Enjoying a dose of natural vitamin “D” in January in an equipping environment seemed like a great idea for body and soul. I never imagined that I would learn so much about carrying a cross on a cruise.

Cruises Make Sense

In 2014 I co-chaired a task force assigned to rally pastors from some of Canada’s largest churches in a conference setting. Someone suggested facilitating our meetings on a Caribbean cruise. After some initial resistance we agreed that the idea made cents.

A 5-day cruise was equal in cost to a 5-day stay at a Toronto-area hotel.

Before you could say, “Belize it or not” forty of us were on our way to Central America with Royal Caribbean. By the end of our on-board Conference we had a boat-load of reasons to navigate future gatherings the same way.

The experience was one of the most uplifting, enlightening and fulfilling conferences we’ve attended.

Trooper In A Black Dress

Jocelyn and I began our first cruise with the clothes on our backs and a pair of borrowed sandals. Our airline (the one with the nice red maple leaf) lost our luggage. The cruise-wear given to Jocelyn at Christmas by her family and grand-daughters sat somewhere in baggage claim on some distant shore.

All she had in her carry-on was a long black dress…perfect for the Captain’s formal dinner but not much else.

For the first three days of cruising the Royal customer service team and our friends kept us from drowning in despair. We were given t-shirts, shorts, sandals, empathy and hope. Turns out, cruising without luggage is a common hazard.

Jocelyn was a trooper. That’s what everybody on the cruise said.

Cruises Lessons

Cruising provided multiple opportunities for extended conversations over leisurely breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack times. We made new friendships with pastoral couples from Carlisle, Saskatchewan and Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Peer-to-peer learning from seasoned practitioners – leaders a few steps ahead of where you may be – affords insight, inspiration and support.

And we learned that five-day cruises can mean a minimum of five extra pounds. When it came to the on-board buffets we realized that “just because you can doesn’t you mean you should.”  We took eight flights of stairs rather than the elevator to our three daily meals, walked miles on the upper deck, swam in the pool and the ocean.

As a result there were no gains to our girth and we improved our health.

Life’s Crosses

My best insight came from a colleague who was being transitioned out of the church he served in as lead pastor for twenty five plus years. He learned a hard lesson that kept the transition from being a lost year of his life.

When you have “a cross” to carry follow these steps:

Wake up.

Get up.

Wash your face.

Anoint your head.

Smile.

Resist the urge to tell other people about the cross you are bearing.

Don’t ask for pity.

Repeat everyday as long as necessary.

Follow this advice and you’ll cruise through life – even when carrying a cross.

APPLICATION: Let me know if the above lesson resonates with you and how it is helpful. Please leave a comment below. Thank you.


Hope grows here. I write to share stories that inspire people, build faith in Jesus, and offer lasting purpose. If this material is helpful to you, please follow me.

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Bob Jones

Author Bob Jones

Pastor at North Pointe Community Church for 28 years. Happily married to Jocelyn for 39 years. We have two adult sons, Cory and his wife Lynsey and their son Vinnie and daughter Jayda; Jean Marc and his wife Angie and their three daughters, Quinn, Lena and Annora. I love being a pastor and inspiring faith in Jesus through communicating, blogging, counseling and coaching. I enjoy running, reading, writing and ball hockey. Fan of the Esks and Pats. Follow me on Twitter @bobjones49ers

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