PurposeCity
PurposeCity

Episode · 1 month ago

16: Meant for More

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“You know that being meant for more means so much more than filling your life with mere matter, with material things, with stuff and possessions and power and pleasures and treasures. No. It means investing in those things that really matter, those things that last, like relationships and integrity and the personal touch and faith. It means valuing others because we never know when the next moment might be the last moment.” – Rev. John A. Nunes, author of ‘Meant for More.’

John Arthur Nunes, Ph.D., is a Lutheran pastor and the president of Concordia College—New York, a small Christian college with a diverse and global student body. Previously, John served as the President and CEO of Lutheran World Relief (Baltimore) and as a professor at Valparaiso University. 

PurposeCity podcasts are presented by Executive Wealth Management and exemplify our core values of trust, community, and compassion.

PurposeCity can be seen and heard at ewmadvisors.org/purposecity and all major podcast platforms. 

This is purpose city stories ofhumanity in action presented by executive wealth management. Guest onpurpose city do not necessarily reflect an endorsement of executive wealthmanagement. Reverend Dr John Nunez greetings good good good good day, Sirgood near New York, correct, New York, correct ones from New York and so yeah. I wasjust saying before I went on every time. I do a podcast, no matter how preparedI am or not prepared. I feel discombobulate and I think you mighthave invented a word re combobulated. Is that that's interesting? That'sinteresting. I was in Mitchell airport, which is in Milwaukee and after you gothrough the TSA line, and you know what TSA stands for totally slow andannoying all right, and so that that's not fair, because they do great workfor us. But after you get through the TSA line and they take off your beltand your shoes and and whatever is in your pocket and you go through two orthree times through the electro magnano enter and you come out on the otherside in Mitchell. Airport in Milwaukee, they've got an area and they call it.The re come bobulation zone, it's actually didn't make the word up. Itactually comes from there wow. Is it really? It is really a word. Well, I don't know if it's the word,they usually use it. They use a cocky airport yeah. So how do you use it? Howdoes that fit into? So I think I was telling you. I am almost finished withyour latest book meant for more, and I knew I was meant for more before Istarted it, but now I'm super convinced, and but how does it fit? How does it recompounded fit into toyour world view or what you're trying to express there? So one of thecontrasts that I use in the book and thanks Ken for plowing your way through,is this notion that in life we will often get discombobolated by thestresses and the pressures and the...

...fatigues and all of those externalvariables in life and the purpose of human community. The purpose of ourcoming together, the purpose of good neighbors, the purposes of sevenorganizations of churches and synagogues and mosques. The purpose ofbringing people together is to re combobulated them. So that they may berenewed in their strength and their spiritual strength and their socialstrength in order to go back into the world and make a difference so on adaily basis. What does that mean to my life, like all of those I agree with?It makes sense like on a larger scale, but to me it sounds like to do thing. Ishould get more involved in civic community. I should get more involvedin things going on. I should get to know my neighbors. What can someone dolike today? Isn't life being a KA present right, yeah sure it's easy toyou know be a great bird. It's easy to be a cynic. It's easy to be a complainer about the way things are inthe world these days. The way things are in our community these days, and sowhat I'm kind of calling for in the book is for us to commit ourselves torelationships, commit ourselves to file organizations. We need one another,probably more than we know and our lives are formed and shaped by thepeople that we on a day to day basis connect with you know, one of thereasons I gave the book the title in with the sub title. Excuse me: The bookis titled Menage For more and the subtitle is in with and under theordinary, and can one of the reasons I gave it. That title is because I thinkoften times we are seeking the more in the spectacular and the sensational andthe more is really found, I believe in with and under the ordinaryrelationships, the ordinary duties we have as parents as spouses, ascommunity members, the grind and...

...and getting ourselves kind of involvedin the grit of life. The grip is where it is right. The day to day, looking atthe day to day things you go through, appreciating them finding the value inthem or trying to achieve. I tried to look at one day to time. Yeah is so that's it. So it's so it's aroundrelationships of integrity. Mamoni is my wife. We have we have. We have a daughter, and thenwe had a daughter, and after that we had a daughter and then then we had adaughter and then, after that we had a daughter and then we had a suck. Wehave six jo over it, and so you know this. This means work, you know it's.The most important work you will do in life is, is, is family, and but it isthere and it is in those ordinary day to day relational dynamics that youkind of discover, the more for which you are men. That's the that's the kindof Jist. So in that, when you talk about enduring an is it the day today?Is it the big things we endure the big tragedies in life and or is it thoseenduring making sure six kids have their lunches or going picking theright college and the other one's getting on the school bus and just enduring that day to day grind with a positive attitude andknowing that everything is moving in a good direction and that being burdenedby the day to day? So here is here's where I think,there's two things that are very important: to have something to hope for to knowthat the trajectory of life is heading in a direction that has meaning andpurpose attached to it. That life is just not incidental or random, but thatlife has a under girding purpose and then thesecond thing is to know again the in...

...with and under the ordinary that woventhrough. All of that stuff that wears us out and tires us out is is, in myfaith, tradition, it's the hand of God that is with us and working with usthrough the at ordinary stuff that that we are called in life to particularvocations that are always attached to particular locations. Other words,vocation and location do more than just rhyme. They actually have something todo with each other yeah. How do you know when you're in that day to day when you're hittinga place where you're flourishing? Well, that's a great question, so this notion of human flourishing? Isit really interesting it has? It has sometimes in our society? I think wecan reduce flourishing to the amount of treasures that you can accumulate orthe amount of pleasures that you can get or the amount of power gains you can win and it is not in though it is not in thatkind of greatness that we understand what flourishing is that flourishing isfound actually in, as we just said, can in the day to day, and you know itbecause of the small victories that you have and they actually matter biggerthan the than the t and the public rewards. You know I've had theopportunity over my career, both in academia and in pastoral ministry, to be with peoplewho are sort of at the end of their lives or at the end of their careers,and to listen carefully to what they say has mattered, and in almost everycase. Invariably, they will talk about relationships of lives of others thatthey have transformed or that they have sacrificed for, and they made adifference and that's how they know that their life has mattered and thatflourishing matters right so in men for...

...more we're all meant for more, and itseems like what you're stating in the book that I could see from thebeginning is stating to us what we think we might think is meantfor more. The things we think are important to us, like you're, statingthere at the end of life or end of careers, conversations end up not beingwhat we thought was more. So what is it really in the human nature or are ourdesires that we think are more that really end up at the end of the daybeing less than ye? So this is why I write this bit.Can on the notion of neighboring or the word neighbors really interesting. Itmeans those who it means your near near dwellers, those who live near US- andyou know, you're in a great metropolitan area in Detroit, I'm in ametropolitan area of twenty million people. In the Greater New York area,eight hundred different languages, and so we have a particular challenge inthese sorts of diverse communities with people who don't walk like us, or talklike us, or look like us or cook like us or dance like us, or don't dancelike us, O right, and we have a particular challenge and trying tofigure out how to do life together in a pluralistic society, and so one of the one of the themesthat I spend time with is understanding the difference can between kind of atribal truth. Some truth, that's true for my tribe and a transcendent truth,a truth that goes beyond my own life. So I'm back to eight I'm stuck on eighthundred languages. That is phenomenal. So what are they all her yea got it? Okay, let me justsay this, but you know at the end of the day and I've had the opportunity. Iwas president and CEO of Lutheran World Relief and International DevelopmentAgency right working in more than fifty countries around the world, and one ofthe things I discovered is that, at the end of the day, humans are humans andat the end of the day we all want sort...

...of the same thing. We all want to besecure and safe from any kind of attack. We all want to be have enough food toeat. We all want to have our children who have a future and a hope for them.So, although there are eight hundred different languages in the Greater NewYork area and more than that in the world, there's really one language.There really is one human language, and I think that there's more that unitehuman persons than that divides us, I think too often can we can reallyreally divided around differences. That really don't make a difference. Sure Imean it's right that our DNA is ninety nine point: Nine percent identical tothe rest of the hunter. So it's really interesting because you know within socalled the races in the first place. I believe that race itself is a fiction.Race doesn't actually exist as a category, but within so called races,there's actually more DNA difference to your point, Ken than there is betweenso called races right. So this is why this is why you know we are challengedin our particular part of the world with definitions of what it means to be moreor challenge, because we think it has to do with that which we can accumulateor that which we can control, but actually the more comes when we do theharder work of building not only relationships in our families, as Ijust said, but also relationships in our communities that mat and that'swhat I call transcending truth. That's the truth that goes beyond peopleplaces and time. Now. What is a we're kind of talking on on a higherlevel, I like to bring back to the practical. So for me, literally almostin my neighborhood I mean, is it about intentionality of yeah we're all in our circles? Yeah! It's really! It's two questions.It's it's! First, the Sesame Street question: Who are the people in yourneighbor...

