PurposeCity
PurposeCity

Episode · 2 months ago

16: Meant for More

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

“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 and action presented by Executive Wealth Management Guest on purpose city do not necessarilyreflected endorsement of executive wealth management. Reverend Dr John Newness, greetings, good, good, good, good day, sir. Good, near New York, correct, New York, correct, and it's from New York. Andso I yeah, I was just saying before went on. Every time Ido a podcast, no matter how prepared I am or not prepared, Ifeel just combobulated and I think you might have invented a word. recombobulated.Is that a is? That's interesting. That's interesting. I was in Mitchellairport, which is in Milwaukee, and after you go through the TSA line, and you know at TSA stands for totally slow and annoying, all right, and so that's not fair because they do great work for us. Butafter you get through the TSA line and they take off your belt and yourshoes and and whatever is in your pocket and you go through two or threetimes through the electromagnetometer and you come out on the other side in Mitchell airportin Milwaukee they've got an area and they call it the recombobulation zone. Ah, it's actually didn't make the word up, it actually comes from there. Wow, is that really it was really a word? Well, I don'tknow the word they use. Use It. They use a rockey airport. Yeah, so how do you use it? How does that fit into? SoI think I was telling you I am almost finished with your latest book. Meant for more and I knew I was meant for more before I startedit, but now I'm super convinced and about. How does it fit intohow does recombobulated fit into your worldview or what you're trying to express there?So one of the contrasts that I use in the book, and thanks,Ken for plowing your way through, is this notion that in life we willoften get discombobulated by the stressors and the...

...pressures and the fatigues and all ofthose external variables in life and the purpose of human community, the purpose ofour coming together, the purpose of good neighbors, the purposes of civic organizations, of churches and synagogues and mosques, the purpose of bringing people together isto recombobulate them so that they may be renewed in their strength and their spiritualstrength and their social strength in order to go back into the world. Thatmake a difference. So on a daily basis, what does it mean tomy life? Like all of those I agree with, it makes sense likeon a larger scale, but to me it sounds like a to do thing. I should get more involved in civic community, I should get more involvedin things going on, I should get to know my neighbors. What cansomeone do like today? A isn't life being as easy to present right?Yeah, sure, it's easy to, you know, be a Griper,it's easy to be a cynic, it's easy to be a complainer about theway things are in the world these days or the way things are in ourcommunity these days. And so what I'm kind of calling for in the bookis for us to commit ourselves to relationships, commit ourselves to those organizations. Weneed one another, probably more than we know, and our lives areformed and shaped by the people that we, on a day to day basis,connect with. You know, one of the reasons I gave the bookthe title in with the subtitle. Excuse me, the book is titled MeantFor More and the subtitle is in with and under the ordinary, and canone of the reasons I gave it. That title is because I think oftentimes we are seeking the more in the spectacular and this sensational and the moreis really found, I believe, in with and under the ordinary relationships,the ordinary duties we have as parents, as spouses, as community members,the grind and and getting ourselves kind of...

...involved in the grit of life.The Grit is where it is right the Daytoday, looking at the Daytoday,things you go through, appreciating them, finding the value in them or tryingto achieved. Eve I tried to look at one day at time. Yeah, isn't it? So? That's it. So, it's so. It's aroundrelationships of integrity. What Monique is, my wife. We have we have, we have a daughter and then we had a daughter and after thatwe had a daughter, right and then then we had a daughter and thenafter that we had a daughter and then we had a son. Six childchildren, and so you know this. This means work. You know it'sthe most important work you will do in life. Is Is, is,is family, and but it is there and it is in those ordinary dayto day relational dynamics that you kind of discover the more for whhich you aremen. That's the that's the kind of gist. So in that when youtalk about enduring, can is it the daytoday? Is it the big thingswe endure, the big tragedies in life, and or is it those enduring makingsure six kids have their lunches or going picking the right college and theother ones getting on the school bus and just enduring that day to day grindwith a positive attitude and knowing that everything is moving in a good direction andnot being burdened by the daytoday. So here's here's where I think there's twothings that are very important to have something to hope for, to know thatthe trajectory of life is heading in a direction that has meaning and purpose attachedto it, that life is just not incidental or random, but that lifehas a undergirding purpose. And then the second thing is to know again,the in with an under the ordinary that...

