In mid-April I will join a team of four others to travel to China. We’ll be there a little over one week. Some of the time will be spent doing typical tourist things, but the majority of our time will be spent with others in rural areas far away from tourist spots. We may well be walking some distance once we reach a village to get to our final destination. We’ve been told to expect to get dirty and to have conditions we aren’t accustomed to back in our comfortable Louisville homes. We’ll be immersed among people who make the equivalent of maybe $200-300 per year.
I’ve spent a little time in a few other countries through the years, but I’ve never been to China or any Asian country. It will be new territory geographically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I don’t know yet exactly how my time there will change me, but I fully expect it to.
My wife and I always considered travel to be one of if not the best education anyone can receive. We deliberately encouraged travel opportunities for our sons. Travel has a way of teaching what textbooks cannot and doing so in a way that makes a lasting impact accompanied by the bonus of permanent memories and stories.
When pastor David Platt wrote the book Radical, he suggested several actions for the readers. One of them is “Spend time in another context.” That might just mean another part of town that you’re scared of or another state or, in my case, the other side of the world.
While Platt’s “Radical Experiment” is related to Christian missions, the value of this suggestion holds true in other contexts as well. Business leaders do well to visit other businesses to observe their practices and exchange ideas. Employees get recharged and engaged by switching roles or temporarily rotating between different roles and departments. The exposure to another context inevitably teaches us something about our own context and about ourselves. Hopefully, it makes us appreciate both environments or cultures a little more.
As you plan the rest of 2012, consider how can you implement leap year lesson #32 – Spend time in another context.