guide well.


In the organization I serve as President and CEO, the Institute for Cultural Communicators, one of our core values is genuine cultural communication. For our young communicators and emerging leaders, that means learning to communicate with people who are not like us. 

While we strive to be an increasingly life-giving community (another one of our core values), it’s also vital to acknowledge that we belong to a larger community – the body of Christ. This great community we are privileged to live and work alongside is a beautifully  diverse portrait of our Creator’s best handiwork.   

Loving and leading well in a diverse community requires cultural intelligence (CQ).

Experiencing a different culture is often associated with crossing geographical borders or different ethnicities. But you don’t have to travel far to meet people who are different from you.

Take a moment to consider. Can you think of a few people – family members, co-workers, neighbors, someone at your church – who think or live very differently from the way you do?


It’s easy to label someone’s different way of doing things as wrong. But a more culturally-intelligent approach is to get curious.

Curiosity is at the heart of cultural intelligence. In fact, it’s about posturing our hearts. Changing our impulse from “Why can’t you see this like I do?” to “Help me see what I might be missing!”

It takes practice. Especially when it comes to matters of faith. In a lost and dying world, we feel pressure to have all the answers before we feel ready to speak for Jesus.

But ultimately, we are not the answer, and we do not have all the answers. We can rest secure in the knowledge that Jesus is the answer, and we want to point others to him.

When we approach those in other cultures from a posture of curiosity and humility, it opens up our hearts and theirs to do just that. Just like Paul when he spoke at Mars Hill, we can exercise CQ to bring the Truth into diverse cultures and situations in a way that enables us to love and lead well.

I’d love to hear your own experiences with growing in cultural intelligence (CQ). Please share your successes or failures, or what someone else modeled for you in the comments. 


P.S. I dive deeper into Cultural Intelligence and how it can help lead students to success in education and in life in my book Vital Signs. You can grab a copy here!


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