II Timothy 4:7 “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.”
Strategy is often defined as creating coherence between ends, ways, and means. The eccentric strategist Dr. Everett Dolman defines it in a more creative way — “a plan for continuing advantage.” As he explains the nuance involved in such a definition he points out that the ends in one phase of a strategy are simply the initial conditions of the next phase of a strategy. Such a perspective is a reminder that strategy is a long continuum, and excessive focus on intermediate ends may hinder advantage in the long term; it is the long term that really matters.
As I hand over command of my current organization tomorrow morning, I am mindful that Dr. Dolman’s unique definition of strategy has important applicability to selfless Christian leadership. The organizational environment at end of my tenure as commander is simply the initial condition of the next commander’s tenure. As a leader, I would be a failure if an excessive focus on short-term accomplishments hindered the long-term success of that organization beyond my tenure. A truly successful leader will have established conditions within an organization that fosters a continuing advantage after that individual moves on, truly only possible if the equipping, encouraging, correcting, compelling and challenging of people within the organization is the leader’s prevailing focus. Such a leadership style will cause an organization to succeed in the short term, but more importantly will cause it to thrive in the long term as it continues on its course.
This definition of strategy can also help inform Christians as we live our lives and contribute to our ministries. Our perspective should be on the eternal, and our contributions are to span the entirety of our remaining lives. An excessive focus on anything short of finishing our individual course while keeping the faith may actually hinder us in fulfilling God’s plan. We are to invest our lives in such a way that we provide the gospel a continuing advantage in this land.
PLEASE PRAY THAT AMERICAN CHRISTIANS WOULD KEEP OUR GAZE ON THE LONG TERM PERSPECTIVE OF OUR LIVES. Even as we pass on from this life, our testimonies form the initial conditions for the next generation of Christians. May we give them the proper springboard to foster a continuing advantage for Christ.