...woven through all of that stuff thatwears us out and tires us out, is is is in my faith tradition. It's the hand of God that is with us and working with us throughthat ordinary stuff, that that we are called in life to particular vocations thatare always attached to particular locations in the words vocation and location do more thanjust rhyme. They actually have something to do with each other. Yeah,how do you know, when you're in that day to day, when you'rehitting a place where you're flourishing? Well, that's a great question. So thisnotion of human flourishing, is it really interesting? It has, ithas sometimes in our society, I think we can reduce flourishing to the amountof treasures that you can accumulate or the amount of pleasures that you can getor the amount of power games you can win. And it is not inthough, it is not in that kind of greatness that we understand what flourishingis. That flourishing is found actually in, as we've just said, can inthe day to day, and you know it because of the small victoriesthat you have, and they actually matter bigger than the than the than thepublic rewards. You know, I've had the opportunity over my career, bothin academia and in pastoral ministry, to be with people who are sort ofat the end of their lives or at the end of their careers and tolisten carefully to what they say. has mattered and in almost every case,invariably, they will talk about relationships, of lives of others that they havetransformed or that they have sacrificed for and they made a difference and that's howthey know that their life has mattered and that flourishing matters. Right. Soin meant for more. We're all meant...

...for more, and it seems likewhat you're stating in the book that I could see from the beginning is statingto us what we think, we might think is meant for more, thethings we think are important to us, like you're stating there, at theend of life or end of careers, conversations end up not being what wethought was more. So what is it really in the human nature or ourdesires that we think are more that really end up, at the end ofthe day, being less than ye? So this is why I write thisbit can on the notion of neighboring or the word neighbors really interesting. Itmeans those who it means you're near, near dwellers, those who live nearus. And you know you're in a great metropolitan area in Detroit. I'min a metropolitan area of twenty million people in the Greater New York area,eight hundred different languages. And so we have a particular challenge in these sortsof diverse communities with people who don't walk like us or talk like us,or look like us or cooked like us, or dance like us or don't dancelike us or right and we have a particular challenge in trying to figureout how to do life together in impluralistic society. And so one of theone of the themes that I spend time with is understanding the difference can betweenkind of a tribal truth, some truth that's true for my tribe, anda transcended truth, a truth that goes beyond my own life. So I'mback to eight I'm stuck on eight hundred languages. That is phenomenal. Sowhat are they all? Eight hundred? Yeah, you got it. Okay, let me just say this, but opportunity I was president and CEO ofLutheran World Relief and International Development Agency right working in more than fifty countries aroundthe world, and one of the things I discovered is that at the endof the day, humans are humans and at the end of the day weall want sort of the same thing.

We all want to be secure andsafe from any kind of attack. We all want to be have enough foodto eat. We all want to have our children who have a future anda hope for them. So although there are eight hundred different languages in thegrid of New York area and more than that in the world, there's reallyone language. There really is one human language, and I think that there'smore that unite human persons then that divides us. I think too often canwe get really, really divided around differences that really don't make a difference.Sure, I mean it's right that our DNA as ninety nine point nine percentidentical to the rest of the human race. So it's really interesting because, youknow, within socalled races in the first place, I believe that raceitself is a fiction. Race doesn't actually exist as a category. But withinsocalled races there's actually more DNA difference to your point can then there is betweensocalled races. Right. So this is why, this is why, youknow, we are challenged in our particular part of the world with definitions ofwhat it means to be more or challenge, because we think it has to dowith that which we can accumulate or that which we can control. Butactually the more comes when we do the harder work of building not only relationshipsin our families, as I've just said, but also relationships in our communities.That, Matt, and that's what I call transcending truth, or that'sthe truth that goes beyond people, places and time. Now what is awe're kind of talking on a higher level. I like to bring back to thepractical. So for me, literally almost in my neighborhood. I mean, is it about intentionality? Of Yes, we're all in our its circles.Yeah, it's really it's two questions. It's it's first the sesame street question. Who are the people in your...

