The Days Ahead
The measure of our success is not whether we can predict the future but how prudently we prepare for it. The world may be uncertain but we do not need to share in that uncertainty. The prayer of King Solomon, noted in the Biblical book of First Kings, chapter 8, verses 56-58, offers some solid counsel on how to link the past, present and future for a more certain view of the days ahead. They serve as a good reminder of how all these time lines are linked.
Here are five behaviors that we can use in the days ahead to make sure we are optimizing all of the opportunities around us:
1. Establish Good Contacts
People often seem lucky because of the type of people with whom they associate. They have learned the benefit of having solid contacts. The people you are around will have a lot to say about how you see the days ahead. Like your reading habits, the people you are with will have a lot to do with making you the type of person you are. Be an avid reader and be careful about your associations. It is likely that somewhere within the group you spend time with is a person that you would like to be like.
2. Use Your Discernment
Some people might even use the world hunch instead of discernment, but all a hunch is, is a conclusion based on real data. Discernment is using the power of observation, experience, knowledge and familiarity. In the Greek, discernment is far less mysterious that many in the church would like to make it. It suggests judicial estimation, to test, examine or to separate thoroughly (Matthew 16:3). If you want to lessen the uncertainty of the days ahead, develop your ability to properly discern what is in front of you and how it fits in relation to the past, future and the here and now.
3. Act Boldly
People that are bold see the opportunity and seize it, but they know the difference between boldness and rashness. Those that are bold in God know that there are a lot of uncertainties, but they never use that as an excuse; they are the people that get things done. Truly bold people are so because they are not double-hearted or minded. Of course, this is one of the biggest factors in the potential success of the days ahead. The antonym of boldness might be instability and the book of James makes it clear that a double hearted person is evidenced to be so because they are unstable in everything (James 1:8).
4. Understand the Ratchet Effect
A ratchet wrench helps you to move forward without losing ground. It helps us make necessary adjustments for the next effort without having to retrace or redo our steps. This relates to the ability to get out of bad situations quickly. Everything that comes our way is not a worthwhile endeavor though it may seem to be so at the time. There is a saying that goes, “If you are losing a tug-of-war with a tiger, give him the rope before he gets to your arm. You can always buy another rope.” Writer Paul J. Hastings wrote that, “It isn’t the burdens of today that drive men mad, but rather regret over yesterday and fear of tomorrow. Regret and fear are twin thieves who would rob us of today.”
5. Get and Stay Real
While we anticipate great things for the days ahead, we have to also realize that there will be some very real obstacles. It may be that reality is appreciating a range of outcomes, so that we are never surprised by the worst case result. Jesus’ most challenging moment may have come in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46). It was very real moment for Him. He knew the glorious possibilities, but He also knew that it would cost something to see them fully deployed. Making sure your testimony is believable and convincing is the greatest mixture of the ideal and the real.
This column is the opinion of Dr. M. Hildon Guy, President of the University of Christian Studies & Seminary in Eagle River (www.universityofcss.org).