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Cultural Intelligence: Improving Your CQ to Engage Our Multicultural World Book Review

This book validates the church’s need for cultural sensitivity and will benefit those in mini…
This book validates the church's need for cultural sensitivity and will benefit those in ministry positions around the world.

By Tina Von Wald

David A. Livermore wrote Cultural Intelligence: Improving your CQ to Engage Our Multicultural World with the intent to change the way cultures engage with one another.  He organized the book by four different factors, knowledge CQ, interpretive CQ, perseverance CQ, and behavioral CQ.  Each of these quotients represents a quadrant that “measures the ability to effectively reach across the chasm of cultural difference in ways that are loving and respectful.”[1]  Evaluation empowers individuals as they interact within different cultures and especially for the Christian.

The first part of the book discussed, in its three chapters, how the reader can more effectively express love towards individuals of different cultures, which Livermore refers to the individuals as “Other.”  The second section of the book includes five chapters discussing the knowledge or understanding ability of the learner to define their own culture in light of Others culture.  The third section contains four chapters dealing with the interpretive quotient. Described as, “the degree to which we’re mindful and aware when we interact cross-culturally.”[2]  The final sections three chapters navigate the reader by using the first three quotients to behave in a culturally sensitive fashion through service and relationships.

Each section of the book identifies, defines, and describes ways the reader can become more culturally intelligent through a fundamental change, not just an outer change.  Livermore stated, “The primary distinction of this book is that it uses an approach to cross-cultural interaction that stems from inward transformation rather than from information or, worse yet, from artificial political correctness.”[3]  The author desired the material to cause the reader to think about the importance of contextualization in each culture.  Livermore wrote, “Throughout this journey toward more effectively expressing love to the Other, we’ll explore the significance of seeing both ourselves and the Other as expressions of who God is.”[4]  Livermore desired the reader to become aware and actively increase their cultural sensitivity, with God’s help and a different approach to cultural intelligence.

Encouraging statements like, “Adopting a state of mindfulness in the midst of cross-cultural interaction allows us to step back and observe the automatic behaviors of ourselves and others.  Shutting down our semiautomatic impulses, choosing liminality for a period of time, and remaining mindful throughout cross-cultural experiences are all part of what it means to become more aware.”[5]  Through different cultural experiences, being mindful and aware of those around and the innate response that results from that individual’s culture can make the journey less intimidating.

Predominately white ministries can provide an opportunity for the development of cultural intelligence through education and creating events, that include different cultures experiencing conversations and connections.  The current political and social culture illustrates the need for cultural intelligence and sensitivity.  As believers, Christ mandated to love one another.  To show love in a Christlike fashion typifies how he loved.

Learning to live and love in other contexts and cultures confirms what Mark stated, “The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater.”[6]  Livermore wrote,

The flattened world is bringing us more and more encounters with people who aren’t like us.  We cannot hope to become experts in every cultural context in which we find ourselves.  But through cultural intelligence, we can enhance our ability to interact with one another in ways that are respectful, loving, and dignifying.  Herein lies the essence of the gospel.[7]

An essential step for the church of believers to exemplify the love of Christ comes through loving people without judgment or criticisms within their cultural norms.  This statement has an impact because it states that cultural intelligence allows for better connections, deeper connections that confirm respectfully and honoring of different peoples and their cultures.  Often presumptions come without consideration for other cultural differences.  God created different people, cultures, and languages but loved all the same.  Enhancing the acceptance and understanding of others encapsulates what Christ did while on the earth and thus requires believers of today to do the same.

The author presents the four quotients in detail using examples, Scripture, and everyday language, thus creating an understandable discussion.  He poses questions that challenge the reader to dig deeper and internalize the reading.  He does not spend the entire time theorizing the ideas but provides praxis for the material.  He stated, “Praxis is a valuable skill for everyone.  It allows for a holistic approach to education that empowers people to perceive critically ways they exist in their worlds.”[8]  The practice of the theory allows for change to happen.  The author did an excellent job of using ministry examples; he desired pastors and missionaries, leading in cross-cultural situations to find success through cultural intelligence. “With the growing opportunities for multicultural interactions at home and abroad, the question of how ministry leaders and their organizations can effectively minister in culturally diverse situations is a critical and challenging problem.”[9]  Livermore provides ample opportunities for growth throughout his writing.  He wrote this book with ministers in mind.

Limited research of the ministry environment impacted the material.  Livermore stated, “More needs to be understood about how to enhance the cultural intelligence of a ministry team as a whole.”[10]  Churches should typify the best practices when it comes to cultural sensitivity and intelligence.  The book also misses the rural context due to the emphasis on multicultural environments, not generally the demographics of rural areas.  Livermore wrote the book for all ministry leaders working in “rural, urban, and suburban contexts at home.”[11]  Based on my reading of the material rural illustrations, context, and examples lacked.

The author did an excellent job defining and distinguishing theory from practice and provide resources to start the conversation and evaluation for each ministry leader.  His promotion of inward change versus outward adherence augmented his argument through illustrations, examples, Scripture, and life experience.  The writing achieved practical, understandable, and applicable material for ministry leaders, hence fulfilling the goal of the book.

This book promotes cultural intelligence in a modern, Biblical, and understandable way. The book provides relevant examples to challenge the reader’s thoughts on potential issues within their perspectives.  The author asks thoughtful questions and poses scenarios that most people have experienced at one time or another.  The underlying theme of the book emphasizes loving like Christ.  That maintains what Christ told the church to do before He left this earth.  Love all.  This book validates the church’s need for cultural sensitivity and comes with high recommendations and will benefit those in ministry positions around the world or in the United States.  Others that may benefit from the book include believers seeking to share the hope of Jesus.  Sensitivity and understanding go a long way in sharing the gospel.

[1] David A. Livermore, Cultural Intelligence: Improving your CQ to Engage Our Multicultural World (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2009), 13.

[2] Livermore, Cultural Intelligence, 14.

[3] Livermore, Cultural Intelligence, 12.

[4] Livermore, Cultural Intelligence, 15.

[5] Livermore, Cultural Intelligence, 150.

[6] Mark 12:31, New Living Translation

[7] Livermore, Cultural Intelligence, 31.

[8] Livermore, Cultural Intelligence, 193.

[9] Livermore, Cultural Intelligence, 12.

[10] Livermore, Cultural Intelligence, 271.

[11]Livermore, Cultural Intelligence, 12.



Livermore David A. Cultural Intelligence: Improving Your CQ to Engage Our Multicultural World, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2009.

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