My default setting is forward.
I don’t do a good job of looking at the past – in fact, my memory is absolutely terrible. When someone holds a grudge against me I always think to myself, “I wonder why?” because I don’t remember the altercation or conflict that led us there. When people talk about the good old days, I have a hard time thinking that the time I’m living in isn’t the good old days. And while there are a lot of cons to this wiring, as I was journaling this morning I thought of a couple series cons:
When you only look forward …
… you don’t appreciate the past
When all you can see is today forward, you cheapen the sacrifice of those that have come before. While this must be balanced with the temptation to dwell on the past, appreciating and respecting the history is very important. Typically this type of attitude leads to high turnover and or disgruntled people who sacrifice thier souls for the cause.
… you don’t celebrate the past
When you’re always moving forward, there is always the next big thing to tackle and have to hurriedly keep feeding the machine. Celebration needs to be an integral part of every family, team and ministry. Reflect or you just might miss it.
… you don’t learn from the past
This one is the most obvious, even a cliche in today’s world. If you don’t learn from your history, you are doomed to repeat it. There is a reason this sentence sticks around year after year. Debrief, analyze, make it better. Dont’ just rush on to the next tentpole on the youth ministry calendar.
With these learnings in mind – I’d encourage you to take a little time here at the end of the year and appreciate, celebrate and debrief the past season of ministry. Have a few round table discussion, send some thank you notes and tell God about the past … as you start to look forward again.