Connect, Lead, Equip: What Does it Look Like to be Optimistic as a Leader?
“Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,” (Philippians 3:13, ESV).
This verse gives us a strategic operational principle for living life. Don’t live in the past. Look forward to the future. It doesn’t matter whether our past was good or bad, if we let it control us today it will keep us from what God has for us tomorrow. The past needs to be kept where it belongs… in the past. Author John Mason said, “Rosy thoughts about the future can’t exist when your mind is full of the blues about the past.”1
We are to look forward , “reaching” or stretching to what lies ahead. This enables us to remain optimistic, set an example of optimism, and encourage others to follow suit.
Look at the following story shared by Glenn C. Stewart (author and LifeEquip founder)….
“My dad was a carpenter, truck driver turned preacher. He came up with little sayings and phrases that were like slogans that would stick in people’s minds. One of the ones my kids remember and often bring up when we talk about him is, ‘You need to live with an air of expectancy.’ That was his slogan. You need to look forward to what God can and will do that is beyond the confining limits of today. And he didn’t say it because life was easy for him. He grew up with an alcoholic father who he said he wouldn’t dignify with the term alcoholic because he was really a drunk. He totally neglected his wife and children. My dad joined the Navy at age 17 in 1941 and his first assignment was Pearl Harbor. That wasn’t great timing. All during the war his Navy pay was being sent home and he thought the money was being held for him, but when the war ended and he got to San Francisco and asked for the money to be sent, he was told there wasn’t any. His father drank it all up. So, my dad hitchhiked and hopped trains all the way across the country from California to Massachusetts.
He educated himself, getting up early in the morning to read, study, and understand the Bible. Then after serving in a church doing whatever needed to be done, the pastor encouraged him to become a pastor. In a little church in Canada he started a pastoral ministry that lasted more than forty years. And he was always looking ahead. He never saw a challenge that wasn’t an opportunity and he worked hard believing that God was going to do great things. He loved to laugh and have fun and wanted other people to laugh. He was the life of the party when people got together. Recently, I unpacked some of his boxes and found a bunch of crazy hats, wigs, plastic fingers and hands, and even some of that plastic vomit, that was all part of his silliness. He loved life and he learned that dwelling on yesterday, could depress you and defeat you in living and enjoying today. But looking ahead gives you hope.”
The ultimate hope that lies ahead for followers of Jesus Christ is that He will come again and will set everything right that is wrong with this world. This is the optimism we need to hold in our hearts spiritually. If we do, we’ll be able to think positively and look forward as we show Christ’s love in whatever our jobs or ministries demand of us such as overseeing community outreach, serving customers, operations, and more.
- John Mason, Seize Today: How Asking the Right Questions Will Change Your Life (Grand Rapids: Baker Publishing Group, 2018).