Thursday, March 12, 2009

Guests vs Clients

Last week, members of the City Rescue Mission staff went on a field trip to visit Mel Trotter Mission in Grand Rapids. They were very welcoming, and it was interesting to tour the facility and see the impact that ministry is making in Grand Rapids. It was also interesting to see how two ministries with so much in common can also be very different.

One of the things I found most confusing was the different "language" they spoke. They referred to men and women on their addiction/rehabilitation programs as residents. At CRM, we tend to call them program men ("men" because we don't currently have a women's program); sometimes, we just refer to them as program guys. We call anyone who uses our services, our "guests." To our neighboring Mission, they are referred to as "clients." Neither is more "right" than the other. It was just humorous how we could be talking about the same thing and not really understanding each other.

But, then again, isn't that more common than maybe we realize? Miscommunication based, not on a purposeful desire to deceive, but due simply to differing vocabularies. I don't know how many times I talk to people, and it's almost like we're speaking a foreign language because of how they are "interpreting" what I say rather than just listening. What a different place the world would be if we would try to learn our neighbors vocabulary and interpret from that, rather than judging his words against our own assumptions and world views.

"...For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

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