The History of the Future

back to the futureIf you saw a university class with the title, “The History of the Future,” what would you think it would be about?  How could someone teach the history of the future?  How can history help us move into the future?

Think about yourself for a minute.  When you were a child, what did you dream of becoming?  By your senior year in high school, how had your plans changed?  Looking at your life now, how many of your plans actually occurred just as you thought they would?  What changed?  Why did it change?

Now think about an example from scripture.  As boy, the Peter probably dreamed of following in the family business even though fishing was a hard life and required both determination and leadership.  Later, as a young man, Peter’s plans changed.  He left his fishing business and followed Jesus, but his reasons had not yet found clarity.  At first, his motives were political and his is agenda eclipsed Jesus’ agenda.  There were arguments (Mark 8:32).  Later still, after Jesus’ death and resurrection, Peter’s plans changed again as he became an early spokesman for the Christian movement (Acts 2:14).

Looking back over his entire life, what changed and what remained the same in Peter’s life?  What did his history reveal about his future?

Sometimes this is called “Faith in Process” and the steps are often as difficult as they are predictable as a person moves from one level of commitment to another.  What steps did Peter go through as he changed from the proud Peter who argued with Jesus to the humble Peter who represented Jesus?

Step 1 – Pride – he didn’t listen or learn.
Step 2 – Failure – surprised @ failure.
Step 3 – Bewilderment – wandering in shock.
Step 4 – Listening – facing his own neediness.
Step 5 – Learning – with an open heart.
Step 6 – Change – God brings transformation.

In his classic, The Sacred Journey, Frederick Buechner writes:

“… to grit your teeth and clench your fists in order to survive the world at its harshest and worst – is, by that very act, to be unable to let something be done for you and in you that is more wonderful still … the one thing a clenched fist cannot do is accept … a helping hand.” (pg 46).

Peter eventually unclenched his fists, and while God completely changed Peter’s heart, He left his personality intact.  In fact, God dramatically brought Peter’s history in the future as He used Peter’s determination, drive, and leadership to launch the Christian movement.

And so, let’s go back to where we started – the history of the future.  What have you tried?  Where have you failed?  How have you learned?  What have you changed?

It’s the history of your future.

His Name Was “Mentor”

In his book, You Can Make A Difference, Dr. Gary Collins tells of a team of analysts from Yale University who spent years researching and analyzing the very difficult move from youth, through middle-age, into old age. One major idea emerged that made the movement successful — mentoring.

imagesA mentor is someone who guides, challenges, corrects and serves as a model for someone younger.  Stories of mentoring go back to Homer’s ancient epic tale Odysseus, who as a father, simply asked his good friend Mentor to counsel his young son while he was away.

The criterion hasn’t changed much since.  Mentors guide, encourage and support.  They challenge their protégés to go beyond their comfort zone and explore their potential.  Probably most important, mentors listen, observe and reproduce themselves.

Timothy had his Paul
Paul had his Barnabas
Joshua had his Moses
The Twelve had their Jesus
Elisha had his Elijah
Daughters have their mothers
Sons have their fathers
Every person has the image of God

images-1The design of mentoring is a strategy straight from the heart of God.  His intent is to reproduce His own character in the human race, and He does it through one person to another.

Last year I lost a great mentor and a personal friend.  Prentice Meador has returned to the Mentor of the universe.  But his guiding influence lives on in the ministries, marriages, families, and lives of those in his multiplying ministry chain.  I am grateful to be in that chain, but it will only remain a chain if I continue to add links.

Do you want to honor the mentors in your life?  Do what they did.