Reflections of the ministers and senior staff.


Reflections of the ministers and senior staff.
3 minutes reading time (600 words)

Trust, Justice, Cultural Humility, and Relationships

Trust, Justice, Cultural Humility, and Relationships

This past Sunday, my sermon was on how building deep relationships might help us create a world that works for everyone.  There was one part I did not get to in that sermon.  I would love to share it with you here.

A few years ago, I started hearing the phrase “cultural humility” especially in relationship to the term “cultural competency”.  For those unfamiliar with these terms, I’ll offer my own understanding of them.  Cultural competency is the idea that we should understand someone else’s culture so that we might interact with them respectfully.  Cultural humility is realizing that we don’t know everything about someone else’s culture and experience, we are open to listening and understanding, and we work to be aware of our own experience and bias so we might better understand what are the experiences and stories we don’t understand.

Cultural competency is not a bad thing.  At it’s best, it can be the attempt to make a space more welcoming for people by understanding their experiences and practices.  But, cultural competency can also give the illusion that we have figured everything out and no longer need to learn beyond the experiences we currently understand.

I know that I do not know everything about anything!

To me, cultural humility is necessary if our aim is to build relationships and community.  We need to be ready to listen and learn about a person’s experiences while building relationships and communities.  We need to be open to understanding and know that we will find opportunities to grow.  In my opinion, cultural humility helps us remember that a person has identities that may impact how they experience life while also being an individual human being with their own opinions, thoughts, and feelings.

And cultural humility needs trust to thrive.

I’m going to let you in on a theory I have about trust (though I won’t say it’s original as I’m sure someone else has thought of it).  I believe that all human beings consider how much they can trust the people they interact with to some extent.  I don’t think every person considers it to the same extent though.  One reason that someone might question trustworthiness more is when they have experienced more pain from people in their life.  And I think that is valid and reasonable in many ways.  If you are in a situation that has caused you pain before, you might avoid that situation if it seems to come to your life again.

This is why cultural humility needs deep trust.  In order for someone to truly be themselves with you, they need to trust you.  Even more so if they have accumulated pain over their lives.  It doesn’t matter if I’m the most lovely and wonderful person in the world.  If a relationship hasn’t been formed that has built trust, a person is less likely to be fully themselves and share themselves with me.

Now, the part of me that likes to “achieve” things or arrive at “goals” is very intimidated by this.  How do I know if I’ve done it right?  To that, I say to myself and (possibly) you:  there is no test and there is no grade.  What is there is what we build with one another.  And from what we build with one another comes a deeper understanding of each other in community.  From that understanding comes a deeper actualization of a world where all are heard.  And from hearing one another, we are more able to fully build a world that works for everyone.  So go forth in love and build some relationships!

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