Foundations of Christian Wisdom: Diversity

By Uli Chi

May 15, 2024

Scripture — Acts 2:3-4 (NIV)

They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit.


The outpouring of God’s Spirit at Pentecost demonstrates that God’s wisdom is divided equally among the full diversity of gathered humanity, without distinction or discrimination.


Pentecost (Juan Bautista Maino c 1620-1625)

A fourth foundational insight of Christian wisdom is the importance of diversity to the art of becoming fully human.

Following Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension, the next seminal event of the Christian faith happened on the Day of Pentecost. The outpouring of God’s Spirit at Pentecost demonstrates that God’s wisdom is divided equally among the full diversity of gathered humanity, without distinction or discrimination. But much like today, the event’s implications were contested in the first century. A good deal of the literature of the New Testament deals with the early Church’s wrestling with its implications.

What does it mean that everyone had equal access to God and God’s wisdom without racial, ethnic, age, or gender considerations? Wisdom was no longer the province of a particular caste of people—religious, economic, or political. But many of the implications took millennia to work out. And if we are honest, they are being worked out still. But the original insight was unmistakable. As the Hebrew prophet Joel declared (and as the Apostle Peter quoted on the Day of Pentecost):

I will pour out my spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions.
Even on the male and female slaves,
in those days I will pour out my spirit.
– Joel 2:28-29, NRSVUE

That is a profoundly inclusive vision of God’s wisdom being accessible to all.

One of the early conclusions from this insight was the importance of valuing those who might otherwise be viewed as less desirable contributors to the community. Using the imagery of the human body, the Apostle Paul argued that everyone has something important to contribute. To quote him from his early letter to the church in the Roman city of Corinth: “Those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts we think are less honorable we treat with special honor” (1 Corinthians 12:22-23, NIV).

That’s a profound insight with far-reaching implications for us as leaders.

Let me give you one personal example. In my years in board governance, I’ve noticed that many of my female board colleagues tend to be less verbal than my male colleagues. (By the way, this is also my experience of board members from non-white, non-western cultural contexts, where deference to others is more valued than self-expression.)

Recently, I asked one of my respected female board colleagues what I could do as board chair to encourage broader participation and input. She offered a suggestion I found remarkably simple as it was helpful: Directly solicit a woman board member’s opinion on an important topic. And when I find that opinion insightful, say so. In her own long and distinguished board career, she observed that it was far more common for male board members to affirm other male board members’ input than that of their female colleagues. As she told me this, I was shocked to realize that I did the same thing. Her feedback was revelatory and has changed the way I conduct board meetings.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion aren’t just about making space at the table for those who have been previously excluded. It’s about creating a culture that values the voices that are otherwise silenced or disregarded. That requires intentionality on our part and a willingness to change the norms of how we behave. We tend to gravitate to the loudest and most honored voices but neglect those we consider marginal contributors to our work. But that’s a mistake. As the Apostle Paul articulated in a radically challenging way, Christian wisdom suggests we should honor those we might consider less honorable and view as indispensable those we might otherwise consider as weak, as those who have little to offer to our work.


Who in your circle do you consider least able to contribute to the flourishing of those in your community? How might you see them differently?


Talk with the person in your reflection above and ask about their experience and how you might support them.


God our Father,

We so easily dismiss others that we deem less capable, less desirable, less worthy. Yet you have made each of them in your image. You have made them to offer your gift in them for the well-being of the community. Forgive us for our blindness and our hard-heartedness.

Open our eyes so that we might see you and your gifts in those we deem the least. Help us to see your power made perfect in weakness.

We ask in your name,


Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: A Christian Identity as God’s Kingdom Witnesses in Daily Life (Acts 2:1-41).

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Uli Chi

Board Member, Senior Fellow, Affiliate Professor

Dr. Uli Chi’s career is a testament to his unique approach to leadership. He has navigated the realms of for-profit businesses, nonprofit organizations, the theological academy, and the local church, gleaning a wealth of wisdom from each. As an award-winning technological entrepreneur, h...

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