by Clarence Bradbury
(For a transformational experience in vision discernment, consider joining us in Laguna Beach, Fla., April 22-25, 2013. See link below)
It’s January – time to look backward and forward. Soëren Kierkegaard once said, Life can only be understood backwards but it must be lived forwards. With each passing year, we may become obsessed with our mistakes and failures and we may also be quite pleased with the successes that came our way. Reflecting on our personal journey is a healthy and essential practice for achieving and sustaining clear vision for the future. Isn’t it true that the past gives us limitless fuel for innovation? Realizing that failure is not final, we reflect on the bad times, extract from them the lessons locked within, then apply new wisdom to our present opportunity and future potential.
This is a biblical approach to life and leadership. Throughout the bible we see a seamless thread of remembrance. One of the strongest warnings is against forgetfulness and one of the most compelling commands is to remember. The great festivals of God’s chosen people revolved around the concept of remembrance – the Sabbath, the Covenants, the Passover and many other feast days. God called His people to remembrance so that they would carefully move forward in the light of what they had already experienced. Finding a clear and compelling vision for the future requires complete honesty about the past. As leaders, we cannot afford to simply let bygones be bygones. Developing leadership vision through a pathway of thoughtful reflection is a ROAD worth taking. The ROAD is marked by Reality, Opportunity, Action and Destiny.
Reality – Taking a good look in the rear view mirror of our lives can bring new revelation for the future. While dwelling on the past is destructive, learning from the past is useful and necessary. What we learn from reflection may sometimes be new, but more often it’s a matter of re-learning. Mark Twain said, what we need is not new insights; what we need is what we already know. We are created with a capacity to reflect on our lives. God has enabled us to learn from the past, especially from the broken places, and to assimilate the truths He wants to impart. This is the essence of wisdom – to be motivated by truth and not simply immobilized by facts. Facts can be attested, but truth must be discerned. With discernment, we see things as they really are, we see time under the illumination of eternity because He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart. (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
Opportunity – Having a compelling vision is God’s gift to us. Owning, pursuing and sharing that vision is our gift to God. A God-inspired vision is an open door to new possibilities. We need not be surprised if new opportunities arise after we embrace the vision God sparks within us. As part of God’s calling on our lives, vision becomes a stewardship and sacred obligation. It creates honesty about the present and hope for the future. It provides new perspective on our lives. We comprehend the connection between our purpose for living, the core values that drive us and the direction toward which they point. We embrace many of life’s little coincidences as heaven-sent opportunities.
Action – God-given vision usually does not come all at once. Our leadership lesson this month compares the stages of vision to the developmental stages of a baby, from conception to birth. Awareness of a divinely-inspired vision can emerge as simply an idea which, over time, grows into a deep passion. I think it is important that we take action each step of the way, if we want God’s vision for our lives to mature and intensify. New insight follows new obedience to revelation we have already received.
Destiny – We believe that when God crated us, He had something specific in mind concerning our destiny. Sure, our ultimate destination is to be with Jesus and live forever in His immediate presence. But before that happens, a long obedience in the right direction enables us to make our ultimate contribution in life and leadership. Focused living is the key. I love The Message paraphrase of Philippians 3: 13-14 where St Paul says, Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back. Paul lived on purpose throughout His life in Christ. He was crystal clear about God’s forward and upward calling. He saw things for what they really were. He grasped the opportunities God placed on his pathway. He was no passive clock-puncher. In Philippians 3:12 he testifies to an aggressive pursuit of God’s destiny for him – I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me.
Being vigilant to learn from our current reality, to discern our heaven-sent opportunities and to obey the inner voice of divine guidance, we too may make the ultimate contribution God intends for our lives.
When you reach the finish line of your life, what will make it clear to all that your ROAD was worth taking? What will be your enduring legacy?
The SLD Annual Leadership cohort experience takes place at a Christian beachfront retreat center. For 2013, we have expanded eligibility to include our Christian employees in leadership positions, as well as congregational leaders and others. For details visit us at http://missionmover.org/?page_id=1834. Call or e-mail us at the links provided.