OK, of all of the incredible applications of technology over the last decade, one that has to be high on the list (at least for me) is the back-up camera in a car.
Two out of three of the cars in our family have them.
My car is a convertible. I love it, but when the top is up, it has one of the biggest blind spots I’ve ever seen. So, I have a standard wide-angle camera that gives a visual picture of what’s behind the car and provides the context of green, yellow and red lines to guide me.
The family car has the “uber” model of back-up camera that not only gives visual parameters of the terrain when backing up, but also employs highly irritating beeps that escalate dramatically to an ear-piercing scream if you get too close to an object behind you. Naturally, this is the car of choice for our 16 year-old daughter as she’s learning to drive.
And then, my husband’s car functions with standard rear-view mirrors and the old-school admonition to physically turn-around and look before proceeding.
So what does this have to do with leadership in ministry?
As we put this last year into the archives and forge ahead, the “rear view” analogy will hopefully remind us to pause and consider what God has allowed in our experience over the last year that, if heeded, will help us move forward with a more accurate perspective.
The simple wisdom is: regardless of your viewing method, it’s stupid to never look behind you.
I have realized that when I hop in to drive my husband’s car with no back-up camera, I am so used to the electronic assistance in the other cars, that I forget to look at all. I have to make a conscious effort to use the mirrors and turn around. As leaders, we need to consciously remind ourselves (whether we want to relive stuff or not) that over the past year there have been events, decisions and encounters we should review (both good and bad) which are waiting to reveal valuable experience and wisdom. Taking the time to ask questions like, “What could I have done differently in that situation?” and “What made that choice so effective?” will allow you to glean helpful green, yellow and red guidelines to direct your leadership in this next season of ministry.
And, if you are inexperienced, have the tendency to move forward too fast without looking behind you, or have a track record of some mishaps in the past, maybe you need to proactively use the “uber” approach to evaluate this past year. Seek out someone you trust that will give you both a picture of the terrain and auditory feedback (i.e. tell you the truth) to help you discern patterns, attitudes or approaches that may be holding you back, or keeping the ministry from flourishing.
It’s not too late to turn around and look. Work out a misunderstanding, identify a faulty process, recognize goals that weren’t reasonable, acknowledge priorities that got out of balance, realize what actions you took last year most benefited your staff and your ministry.
You and those you lead will be better for it.
Sherri Alden | Senior Leadership