...in your neigh yeah and your neighbor,it's about knowing who your neighbors actually just knowing who they areknowing you know their nant, knowing a little bit about their story and then at's the first question andthe second question I you'll be my name otes right. I got you where you weregoing exactly so. You know in my faith, tradition, Jesus says who is myneighbor and I think those two answers are or great, you know first find outwho they are yeah. Finding their names learn their stories they're in theirhistories and you'll, find out actually there's more that unites us years andthen the second question is: Won't you be my neighbor? So just do it with, asyou say, with intentionality yeah, so neighboring doesn't happen like byaccident. People have to actually go out of their way to speak to other humans to invitehumans to whatever backyard event. They are happening to invite them to do lifetogether with them, and I think that's a unique opportunity. We have in theUnited States of America where we have this. Amazing diversity were differentindividuals, value each other, regardless of skin identity, talent oryears that actually spells diversity, wow yeah. So if you add up, DNA wereninety nine point: Nine percent, all the sang, and if it's just culture anddifferent upbringings that you know I don't know if the word right isdivide, but keep us separate what we make intention to see who's in ourneighborhood. Will you be my neighbor good? Introduce yourself get involvedin people's lives? I think people would be amazed. You'vehad the fortunate way more than I, but I spend time in third world countries.I was amazed even with that knowledge to be around South African childrenthat were identical to our children and behavior in nature and want in whatmakes them laugh. What makes them cry.

They just have a different culture, butwe're exactly the same. You just take that step to step into their world orin their neighborhood, and it's not that hard or not. That de it's right.Could it's not that hard and we're not that different, but you overcamewhatever fears you had to get on a plane and to fly. You know twelve hoursand to go into a place that was new and strange to you and different, and soyou didn't allow your imagination to be a source of anxiety. You, let yourimagination, be a source of creativity, and I actually think that's part of theissue here is that we can get carried away with our fear and with imagininghow bad things are and what could possibly happen with these people, whoare different right and to use that same imagination to be creative in strategies forbringing humanity together. Yeah and I've been interested. I've heard youmentioned once or twice on the interesting word of minority yeah yeah minority is a is a reallybizarre word, because if minority means non white, that would mean that eightyfive percent of the world's population are minorities, that a majority ofpeople be minorities. So it's a really unfortunate term. I think you know Iwish we could get rid of some of these. Like these categories, I sometimesacademically use the term minorities in the more passive. So it's the people,I've had kind of a minority status done to them. But of course, when we use it,though a minority we are referring to, I t t is about either a power imbalance,or maybe you know, financial imbalance. I notice you use the term Third Worldwhen you were describing the play in...

South Africa, for example.Interestingly, South Africa's a country that is on its way to becoming a firstworld country in many ways right so, but what do we mean when we say ThirdWorld we be? You know non developed, we mean a country that doesn't have asmuch access to capital and to health care and to technology and to all ofthe other things that we have in the West right yeah and I think, sometimes,even if things change in countries progress, we tend to use terms or like.I did because that's just how we've identified those countries- and it's not the right thing to do, butwe just we tend to still put it in a category,because everybody knows what we're talking about but well. I know you knowI think Antropologia lly in terms of human history, humans were originallywired for safety purposes, to be reallyreally hyper aware about. who was a friend who was an enemy? who was astranger who was a family member? And so we have an instant Malcolm Black.Well wrote a book called Blink. We have a kind of instantaneous ability to forma judgment on that person that we see so people who say I don't see race,that's untrue! You know, we all see what we see it would be. Like me,saying Ken when I met my wife was an incredibly beautiful woman that I didnot see gender. Of course I saw gender. I saw a woman now right that I knowwhere she's like more than a woman to me right, but anyhow, now that I knowher she's more than just that category, and so this is why it's important toget to know people to zoom in and get to know them, because when you get toknow people, you come to realize that, as you stated as war that unites us,it's not whether or not you see race. It's what you do with what you see,because at the end of the day, race is a fiction. But racism is a fact, andracism has to do with us, making judgments about others based on someimagination that we have about who they...

