To summarize is to use fewer words to encompass the whole of the previous message.
If we were to summarize our leadership in a few words, what would we say? Could we express it in a word or two, or a sentence or two? Would our leadership be summarized by…
An “others-interested” or “self-interested” perspective?
A spiritual or physical focus?
Our past, present, or future?
In reality, the fewer words we use the more challenging it can be to summarize our leadership.
It is worth our time to think about summarizing our leadership.
Tonight, our world closes the chapter on one year and turns the page to another that is new, untarnished, clean, pure, and open to all God has in store for us.
Tonight, most people will make resolutions related to their physical health and well-being. However, we need an emphasis on our spiritual health and well-being, especially as we lead into the vast new year ahead.
Now is the time.
Now is all we know with certainty.
Reflect on the past year, but look ahead into the new with a motivation to act, to lead now!
This statement deals with more than just “seeing” God. What exactly is involved? Consider a little background.
We must consider where we have been. Consider the past year. What mistakes were made? What successes were enjoyed? Was God part of the equation?
We must also consider where we are right now. Are we where we need to be at this time? Will this place provide a basis for where we need to go? Is God part of the equation?
Now we can formulate plans on where to go from here. Seeing God’s part in our past and present allows us to see His hand in our future.
If God is not part of the equation, we do not have a clear vision!
We often view the past with great fondness.
We may look to the past with regret over words or actions we cannot change.
We also learn from the past with hope of greater opportunities for the future.
Our leadership must focus on the future. We do not lead people where they have been, but where they need to go.
Paul knew the regret of words and actions from his past, but he chose to focus on what lies ahead.
We, too, must remember the work of spiritual leadership. When it comes to the past, acknowledge it, learn from it, and leave it where it is. Focus on the future.
Far too many believe they cannot overcome their past. The mistakes and, at times, successes experienced tend to consume the whole of one’s focus.
When this happens, we are blinded to a better way of moving forward, because we cannot think about anything but the past. We remain stuck and stagnant to greater growth possibilities.
Remember, past successes or failures do not define us and the future is determined by how we direct today. Consider this:
Today, I am all in.
Today, I will live holy.
Today, I will change the future.
What would we change if we had a chance to do it over? How would we fill in the blank?
Would we change our words? Attitude? Actions?
There are two truths about our past: We cannot live in it and we cannot change it.
The way we approach this thought plays a significant role in our leadership.
As spiritual leaders, we must learn from the past and make the changes we need to make in the present. Upon making these changes we can move forward.
Never excuse or justify mistakes. Instead, acknowledge a change needs to be made and make it.
It is not the past we need to change, but the future. Whatever change comes to mind, now is the time to fill it in and change our course.
The movie industry is interesting. Take it or leave it, some in the world cannot imagine what it would be like without movies. Personally, it would be interesting to see the world without the movie industry, but this is a post for another time.
A prequel refers to the stories or events preceding an existing work. The idea is fascinating and raises several thoughts connected to leadership.
However, the sequel involves what shows up as part two of an earlier “box office sensation.” The sequel is about what happens next.
Prior to assuming responsibilities in our present work, what events were connected to the story in our lives? The foundational nature of these events has been instrumental in forming who we are today.
The question we may need to consider further is: what are we expecting to happen next? Have we determined the appropriate sequel to where we are now?
Wisdom is built upon remembering the past to understand the present, but vision is cast to prepare for the sequel in our leadership. What do we see?
Endurance is never needed when life is good. We need endurance during the times when life does not deliver up to our expectations.
During those difficult times, we experience a range of emotions and thoughts. The initial mindset moves us to consider how we can abandon ship. We begin to think that if we could just quit, somehow everything would return to normal or get better. However, you and I both know it does not work that way.
Although the author is unknown, an interesting thought was expressed in the following statement, “The past is where you learned the lesson. The future is where you apply the lesson. Don’t give up in the middle!”
The idea is really simple: endure. When leadership experiences those moments of trial and difficulty, hang on and do not give up. Think about the adage, “If God brings us to it, He will see us through it.”
Never lose sight of that middle section. In the future, we will apply the lessons learned in the past, but between the past and future is where we need to endure.
Numerous challenges exist when we consider the past. We cannot change the past, and we cannot go back and relive it, so why dwell on the events of it?
We have heard the thought expressed, “if we do not learn from the past, we are doomed to repeat it.” Several versions of similar wording exist, but the thought is the same. We must allow the past to provide us with a tool by which we learn. The beauty of the past is represented when we learn from it and implement ways to prevent repeating failures and build on the success experienced.
As we approach the end of another year, leaders at every level should closely examine the past year and evaluate what can be learned from both the good and bad, successes and failures. Ultimately, the result produces a plan for the year ahead that ensures greater achievement and spiritual growth for each person connected.
A few remaining days in 2016 afford us an opportunity to bring in the new year with a renewed sense of purpose for the year ahead.
Scripture clearly indicates that all spiritual blessings are found in Christ (Ep. 1:3). As we conclude this week of thanksgiving, we want to take a moment to consider a few of these spiritual blessings.
Forgiveness of the past: The word translated forgiveness is unique. The idea is summed up as “sent away.” When God forgives our sin, He sends it away. As David wrote, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Ps. 103:12).
Strength in the present: While the arsenal needed to get through this life includes listening to God (study) and speaking with God (prayer), the promise of His strength keeps us focused. This is how we learn contentment, as Paul identified, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).
Hope for the future: Realizing the two blessings listed, we are thankful for the hope Christ provides of something that awaits us when we reach the end of our journey on earth. Jesus provided this hope through His death and resurrection. Take a moment to read John 14:1-6.
For these we give thanks.