Context Determines Meaning, Part 2

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.)

Context Determines Meaning

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.

Going Out of Our Way for Others

We are now three weeks into our journey of living in another culture.  So far, the journey as been good and enlightening. We are learning a lot about the people of this country. They are friendly, helpful, and kind.

Two weekends ago we took the opportunity to play the role of tourists for a couple of days before Kimberly started school. Before we left on the trip around the Northland of New Zealand, we were told of the beauty of the countryside we could expect to see. Places to stop and sights to look for were pointed out to us. We loaded up our car and headed out in the early morning with great expectations.

Out of My Comfort Zone

We have been in New Zealand for one week and today started our assignment as co-leaders of the Nazarene church here in Dargaville. Coming into this situation puts us out of our comfort zones in many ways.

We are in a country where neither of us have been before. We are now driving a car on the left side of the road with the steering wheel on the right. In terms of food, we can find foods here that we are used to back home, but most often the taste and/or texture are different. For example, sweet corn is harvested later here, so what we might consider overripe is considered just right. There are things we know we will not find.

Leading Cross-Culturally

Well my friends, today begins a new journey for my family and me as we have arrived in New Zealand for a six-month stint of pastoring, leadership training and, hopefully, launching a Celebrate Recovery ministry. In those months, you will be hearing from us as we experience what it means to lead in a culture different from our own.

As we were making preparations to come to New Zealand, I had a thought: We are not going to New Zealand looking for America; rather we are going to New Zealand to be in New Zealand. This means that we will resist comparing how New Zealanders do things to Americans, but rather try to understand why they do things the way they do.

Wounded Healers

While in graduate school in the mid-‘80s I read Henri Nouwen’s book, The Wounded Healer. That book changed my life.

At the time I was walking around with wounds I had experienced physically, emotionally, verbally, mentally and spiritually. I was ashamed of these wounds and did not know what to do with them. After reading the book, I began the journey of becoming a wounded healer.

Your No. 1, Uncompromising Priority for 2018

How are you doing with the goals and plans you have set for 2018? Although we are only into the second week of January, perhaps you have already run into some challenges that are cutting into your plans.

The challenge for many of us is that we set goals without really thinking about how we can be at our best in order to give our best. We set career or ministry goals, relationship goals, and financial goals, as well as goals to improve spiritually, physically and mentally. But when the going gets tough, many times the personal goals are compromised first.

Looking Back to Move Forward

Here we are at the end of another year. For some of us it was a great year; for others, not so great; and for some, it may have been a disaster. Regardless of how 2017 may have been, at this moment you are looking at a new beginning.

As you look ahead to 2018, you may be thinking it is an opportunity for a new start. Perhaps you are anticipating a fresh start in business, family life, personal life, spiritual life or some important relationships you may have been neglecting. Whatever the possibilities, I offer a few observations that I hope will be helpful in how you approach 2018.

Private Habits Translate to Public Living

In recent days we have experienced shock and disbelief at hearing news about people we know – or thought we knew. It’s difficult to wrap our heads around the shocking behavior of some of those people.

Consider another perspective. Have you ever been surprised to hear about someone you know doing something that took a great deal of courage? Perhaps they stood up to authority, or did not back down on a principle. Well, many courageous people have been coming forward lately.

We have witnessed both perspectives in recent days. We have been shocked to learn of some of the private habits that have been brought to light by a courageous few who took a stand, some at the risk of great cost to themselves.