...are or what they might must representright, yeah in imagination, in addition to indoctrination right by yes, theculture around us by the culture around cultural imagination, even sure surethe group think sort of happening so is does a loving and politic andpoliticians who, I think in many cases, keep us divided, because you know themore you divide the more boats. You can win, that's right! Well, I try not tosay that's right on this. I just I just listen. Yeah Right, I views don'tnecessarily represent okay. I right just listening to what you think. So, when you talk about loving, bore, you know stating that you go into detail. Itsounds kind of generic, but does it go along with the race thing? I know it'snot exclusive of, or did you have something more specific in mind now youknow I what I try to talk about in that part of the book. Can it's this notionthat love is not something you fall into as if you're, like a you, know, you'rewalking along and then something you fall into love that love is a noun that only comes alive when it is madeinto a verb when it becomes active in action. So love is something that isdemonstrable. Love is something that takes action for the sake of anotherlove is something that makes sacrifices for the sake of another. Now we canunderstand that when we talk about our own families, a lot easier right, wemean all of us hasn't made sacrifices for our children. Just ask me about mybank account and the impact that my daughter is in son have on that. Ofcourse we may it joyfully mix ace, that's a lot of wet and it's for a dad.It's the glue and education. It's the glue that holds you know, familiestogether. It's also the glue the whole society together. Is this notion oflove and sacrifice e for the sake of...

...something that is larger than yourself.So that's essentially what I'm trying to say in that part of the book. SixKids, Dr Non as at this, the Brady Bunch, but in the single marriagesituation, always something going on. It's got tobe always something going up. I tell some stories in the book about we wouldgo in Michigan. Actually, two thirds of the west coast of Michigan of a LakeMichigan is the most beautiful place on the planet. In my sure, it's idyllic,it's called Arcadia Camp Arcadia, it's a camp. We go up to there and we havedriven there- probably twenty three seasons, and I can't tell you how manytimes- and I tell a few stories in the book- I have turned around and saidwe're not going this year because you don't know how to behave in the carbehind me. I've actually pulled over and walked away from the vehiclebecause you know because of family tension right. Of course, you know. Family tension is really where it's inwith and under the ordinary stuff. This is where we kind of began ourconversation that the work gets done, that I believe God's work actually getsstuff. It's in that stuff and then thankful. What do we need tobe more thankful, for I mean we think about it at Thanksgiving. But what do you aim? I mean yeah, I mean you know. A problem we have in oursociety is the extent to which we have a whole industry dedicated to us thinking that more in life occurs when we acquire more and possessBole and- and actually this industry is often times found it on the notion that we can'tever be great too grateful. We, we can never become satisfied, that's it. Wecan never be satisfied unless we have...

...more and of course, it's an unendingchase. In that case, I think that you know so I'm an immigrant to the UnitedStates of America- and you know I wasn't born here, but I got here asquickly as I could, and I'm and I'm here because of opportunity here andask any immigrant about opportunities in the USA. Opportunities here areincomparable to the rest of the planet, and yet you know sometimes we are soincredibly dissatisfied and ungrateful, so I think it's still remind ourselveson a daytoday basis about even the small things again in with and underthe ordinary, even the small things we have, for which we give thanks the verynext breath that you can take the fact that you can take a breath. You know inthis time of Ovid we've had lots of people who weren't able to breathe sure.The very fact that you can breathe is a gift. The very fact that you have youknow a heart that beats and you have a reasonable degree of mobility. These are allthings for which we need to be grateful. Yeah, you've, seen more than I, but back to the South African experience.We reference I'll, never forget just two quick instances, one littleadorable boy that couldn't be happier to have he was all dirty. His clotheswere ripped and torn or whatever, but someone down the line or he found it.Someone had given him a toy helicopter which we would have thrown away longago. It didn't was broken. It was kind of hanging there, but he walked aroundjust showing showing everybody happiest can unners couldn't be morethankful for that, and then you know it's easy to say our kids you're notyou're, not thankful, but we're not thankful. I mean you think about thosethings that just what what we do have here. So you knowit's really it's really. It is. I think you know. The answer to that questionis something like the great banner I see you have behind you, their purposecity and that first word their purpose.

So to spend time reflecting on what ismy purpose, we know that none of us will live forever. Death is a constant companion and we all havelives that have only a allotted or limited duration and so grappling with the question of purpose and personalizing the question ofpurpose. Why am I here and what is my purpose? I think that helps us alsowith all of the questions that we've talked about on this conversation rightin his purpose. What keeps you going to keep a skip in your step? You're a phenomenal speaker if nobodyseen you in person and then they hear you're speaking at a conference someplace, they should go. You know every time I've talked to youon the phone or whatever upbeat positive, just having six kids alone, much less apresident of a univrsity where you're helping all these other parents. Kids Wall keeps you it keeps you smilingevery day. So I'm just observing you Ken, sincewe're in the exchanging of respect here. I've never had a conversation with you,sir, in which you didn't extend some kind of encouragement to me and I walkaway always from every conversation with you encouraged. So I would suggestthat maybe one of your purposes, one of your prime purposes, is this notion ofencouraging others. And you know when you encourage another person, it's gotthe word purge right on the inside of that word. You actually give themcourage to move forward in their life. I'm a person of great hope, I'm aperson of faith. I believe that life has a larger purpose, to your pointthat anything we can see or touch or taste we're more than just our DNAwe've talked about that were more than...

