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4 Helpful Attitudes in Building Cross Cultural Relationships

Friends of Internationals is based in Mobile, AL
Friends of Internationals is based in Mobile, AL

Recently I was invited to speak at a forum on diversity at the University of South Alabama. The University has a new President Dr. Tony Waldrop who sees the need to recognize the shifting demographics of both students and the United States as a whole.

If the world is indeed moving to our neighborhoods, we will have to equip ourselves and our churches and ministries to know how to build Christ honoring relationships with our diverse neighbors.

Below are four attitudes I have found helpful in building cross cultural relationships.

An Open Mind

When we close our minds, we become deeply ethnocentric–viewing others different than us as culturally inferior or of less value.

A Humble Heart

Fallen and sinful humanity is basically prideful and cultural bigotry is one example of this reality. We simply reject others as being inferior to ourselves. It takes a humble heart to consistently be open to significant relationships with people unlike us!

A Listening Ear

In order to be open to others we have to make every effort to listen carefully to people different from us. We need to listen for what is being said, what isn’t being said…and for what needs to be said!

Faith in a Loving God

The greatest enemy of healthy relationships is fear. The New Testament epistle of 1 John 4: 18, 19 is clear,

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.”

I believe segregation is rooted in fear and pride. We seldom move in the direction of people different than us without the possession of some key character traits and behaviors that help us build the bridges that help us over the real chasm of cultural differences.

We tend to choose to spend time with people similar to us. Proximity in our daily lives doesn’t necessarily lead to relationship.

Someone will have to get uncomfortable before real relationships develop across cultures.

-Jim Mather

Friends of Internationals

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