Leaders have the daily challenge of maintaining perspective and doing what matters in the long-term. It is not about what others demand we do now or what seems most pressing in the moment. We must lead with our hands on today’s plow, but our eyes fixed on tomorrow’s horizon.
My daily Bible reading has recently taken me through the life of Joseph (Genesis 37-50). His tumultuous life ultimately produced a long-term perspective on his problems and opportunities. His story culminates in two pronouncements. The first was to his brothers who had sold him into slavery – “You planned evil against me; God planned it for good….” The second, not as well-known, was to his descendants about their ultimate deliverance from Egypt – “God will certainly come to your aid and bring you up from this land to the land he swore to give to Abraham… (and) when God comes to your aid, you are to carry my bones up from here.”
Joseph understood circumstances are not always what they seem. What’s painful in the short run is often beneficial in the long-term. Decisions must be made based on God’s promises and long-term plans, not just what’s expedient in the moment. Those are hard lessons to learn and tough choices to make when facing the daily demands of leadership. The tyranny of the urgent – the loudest voice in a meeting, the most controversial media posts, a cluttered inbox – all scream, “I am your priority.” Leaders know better.
To help you gain perspective on what really matters, think about these questions:
- What did I do (or fail to do) ten years ago that still matters today?
- Who was in my life ten years ago that still matters to me?
- What difficult event happened in my past that has benefited me?
Once you answer those questions, turn those answers into action plans.
- I will do something today that will matter in ten years.
- I will invest in relationships today that will still matter in ten years.
- I will embrace today’s painful circumstances and trust God to bring good from them.
All of us have things we must do today. Do them. But also make sure you do what really matters – based on a long-term perspective and trust in God’s promises.