What is your preferred future?
Ever thought about that?
But, it's another thing to think about your preferred future.
When I think about my own preferred future, I think about a verse I memorized over 30 years ago when I was meeting weekly with a Campus Crusade friend. I think about what Paul wrote in his letter to the church at Colossae.
"So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ." Colossians 1:28 NLT
Perfect in their relationship to Christ
And when I think about that verse, another three verses pop immediately into my mind. I think about what Paul wrote to his friends at the church in Philippi:
"I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. 13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us." Philippians 3:12-14 NLT
And if I'm honest, those three verses give me mixed feelings!
On the one hand, even Paul had not yet arrived!
And on the other hand, Paul was pressing on to reach the end of the race! Not throwing in the towel. But instead, keeping his eyes on the prize as he pursued his preferred future.
So...what is your preferred future?
Do you know?
The Preferred Future
What is the preferred future?
I have written many times about the preferred future (for small group ministries or otherwise). The first time I remember hearing the term was at a Fuller Church Growth workshop in 1992. In a session on vision I heard that Tom Peters described vision as a "picture of a preferred future."
I believe the preferred future is what you’ve clarified as the ultimate win; what you’re trying to produce. It’s what you will one day call success. It is worth sacrificing for, investing in, and it actually ought to keep you up at night. Or at least wake you up in the middle of the night.
Your preferred future
But when it comes to the spiritual life, what is your preferred future?
I like to think arriving at our preferred is a life-long pursuit. It is a pursuit that will occupy each of us for the rest of our lives. And anything less would be settling for something that will not hear well done.
Like Paul, we will each need to admit that we have not arrived, but we are on the way and will keep moving in the direction God has given us.
We will begin to know what it will look like to arrive. And from that we will admit that we are not there yet.
Think again about what Paul wrote to the church at Colossae. "We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ."
What might that look like?
Would we be always exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit?
Would we always set aside what was ours and instead put the needs of others ahead of our own?
Would we demonstrate the kind of love Jesus had for His disciples, laying down His life for His friends?
Perhaps recognizing all of the above caused Paul to realize he was closer to the beginning than the end.
Maybe that recognition will work the same way for us?
And maybe like Thomas Merton we will say, "We do not want to be beginners. But let us be convinced of the fact that we will never be anything else but beginners, all our life!"
See also, Arriving at Your Preferred Future
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