Businesses once were disparaged if they didn’t have 5, 10, and 25 year strategic plans. Churches, too, were expected to map out the course of their future. The Cathedral of St. John the Divine once had a committee working on the year 3,000. Now, when was the last time a single day went the way you planned?
Life moves too fast and changes too much for long-range plans to be effective. The Internet and cyberspace have taught us that the world is not one dimensional and life is not linear.
Many of us grew up in churches that gave us complete, detailed maps to govern every turn of our lives. Those maps told us what to believe, what to think, and how to act. Maps leave little room for ambiguity.
A church group went hiking in the mountains and soon became hopelessly lost. After a time of discussion, the preacher, in frustration, said, “Give me that map.” He had such confidence no one worried even when he turned it over realizing, at last, he had it upside down. Finally, he announced with absolute certainty, “According to this map we are standing on top of that mountain right over there.”
The churches we grew up in often were wrong, but seldom uncertain. If the map differed from reality, then reality must be wrong. The truth is few of us really followed those maps they gave us, but somehow we got comfort from having them.
At some point, you and I discovered that those maps really don’t work for our lives. In fact, we were left completely off their maps. Still, most of us couldn’t discard them. The spiritual maps with which you and I grew up were designed for horse-drawn carriages in rural America. However, you and I are strapped to the back of a starship rocketing through cyberspace. Today, maps are out. Traveling successfully in our modern world requires that we learn to navigate by the stars.
When landmarks, and even the landscape, are always changing, successful navigation requires fixed points. That’s why seafaring people always have navigated by the stars.
We try to teach people that the navigating stars are:
- God’s Vision for your life. Who does God long for you to become?
- Your life’s Mission. What are you supposed to accomplish before you are done?
- Your Core Values. What is so important that it makes you who you are?
The trouble with navigating by those stars is that you have to know them. Do you?
by Michael Piazza
Center for Progressive Renewal