As in any great endeavor, not knowing what is required for survival or success is likely to lead to failure.
We often hear about wilderness survival adventures where the skills of surviving in the wilds are needed in order to return alive.
The same is true for leaders: without knowing the survival skills of leadership, the outcomes of failure or mediocrity are most likely. And no one wants to be known as a failed or mediocre leader.
A question we are often asked here in Dargaville, New Zealand, is how our various experiences compare to what it would be like in the United States. People are often surprised at our response; we tell them that we are not really comparing it to our experience in the U.S., but just taking it for what it is.
The desire to compare is part of our DNA as humans.
As we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and the power that is now available to the believer because of the resurrection, here’s a question to consider: How is the resurrection of our Lord empowering your work as a leader?
I imagine most leaders would say that resurrection power is central to their leadership. But does their life and work as leader bear out this claim? If Christ’s resurrection power is at work in their ministry, why does their life and ministry provide little evidence of that reality?
Followers are not maturing in their walk with Jesus. Lives of defeat rather than victory appear to be the norm. Infighting, gossiping, envy and strife are evident. Too many people live only “having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof…” (2 Tim.3:5, KJV).
During the past few weeks of jogging here in New Zealand, I have become known as the guy who jogs with the blue shirt, black shorts, black and blue shoes and yellow cap. Yes, I jog with a cap because the risk of sunburn here is very high compared to other parts of the world. I jog three different routes; the route I take on a given day is determined by the distance of my run.
While jogging, I occasionally stop and talk with someone. I usually say my name, but not often do I get a name from them. We will converse about life in our different countries, and then it will eventually come down to talking about the weather. Many farmers and people who grew up on farms in the area live so naturally, the weather is an important topic!
I began thinking about how I am known in the community by those who see me jogging daily. I then wondered, how do people remember us after they have encountered us?
One of the things I have had to get used to in Dargaville, New Zealand, is the number of people who walk to their destinations. It is a small town and one can get to places quite easily and quickly without driving. As a result, people are always walking the streets.
Since people walk so much around here, they must cross the street from time to time. As I mentioned in my blog (How Rude!) two weeks ago, unless you are at a designated pedestrian crossing, vehicles have the right of way. Sometimes crossing the street is risky business!
As I also mentioned in the previous blog, where I live in the United States, stopping for someone to cross the street, even when there is no pedestrian crossing, is fairly normal and considered the kind thing to do.
As I have been driving and jogging around Dargaville, New Zealand, I have been noticing something very interesting. Wherever building construction is happening, whether commercial or residential, the property is fenced. The fences are mandatory to restrict access so that people don’t walk onto the building site. On the fence are any number of notices, such as, “Keep Out,” “No Trespassing,” “Danger,” etc.
Those of you who know me well, know that I am an avid jogger. When arriving in a new place, some may look for places to shop or eat, but one of the first thing I do is check out where can I go jogging. Consequently, moving to a new place for six months meant that I would need to discover the jogging areas.
I started my jogging routine soon after we arrived and quickly discovered something rather interesting. In my experience, where I live in the United States – Nampa, Idaho – drivers are very courteous to joggers. For example, when I approach an intersection, although vehicles generally have the right of way, they almost always stop and let me either make the turn or cross the intersection ahead of them.
One of the church members invited us to come out and look around his property. He told us he has some cows, chickens and other animals there. He instructed us to bring gum boots (rubber boots) if we had any; fortunately, there were some gum boots at our house (left by the previous residents), so we took them. He also told us he would take us “around the mud track.” OK – sounds fine (though not sure what he meant).
We arrived at the property, spent a few minutes in the house greeting the family, making small talk, etc. Meanwhile, the man who was going to show us the property went to get a vehicle and soon reappeared at the house and asked, “Who wants to go for a ride?” Well, we knew that meant the three of us: my wife, my daughter, and me. (Pictured are Rhonda and Kimberly in the midst of this adventure.)
One of the nice things about being here in New Zealand is that we don’t have a language barrier. English is the spoken and written language, which has made communication easier. Yet, while communication has been relatively easy, we have had some challenges with communicating – because context determines meaning.
When we arrived, one of the members of the congregation asked if we liked fishing. Well, of course we like fishing; it’s something our family enjoys doing together. So, he offered to take us ocean fishing. We were excited for this opportunity since our family has never been ocean fishing.
When the day came, we were told to make up some sandwiches, meet at the member’s house and we would go from there. From our limited wardrobe, we dressed as best we could in clothing appropriate for fishing, packed some sandwiches, grabbed a towel just in case, and put on our water shoes since we expected our feet might get wet with water splashing into the boat.
Today marks one month since we left the United States to begin this amazing journey of interim pastors for six months in New Zealand. It has been a good month for us as we lead this church. As we have been adjusting to our role and meeting the people on the community, here are some observations.