In business, ministry, or life in general, properly understanding the relationship between the past, the present and the future is essential to achieving our maximum potential for the future.
There is a way in which each is related to the other. The future is unavoidably built upon the past and the present. There is also a way in which each stands on its own.
The future may be richer or poorer, but it will always be different from the present or the past because life is dynamic, not static. Each era is unique, forcing change upon an organization and its relationship with others even if by default.
Our response to change will bring either life or death. A static organization in a dynamic world will die. It may continue to exist but its "life" will be gone. Its eyes will be sunken and hollow.
Politics and economics (world/national/local/organizational), and the availability of various resources will shape a period. The measure and focus of vision; the style of leadership; and the needs or opportunities the organization is responding to are dynamic factors which shape its life.
In order to plan well for the future we need to objectively look at the present and the past. What served us well in the past may be inappropriate for the future. Some years ago a 150-meg hard drive was big and a "gig" was unheard of. Consider how much that has changed!
Frequently, when change is proposed it is interpreted as a negative judgment upon the past. Persons who have shaped the past may feel they are being declared personally inadequate. Those who have inappropriately found their sense of personal identity and self worth in past structures and successes will be especially threatened.
Sometimes we feel secure in the safety of doing things as we have always done them. We fear change because it places our perceived future at risk. And it does, because change always brings risk. But is the past something to be protected and defended, or is it a stepping stone to the future?
We need to ask ourselves if the strategies and successes of the past or present are adequate for the future. Is there more we can be doing? Can we do it more efficiently, effectively or safely? Are new resources available? Have conditions and needs around us changed? Is it "a new day" in some way?
If we decide to move on, we must proceed with the humility, wisdom, and courage that enable us to: