There are many leaders who are stuck in the past. While there are dangers in leading with only a view of the present or with only a view of the future, leading with your mind only rooted in the past is destructive. Here are five dangers with only looking at the past as you lead:
1. The past is your idol.
Leaders who hold tightly to the past are often holding tightly to the source of their identity. If past successes, past accolades, or past contributions are the source of your identity, the past is your idol. It is one thing to learn from the past, to appreciate the past, and to be grateful for the past but quite another to idolize and worship the past.
2. Your identity is misplaced.
If you only look back to “those days” with fondness and fail to appreciate the opportunities of today, you are looking to the past for your identity instead of to Him. It is saddening and heartbreaking to see leaders fight for the past because, in essence, they are fighting for their identity.
3. The organization’s identity is misplaced.
If the past is idolized, the mission is marginalized. If you look exclusively at the past, you lead people to believe the identity of the ministry or the organization is the past. If you rally people around the ministry’s past, you fail to rally them around the ministry’s purpose.
4. Opportunities are missed.
If you only lead with a view of the past, you are missing opportunities to serve people today. For example, if the community surrounding your church has changed and you are still leading with the past as your only view, then there are people today who need Christ that you are ignoring.
5. New leaders are dismissed.
If you only lead with a view of the past, new leaders are unable to be developed and deployed. If you only lead with a view of the past, you fail to see potential new leaders in your midst. If a new leader does emerge, the new leader’s ideas are likely dismissed because they don’t fit the mold of the past.
Leaders are foolish if they do not learn from the past and appreciate the past. Leaders are foolish if they do not root the organization’s future in the timeless values of the past. But in the same regard, to live only in the past, to only view the past, is a grave leadership mistake.