...neighbor in your neighborhood? Yeah,in your neighbor it's about knowing who your neighbor is, actually just knowing whothey are, knowing you know their name, knowing a little bit about their story. And then, as the first question and the second question, willyou be my name, rodgers, or even I got you and you whereyou were going exactly. So you know, in my faith tradition Jesus says whois my neighbor? And I think those two answers are great you know, first find out who they are. Yeah, finding their names, learntheir stories or in their histories, and you'll find out that actually there's morethat unites us and now for sure. And then the second question is whatyou be my neighbor? So just do it's with, as you say,with intentionality. Yeah, so neighboring doesn't happen like by accident. People haveto 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 life togetherwith them. And I think that's a unique opportunity we have in theUnited States of America, where we have this amazing diversity, where different individualsvalue each other regardless of skin identity, talent or years. That actually spellsdiversity. Wow. Yeah, so if you add up DNA, were ninetynine point nine percent all the same. And if it's just culture and differentupbringings that you know, I don't know if the word right is divide,but keep us separate. What we make intention to see who's in our neighborhood. Will you be my neighbor? Get Introduce Yourself, get involved in people'slives. I think people would be amazed. You've had the fortunate way more thanI, but I spend time at Third World countries. I was amazed, even with that knowledge, to be around South African children that were identicalto our children and behavior in nature and want and what makes them laugh,what makes them cry. They just have...

...a different culture, but we're exactlythe same. You just take that step to step into their world or intheir neighborhood and it's not that hard. We're not that different. It's right, Kat it's not that BRD and we're not that different. But you overcamewhatever fears you had to get on a plane and to fly, I youknow, twelve hours and to go into a place that was new and strangeto you and different. And so you didn't allow your imagination to be asource of anxiety. You let your imagination be a source of creativity. AndI actually think that's part of the issue here, is that we can getcarried away with our fear and with imagining how bad things are and what couldpossibly happen with these people who are different right, and to use that sameimagination to be creative in strategies for bringing humanity together. Yeah, and I'vebeen interested I've heard you mentioned once or twice the interesting word of minority.Yeah, yeah, minority is is a really bizarre word because if minority meansnon white, that would mean that eighty five percent of the world's population areminorities. Majority of people be minorities. So it's a really unfortunate term,I think. You know, I wish we could get rid of some ofthese length these these categories. I sometimes academically use the term minorities in themore passive so it's the people who have had kind of a minority status doneto them. But of course, when we use the term minority, weare referring to ideas about either a power imbalance or maybe, you know,financial imbalance. I notice you use the term Third World when you're describing theplate in South Africa, for example.

Interestingly, South Africa is the countrythat is on its way to becoming a first world country early many ways.Right. So, but what do we mean when we say Third World?We be, you know, nondeveloped. We mean a country that doesn't haveas much access to capital and to healthcare and to technology and to all ofthe other things that we have in the West. Right, yeah, andI think sometimes even if things change and countries progress, we tend to useterms are like I did, because that's just how we've identified those countries andit's not the right thing to do, but we just we tend to stillput into category because everybody knows what we're talking about. But well, Idon't. You know, I think anthropologically, in terms of human history, humanswere originally wired, for safety purposes, to be really, really hyperaware aboutwho was a friend, who was an enemy, who was a stranger, who was a family member, and so we have an instant Malcolm gladwell wrote a book called Blink. We have a kind of instantaneous ability toform a judgment on that person that we see. So people who say Idon't see race, that's untrue. You know, we all see what wesee. It would be like me saying can when I met my wife,who is an incredibly beautiful woman, that I did not see gender. Ofcourse I saw gender, I saw a woman. Now right, that Iknow where she's like more than a woman to me, right. But anyhow, now that I know or she's more than just that category. And sothis is why it's important to get to know people, to zoom in andget to know them, because when you get to know people, you cometo realize that, as you've stated, there's more that unites us. It'snot whether or not you see race, it's what you do with what yousee, because at the end of the day, race is a fiction,but racism is a fact, and racism has to do with US making judgmentsabout others based on some imagination that we have about who they are or whatthey might must represent. Right, yeah,...

