“And the most important thing is…”
I had the interesting task this week of summing up the history of an organisation which has been functioning for the last 15 years. Like most organisations it has had its up’s and downs. It has had times of great growth and times of challenge. It has been well resourced and it has been strapped for cash and… unfortunately… it has had times where wrong decisions have been made and where people have looked after their own interests rather than the interests of others.
One of the questions I was asked to answer was… “What is the most important lesson we can learn from the past?” The underlying question being “What mistake shouldn’t we make again?”
I think that mistakes are a part of life and we have the opportunity to learn from them. They are only really a problem when they become a pattern of behaviour or when the education they offer is ignored.
If you were to make a list of the most important things you have learned, what would it contain? If you had an opportunity just to remember one thing, what would it be?
Some possible items for your list:
Flared jeans were, and will always be, a mistake; ‘do it yourself’ spray tanning kits will make you look like an oompa loompa; when jump starting a car remember Red positive – Black negative; brown sugar and cocoa are not the same; the phrase “I know what I am doing!” does not always mean that they ‘know’ what they are doing; never have a haircut from a hairdresser with a Mohawk; never invest your money in a ‘sure thing’ or an ‘it couldn’t possibly go wrong’ scheme.
Whilst this list is somewhat flippant, the task I was asked to do wasn’t. Looking forward, we want to do well and to be successful and a significant opportunity comes from learning from the mistakes of the past.
Dwelling on the past is not the answer but learning from it is. The Bible encourages us to ‘pass on’ what we have learned from elder to younger, from generation to generation. But this presents two challenges – one is to recognise what we and others have learned – the second is to not make the same mistakes again.
For me I have learned that it is a mistake to place myself at the centre of my life – Christ has a better plan and does a much better job.
So what is the most important thing for you?