Restoring Our Future & Expanding Our Vision
April showers bring May flowers…you may remember that old saying. Some things we can predict with a high degree of accuracy but not very many...as Paul said, "Now we see dimly." There have been some famous miscalculations over the years. Anyone remember the catastrophe which was "New Coke"?
One of my favorite horrible predictions about the future involved human creativity. In 1889, Charles H. Duell was the Commissioner of the US patent office. Reflecting on his office issuing the 500th patent, he predicted that the patent office would soon shrink in size, and eventually close. According to his assessment, "everything that can be invented has been invented." Today, that office has issued well over 10,000,000 patents.
We can look at his prediction and think, "Wow, was he ever wrong." But being able to sense the future is a valuable leadership skill in any time but especially these days. Charles Duell's words make me reflect on what ideas or assumptions am I making that is holding myself or the church back because my view of the future is too narrow? Charles Duell couldn't imagine the creativity of the human spirit…what are the limits of your imagination?
Interestingly it took 155 years, from 1836 to 1991, for the United States to issue its first 5 million patents. It took just 27 years to issue the next 5 million. There is an ancient curse that says "may you live in interesting times" and it has come true for us. This is it - the most interesting time in human history. As philosopher Jean Houston often reflects, "You and I are living 10 to 100 times the life experiences of our ancestors just one or two generations before." Every day our lives reflect a quantum leap in complexity, innovation, and experience. A year ago who would have predicted we would all be Zooming!
So, what shall we do with this moment of opportunity? How shall we prepare? The first Sunday of 2021 I said the word for the year was RESTORE. We want to restore hope and love and possibility in people's lives this year, as the title to this little reflection suggests we want to restore the future. So how do we prepare for this new future?
Our task is to do the essential work of expanding our vision, our consciousness, of ourselves and our world. We need to tap into God's Spirit daily and look for how God is moving in and around us and then get on board with that movement of the Spirit. The prophet Joel predicted a future with God's Spirit leading the way:
Then afterward I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.
- Joel 2:28
These are interesting times and the future depends on YOU. God's Spirit has fallen on YOU. The future is waiting on US. We are the dreamers, leaders, future makers and inventors. We need only tap into God's Spirit and see ourselves for who you truly are and for what has always been true.
Dream on and restore the future! You are God's Dreamakers.
PS: The CEO who launched "new Coke" soon realized he had made a huge mistake. They had been losing market share and so he tried something daring to RESTORE COKE'S FUTURE. However, it failed…or did it? He immediately made a course correction and they re-launched "old Coke" calling it Coke Classic and the sales of "old Coke" now "Coke Classic" grew way beyond its old sales records and they took market share away from Pepsi. Seeing the future sometimes means being willing to take risks, make mistakes, and then learn from them. Coke became bigger and better precisely because of their CEO's willingness to risk it all for a better future. Now that is creative leadership!