...in imagination, in addition to indoctrination, right by, yes, the culture around us, by the culturearound the cultural imagination. Even sure, sure, the group think sort ofhappening, so is does a loving more and politician and politicians who, Ithink, in many cases keep us divided because you know, the more youdivide, the more votes you can win. It's right. Well, I trynot to say that's right on this, for I just I just listen.Yeah, right, if us don't necessarily represents just listening to what youthink. So when you talk about loving more, you know stating that,you go into detail. It sounds kind of generic, but does it goalong with the race thing? I know it's not exclusive of or did youhave something more specific in mind? Now you know I what I try totalk about in that part of the book. Can it's this notion that love isnot something you fall into as if you're like a you know, you'rewalking along and then sudden you fall into love, that love is a nounthat only comes alive when it is made into a verb, when it becomesactive in action. So love is something that is demonstrable. Love is somethingthat takes action for the sake of another. Love is something that makes sacrifices forthe sake of another. Now we can understand that when we talk aboutour own families, a lot easier, right. I mean, I mean, who of us hasn't made sacrifices for our children? Just ask me aboutmy bank account and the impact that my daughters and son have on that.Of course we make would joyfully makes up. That's a lot of what and it'sThe for a dad. It's the glue and education. It's the gluethat holds, you know, families together. It's also the glue that holds societytogether. Is this notion of love and sacrifice for the sake of somethingthat is larger than yourself. So that's...

...essentially what I'm trying to say inthat part of the book six kids like Don in us, that this theBrady Bunch. But in the single marriage situation, always something going on.It's got to be always something going on. I tell some stories in the bookabout we would go in Michigan. Actually, two thirds up the westcoast of Michigan off of Lake Michigan is the most beautiful place on the planetin my picure. It's idyllic. It's called Arcadia, Camp Arcadia. It'sa camp. We go up to there and we have driven there probably twentythree seasons and I can't tell you how many times, and I tell afew stories in the book, I have turned around and said we're not goingthis year because you don't know how to behave in the car behind me.I've actually pulled over and walked away from the vehicle because, you know,because of family tension. Right, of course you know. Family tension isreally where it's in with an under the ordinary stuff. This is where wekind of began our conversation that the work gets done, that I believe God'swork actually gets done. It's in that stuff. And then thankful. Whatdo we need to be more thankful for? I mean we think about it atThanksgiving. But what do you have? I mean, I mean, yeah, I mean you know, a problem we have in our society isthe extent to which we have a whole industry dedicated to us thinking that morein life occurs when we acquire more and possess more. And and actually thisindustry is often times founded on the notion that we can't ever be great,too grateful. We we can never become satisfied. That's it. We cannever be satisfied unless we have more,...

...and of course it's an unending chasein that case, I think that you know. So I'm an immigrant tothe United States of America and you know, I wasn't born here, but Igot here as quickly as I could and I'm and I'm here because ofopportunity here, and ask any immigrant about opportunities in the USA. Opportunities hereare incomparable to the rest of the planet. And yet, you know, sometimeswe are so incredibly dissatisfied and ungrateful. So I think it's to remind ourselveson a day to day basis about even the small things, again,in with and under the ordinary, even the small things we have, forwhich we give thanks the very next breath that you can take, the factthat you can take a breath. You know, in this time of Covidwe've had lots of people who weren't able to breathe. Sure the very factthat you can breathe is is a gift. The very fact that you have,you know, a heart that beats and you have in a reasonable degreeof mobility, these are all things for which we need to be greatful.Yeah, you've seen more than I, but back to the South African experiencewe've reference, I'll never forget just two quick instances. One little adorable boythat couldn't be happier to have. He was all dirty, as clothes wereripped and torn or whatever, but someone's down the line, or he foundit, someone had given him a toy helicopter, which we would have thrownaway long ago. It didn't was broken. It was kind of hanging there,but he walked around just showing, showing everybody. Happiest can on ears. Couldn't be more thankful for that. And you know it's easy to sayour kids you're not you're not thankful, but we're not thankful. If youthink about those things, that just what we what we do have here asso so you know it's really, it's, really it is. I think youknow the answer to that question is something like the great banner I seeyou have behind you. Their purpose, city and that first were their purpose. So to spend time reflecting on what...

...is my purpose? We know thatnone of us will live forever. Death is a constant companion and we allhave lives that have only allotted or limited duration. And so grappling with thequestion of purpose and personalizing the question of purpose, why am I here?You know what is my purpose? I think that helps us all. Sowith all of the questions that we've talked about on this conversation, right andhis purpose? What keeps you going, to keep us skip in your step? You're a phenomenal speaker. If nobody seen you in person and then theyhear you're speaking of a conference, some place they should go. You know, every time I've talked to you on the phone or whatever, upbeat,positive. Just having six kids alone, much less president of a university whereyou're helping all these other parents kids. What keeps you, what keeps yousmiling every day? So I'm just observing you can, since we're in theexchanging 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 walk awayalways from every conversation with you encouraged. So I would suggest that maybe oneof your purposes, one of your prime purposes, is this notion of encouragingothers. And you know, when you encourage another person, it's got theword courage right on the inside of that word. You actually give them courageto move forward in their life. I'm a person of great hope. I'ma person of faith. I believe that life has a larger purpose, toyour point, than anything we can see or to much or taste. We'remore than just our DNA. We've talked about that. We're more than justkind of a scientific materialistic reduction of hugh...