...just kind of a scientific materialisticreduction of you of who humans are we're more and we are defined by morethan the things and the toys that we possess. The right adult toys too. Youknow you go to Lake Michigan, you see all those adult toys on the water forsure, so so we're more than all of that, so themeant for more the journey on the men for more is first an inward journey,which is, I believe, the longest journey of all it's the internaljourney. So it's to spend time on a day to day basis. In reflection, I can dothat in the morning I get up in the morning and it's quiet and I'm it'ssober in every sense of the word and I spend time in personal reflection. Ispend time in prayer. I tend. I spend time thinking about the day and kind ofpreparing myself for the day. That is ahead. So for me you know I'm thankful for theopportunity knowing to be alive but to live in this great society and thisgreat culture that we have here in the United States of America, where socialmobility is a possibility. You you were talking about those communities youvisit in South Africa, Social Mobility and most of those communities islimited for the bottom. Eighty percent of the population, maybe for the toptwenty percent, you have an opportunity to move ahead, but for most people onour planet the status into which you're born is the status in which you willdie it's different here, and so we shouldembrace with Thanksgiving the differences that we have and then weshould figure out a way to make like different for our global neighbors agood. Thank you so much sir. It's always a pleasure appreciate your time appreciate you. Thank you. BlessingsYep, exactly wealth management, as always, is the sponsor of purpose cityand this program exemplifies our core...

...values of trust, community andcompassion. We are in a period of time of intensein continuous change. People who want to build wealth need to know that aninvestment philosophy and process is critical to any long term investmentstrategy, so clients when they're, looking at their portfolios and they're,seeing the markets move in a very negative fashion or even in a positivefashion, and we want to make sure that we're taking advantage of what themarket of doing so we're, building we're defending and were advancing thatstrategy through compassionate growth. We build defend in advance. That is thefounding principle of our investment philosophy, clients, knowing that theycan be up at one level of risk and very gradually reduced, as on a nonemotional analysis, is mathematically driving. It is based on the system thatis built for a very large community. Our team is built up with not just acouple advisers with their assistance like you'll see in a lot of offices. Wehave our investment team here in Investment Policy Committee. We haveour operations department. Here we have our compliance department. Here we havea technology department here which allows our advisors to have more directaccess which allows them to not have to jump through. As many hoops when thatjust leads to a more efficient client experience, I wanted to be part of acompany that had and fostered that team work that had regular meetings like thecase studies, the collaboration, the practice management- I saw a ton ofvalue in that being part of a team is crucial for me. I came from almosttwenty years in the banking channel. Thinking about why I came here wasspecifically to do with the way that they treat the employees as family. Wehave a great culture here. That's one of the things I really take pride in.It is about chemistry. You need people to want to be here. The fact that we'retreated so well allows me to focus and...

...other things for our clients and how Ican help them, and what I really found special about this place was that theemphasis I'm building relationships- and that is something that I've carriedinto my practice as an advisor. I want to build that plan and then obviouslyallow us to defend it, but ultimately is that peace of mind that we're inhelm advance going forward, I'm the partner to the investor. With insidethe firm, I really enjoy answering clients, questions a lot of our clientslike to read thoroughly through our disclosure documents, and they have alot of excellent questions and part of my job is to ensure that the client isinformed and has access to that information. So, if there's ever a timewhere a client has a question and if they just want to give me a call, theyare always welcome to do that. We communicate with our clients. We arefollowing up with clients when they ask questions, we want to make sure we'reproactive and doing that, and that's part of our strategy of building anddefending an advancing or our relationship. I've been working forexecutive wealth management for over ten years. I love the people that Iwork with with great clients, our clients trust us. We care about ourclients, building report folio and your retirement, defending it when it needsto be defended in difficult times and advancing it when things turn build,defend, advance schedule, an appointment to day and meet with anexecutive wealth management adviser to learn how we can build defend inadvance. You are investment future. I.

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