A Reminder About Future Thinking

The larger role of responsibility or the higher position you hold in an organization, the more you must discipline and free yourself for future-tense thinking. Recently I was explaining this concept to a senior pastor. His church has stalled, but it wasn’t surprising to me as I learned more about the church. They are doing things the same way they’ve done them for many years. Nothing has changed. The pastor is busy; some would say too busy, but, in my observation, while he’s working hard, he’s not working smart.

The real problem? This leader is so caught up in putting out current fires, that he doesn’t have time…or hasn’t taken time…to plan for new and better fire extinguishers.  He’s not thinking “What’s next?” for the church and because he’s not, neither is anyone else. I took a minute to draw it out like this diagram. The ratios aren’t important, but what is important is that you understand the concept. The more the organization looks to you for leadership, the more you must be thinking future-tense.

Think of it this way. The now that was when you started reading this post is now the then. If you aren’t thinking forward, you’re always thinking behind. Also, some will ask about “past thinking”. It is important to consider where the organization has been, but thinking about the past should be part of reviewing for improvement and growth in the future.

Any questions?

Have you seen an organization stall because the leader stalls?

If this is your situations, let me suggest you read 8 Ways to Keep a Leader Looking Forward or 3 Critical Aspects of Planning for the Future.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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8 thoughts on “A Reminder About Future Thinking

  1. Thanks for reposting this, Ron!

    I think you captured the necessary balance between Future Thinking and remembering the past.

    According to StrengthsFinder, two of my strengths are Strategic (future thinking) and Context (thinking about the past). Unlike many leaders I know, I don't find these dimensions contradictory at all.

    I think successful churches, like all successful endeavors, need to embrace their history, warts and all. Remembering the great accomplishments both lends courage for today and reminds us and reinforces in us the whole reason we do what we do. Properly viewed, remembered, and evaluated, the past can be a dynamic springboard to a wildly successful future.

    I think it's a matter of your mindset.

    Some people think of the past and get stuck in the amber trap of the good old days. And they seem somehow older. Even bitter.

    Some people remember the exploits of their past and become young again. Re-energized. Ready for a better-than-ever future.

    And ready to embrace new ways of thinking and doing. Some of which, by the way, are simply the old ways in a new wrapper!