...of who humans are. We're more. We and we are defined by more than the things and the toys thatwe possessed their I. Adult Toys to you know, you go to LakeMichigan, you see all those at out toys on the water, for sure. So so we're more than all of that. So the ment for more, the journey on the men for more is first an inward journey, whichis, I believe, the longest journey of all. It's the internal journey. So it's to spend time on a day to day basis in reflection.I tend to do that in the morning. I get up in the morning andit's quiet and I'm it's sober in every sense of the word, andI spend time in personal reflection. I spend time in prayer, I tendI spend time thinking about the day and kind of preparing myself for the daythat is ahead. So for me, you know, I'm thankful for theopportunity not only 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 you visit inSouth Africa. Social Mobility and most of those communities is limited for the bottomeighty percent of the population. Maybe from the top twenty percent you have anopportunity to move ahead. Right, but for most people on our planet,the status into which you're born is the status in which you will die.It's different here, and so we should embrace with Thanksgiving the differences that wehave and then we should figure out a way to make like different for ourglobal neighbors. Very good. Thank you so much, sir. It's alwaysa pleasure appreciate your time. Appreciate you. Thank you. Blessings. Yep.Second Wealth Management, as always, is the sponsor of purpose city andthis program exemplifies our core values of trust,...

...community and compassion. We are ina period of time of intense, in continuous change. People who wantto build wealth need to know that an investment philosophy and process is critical toany long term investment strategy. So clients, when they're looking at their portfolios andthey're seeing the markets move, and in very negative fashion or even ina positive fashion, and we want to make sure that we're taking advantage ofwhat the market to doing. So we're building, we're defending them. We'readvancing that strategy through compassionate growth. We build defend in advance. That isthe founding principle of our investment philosophy. Clients no wing that they can beup at one level of risk and very gradually reduced tas on a non emotionalanalysis. Is mathematically driven. It is based on a developed system that isbuilt for a very large community. Our team is built up of not justa couple advisors for their assistants, like you'll see in a lot of offices. We have our investment team here in Investment Policy Committee. We have ouroperations department here, we have our compliance department here, we have a technologydepartment here, which allows our advisors to have more direct access, which allowsthem to not have to jump through as many hoops. From that just leadsto a more effishing client experience. I wanted to be part of a companythat had and fostered that team work, that had regular meetings like the casestudies, the collaboration, the practice management. I saw a ton of value onthat. Being part of a team is crucial for me. I camefrom almost twenty years in the banking channel. Thinking about why I came here wasspecifically to do with the way that they treat the employees as family.We have a great culture here. That's one of the things I really takepride in. It is about chemistry. You need people to want to behere. The fact that we're treated so well allows me to focus on otherthings for our clients and how I can...

...help them, and what I reallyfound special about this place was that emphasis on building relationships and that is somethingthat I've carried into my practice as an advisor. I want to build thatplan and then obviously allow us to defend it, but ultimately is that peaceof mind that we're going to help them advance going forward. I'm the partnerto the investor withinside the firm. I really enjoy answering clients questions. Alot of our clients like to read thoroughly through our disclosure documents and they havea lot of excellent questions and part of my job is to ensure that theclient is informed and has access to that information. So if there's ever atime where a client has a question and if they just want to give mea call, they are always welcome to do that. We communicate with ourclients. We are following up with clients when they ask questions. We wantto make sure we're proactive in doing that and that's part of our strategy ofbuilding and defending and advancing or our relationship. I've been working for executive wealth managementfor over ten years. I love the people that I work with,with great clients. Our clients trust us. We care about our clients. Buildingyour portfolio and your retirement, defending it when it needs to be defendedin difficult times and advancing it when things turn build, defend, advance.Schedule an appointment today and meet with an executive wealth management advisor to learn howwe can build, defend and advance your investment future.

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