Latino Cultural Intelligence: Personalismo

This post is the first post in a 10-part series called “Latino Cultural Intelligence.” Deepening your understanding of our Latino culture will serve you well as you plant LaFe ministry on campus. Inspiration for this series comes from “The Power of Latino Leadership” by Juana Bordas.

In the Latino community, we follow leaders who we respect, trust and connect with on a personal level … people with personalismo. Juana Bordas, when writing about personalismo said that “a leader’s character earns trust and respect … and secures the relational aspect of leadership.”

It’s not enough to have great vision. It’s not enough to point out an urgent need. It’s not even enough to be an accomplished person. When we Latinos are looking for leadership, we look for people we can respect, trust and connect with on a personal level.

This creates a unique challenge with LaFe planting.

  • We’re creating a brand new ministry with no track record: why should we be shown respect?
  • We’re reaching people who are new to us and don’t know us: why should we be shown trust?
  • We’re motivated by an urgent cause and have a huge task: how can we take time to connect at a deep, personal level?

When a LaFe ministry plant fails to get off the ground, it’s almost always due in part to a breakdown in the personalismo (or perceived personalismo) of the leaders. Without respect, trust and connection a LaFe ministry will not thrive.

As you plant your LaFe ministry, ask youself: “Do I have the character to lead these students? Does my plan for planting position me to display personalismo?”

Here are several resources to help you develop and display personalismo as you plant LaFe ministry:

image credit: Trenten Kelley

Steve Tamayo serves as the Special Projects Director for LaFe, InterVarsity’s Latino Fellowship. He’s married to Amy and together they have two sons, Will and Jack. Steve is also the Associate Pastor at Chatham Community Church.

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