I do not like board games. I always seem to lose, get outwitted by quicker thinking people, or pushed into a corner, and though the corner may be made only of a cardboard box the experience is still humiliating. I never seem to play to win; I’m just playing to not lose too quickly.
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. (1 Corinthians 9: 24)
Are you growing, or just barely surviving? Are you running the race to win, or are you just participating? Are you doing what you doing for God because you believe in it, or because there is currently nothing else for you to do?
Progress-focused people see their goals as creating a path to a desirable future. They are eager and they are in the race to win. These people are not afraid of risk and change; they learn on the job, have courageous dreams and do not lack creativity. For the progress-focused, the worst thing is a chance not taken, a goal not reached or a failure to advance. They use their time wisely and are aware of urgent needs out there.
Preservation-focused people see their goals as responsibilities, and they concentrate on staying safe. They often go over in their head the things that may go wrong. They are vigilant and play to not lose. They hang on to what they have, to maintain the status quo. They invest all their energy and time in preserving what they have already accomplished, and are very protective over that.
In your life, your work and your ministry are you a progress-focused person or a preservation-focused person?
Hudson Taylor was a progress-focused person; he ran in the race to win a prize, not to just participate. His vision got bigger and bigger. He asked for more and more workers; first just a handful, then a hundred and then almost a thousand. He did not settle for one province – the whole of China was on his heart.
Amy Carmichael was also a person focused on progress for the sake of the Kingdom of God. She started as an itinerant evangelist in southern India, but then her work expanded to saving girls from temple prostitution. First just one, then a few more, and then hundreds. Then there was a building of a hospital and the work with the boys.
Both Hudson Taylor and Amy Carmichael were progress-focused. However the organizations they have started are still going strong today so I guess there was an aspect of preservation in their work too. But preservation that protects and releases at the same time. Preservation that invests in the continuous health of the work, and not in mummifying it and sheltering it too much.
I guess the secret lies in finding the way to accommodating both progress and preservation; you preserve and progress, preserve and progress. You build and maintain a building, then you build an extension and you continue to maintain the foundation, and so on.
We need focus in our vision, that is true, but part of me also thinks as I look at these amazing people of God (and many more), that our vision should be expandable… May we never be comfortable with the status quo, may we never be afraid of stepping out in faith. May we be the people of progress and preservation!
Joanna has a passion for mentoring female leaders to become mentors for a new generation. She is a founding director of One Rock, a board member of Renovare UK, and an associate lecturer at Oasis College. In her spare time she loves taking photographs of nature, and playing with her cat Chester.